KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Vols remain in search of their first SEC win of the season. They're hoping it comes Saturday when they welcome into Neyland Stadium
the 3-2 Miss. State Bulldogs. In looking at Tennessee's remaining schedule, this is one of those match-ups most believe is a winnable game for the Big Orange. Despite the loss to Georgia, the Vols left Campus last Saturday night with some hope coming off an inspired early effort against the nations third ranked team. Here are my keys to what the Vols will need to do to build off that effort heading into the showdown with Joe Moorehead's Bulldogs:
1. A FULL 60: The Vols must take the energy they displayed in the opening quarter against Georgia and play a full 60 minutes of football against Miss. State. Finishing strong has been a problem for a Tennessee team that's been outscored 71-26 in the second half of games this season.
2. STOP THE RUN: Miss. State comes into Knoxville sporting the 4th best ground attack in the league as well as the SEC's leading rusher in Kylin Hill. The junior has rushed for 596 yards, averaging 120 yards per game. He's also got five touchdowns on the season and can catch the ball out of the backfield. The Vols are giving up over 160 yards rushing on average per game.
3. BRIAN MAURER: Tennessee's true freshman will be making only his second ever start as a college quarterback. Maurer looked sharp early against Georgia, displaying a lot of poise and a strong arm. His decision making was also good early on, but the youngster also struggled at times and like his team will need to show improvement against another quality SEC opponent.
4. KICKING GAME: The Vols, usually strong in this category struggled at times on special teams against Georgia. A missed Brent Cimaglia FG, which would have pulled the Vols to within three points late in the half, was costly. Punter Joe Doyle also failed to turn the field at times against the Bulldogs. Tennessee needs to sure up this area against Miss. State.
5. TURNOVERS: If it sounds like we've been talking about this all season, well it's because we have. Turnover margin continues to hurt this 2019 edition of Tennessee football with the Vols still on the short end of the giveaway / takeaway category. A strong showing on this front could really help propel the Volunteers to their second win and first in conference play this season.
It's Tennessee and Miss. State, Saturday at Noon inside Neyland Stadium. The SEC Network will have the broadcast. The Vol Walk will take place at 9:45 am.