KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) — The Jim Chaney led Tennessee offense continues to show improvement
totaling 485 yards in a 41-21 win over South Carolina. This despite using
three different quarterbacks against the Gamecocks. Coach Pruitt said this
week that he feels Chaney has done a good job all season, it's just that the Vols executed at a higher level and came up with several chunk plays.
Among the keys to victory last week I said the Vols needed to continue their physical play and limit turnovers. Well, they did and the result was a resounding victory, the team's third of the season and second in Conference play. Tennessee has four games remaining and must win three of them in order to become Bowl eligible.
Up first, the Blazers of Alabama-Birmingham. Here are my keys to a Tennessee win on Homecoming at Neyland Stadium:
1. RED ZONE: Tennessee must continue to work on offensive production inside their opponents 20 yard line. The Vols have done a good job overall on converting third downs, but have had their issues closer to the goal line. Something to watch for, UAB has the 6th ranked third down defense in the country giving up only 90 yards rushing per game.
2. PENALTIES: The Vols must continue to work on limiting penalties. Tennessee ranks 126th in the nation in fewest penalties allowed give up 73 yards a contest. I don't have to tell you that isn't very good.
3. QUARTERBACKS: The health of UT's quarterback's are critical if Tennessee is to make a solid stretch run and eventual Bowl game. Coach Pruitt says all three are available for Saturday's game with the Blazers and that includes Brian Maurer coming off concussion protocol and Jerrett Guarantano suffering a broken non-throwing hand against
4. TURNOVERS: The Vols did a better job in this department against the Gamecocks. Tennessee must continue to work against throwing interceptions. Coming up with picks has been a problem for the visiting Blazers who rank 125th in the nation with just one this season.
5. TRENCH PLAY: With Tennessee's offense clicking a bit more, it's no coincidence the offensive line is playing better. It all starts up the middle with senior center Brandon Kennedy, who was named SEC offensive lineman of the week. Trey Smith also continues to gain steam and the Vols will need those guys to step up this week facing a UAB defense which has 26 sacks on the season at 60 tackles for loss.
Speaking of trench warfare, the Vols will continue to look for ways to generate more pass rush, especially up the middle,a point of emphasis
by coach Pruitt earlier this week. It's the Vols and Blazers Saturday night at 7pm with the game to be broadcast by ESPNU.