Man, it sure is a good thing the Locks & Keys were out of town last weekend. Because while the Vols may have (finally) won, we sure didn’t when it came to predicting games. Better to keep that debauchery out of the public eye.
All we need to know is it was bad. Real bad.
Meanwhile, Tennessee is on a one-game winning streak! Let’s hope that doesn’t end this weekend, but it likely will against a Missouri team that has found its stride and annihilated Florida 45-16 last weekend. It isn’t like the Tigers are that good, but I’m not sure if you’ve been watching or not, but the Vols aren’t, either.
There’s no reason to visit the pre-Kentucky L&K from two weeks ago. I mean, the Vols lost, so you know they didn’t do very well with the keys. Things aren’t pretty on Rocky Top, so the Vols will travel all the way to Columbia, Missouri, this weekend and hope their misfortunate doesn’t follow them there.
Wake me up when there’s a new coach, amirite? Let’s take a look at the keys to beating Mizzou.
Rekindle Rush Magic
The strength and conditioning woes helped ruin Jones’ career, and in no place have those shortcomings been more evident than on the offensive line.
With Brett Kendrick and Drew Richmond out again this week, it’s going to be slim pickings on the line again for the Vols. The good news for UT is Mizzou hasn’t been good against the run, allowing 181 yards on the ground per game. The Tigers also are giving up 33.8 points per game, though the Vols won’t approach that number.
If Will McBride is the quarterback, UT is going to have to run the ball successfully to win. That means a healthy dosage of John Kelly and Ty Chandler, both of which are capable of taking over games with just a little bit of blocking up front. It’s vital Tennessee has the run-first, run-often game plan and utilizes it to perfection if it’s going to win.
In building off the theme above, Tennessee must run the ball, control the clock, convert third downs and stay on the field.
The less Lock has the ball, the better for the Vols. UT’s secondary has been stout against the pass this year, leading the SEC allowing just 150 yards per game. But that number is deceptive. After all, why would any team ever pass the ball on Tennessee when you can straight-up run down its throat?
Mizzou will pass the ball, and it will have success doing so. That’s why the Vols need to play a 60-minute game of keep-away. Sustain drives, get first downs, score touchdowns. That’s the only way to win.
After Butch Jones called Jarrett Guarantano “probable” earlier this week, he later said the redshirt freshman is a game-time decision. That means it could be true freshman McBride’s game.
That’s scary news, yeah. Though McBride entered the Southern Miss game and didn’t bat an eye, he wasn’t exactly effective. Now, he could be leading a putrid offense in a game where the Vols absolutely must score points to hang with the high-flying passing attack of the Tigers. Can McBride throw the ball downfield? If he can, do the Vols have anybody who can catch it?
Mizzou has the league’s 13th-rated pass defense. They’re awful. UT must find a way to display some sort of vertical game.
Opportunity is now here
Say what you want about Bob Shoop’s tenure at Tennessee, but the defense has done its part in the past two games. It looks like things are finally beginning to click on that side. Not only are the Vols playing well, they’re getting the football back for their offense, too.
Though they lost 29-26 to Kentucky, they forced four Wildcats turnovers (which makes it even more inexplicable that they found a way to lose). Against Southern Miss, UT got two more turnovers, turning both into touchdowns. In those two games, the Vols didn’t have a single turnover.
Tennessee must turn Mizzou over to win this game. The Tigers have youth running the ball and will try to advance the ball downfield through the air. That’s where UT will have to bait Lock and get some big plays. If they do, they can win.
Remember who you freaking are
Saw a crazy tweet today that underlines just how deep-rooted Tennessee’s player development issues are. In the past four recruiting classes, UT has seven 5-star players and Mizzou has zero. The Vols have 48 4-stars, and the Tigers have 11. Mizzou has 20 2-star players, and the Vols have just 3.
Yet Mizzou is favored by 11 points.
Forget that Jones is the coach; this UT team is more talented than Mizzou. And Vanderbilt later this year. The Vols were more talented than Kentucky, but that didn’t matter. It needs to start mattering.
Play like you’re Tenne-freaking-ssee.
I guess we can’t really call them “locks” anymore after the past two weeks. Even though you can’t see last week’s results, trust me, they were awful. I need to get off the schneid. They were just as bad two weeks ago, when we did log them. I went 2-6 to spiral my record to 32-33-1 on the season.
I desperately need a good week again. Right now, we’re down (fictitious) money. Let’s revisit the carnage.
First of all, I thought two terrible offenses in Tennessee and Kentucky wouldn’t approach 46, but UK wound up winning 29-26 as the Vols somehow found a way to cross the goal line multiple times when they hadn’t for 14 quarters. Who knew?
I wish we could just forget about two of the games I picked, but, alas, we couldn’t I actually picked Louisville to win by a lot over Wake Forest though it was just 2.5 point favorites. The Cardinals were embarrassed. So was Arizona State, who lost 48-17 against USC. I guess after the wins over Arizona and Arizona State the past two weeks, the Trojans finally have woken up. How in the world did Appalachian State not beat UMass by more than three??? The Minutemen actually won 30-27. Kansas didn’t beat Kansas State, but the Jayhawks only lost 30-20, easily covering a 24.5-point spread. And I picked Texas A&M over Mississippi State at home. The Aggies didn’t.
The wins are a lot easier to cover because there were only two of them. Arizona was a three-point underdog to Washington State, but the Cougars had no answer for Khalil Tate in a 58-37 Wildcats win. Also, the fighting Lane Kiffins were 6.5-point favorites over Western Kentucky and won 42-28.
Let’s try to win some pride back this week.
- UConn +40 against Central Florida: I know that Connecticut isn’t a very good football team. But the Huskies are a FORTY-point underdog against UCF. Maybe that’s going to happen, and yes, I know UConn’s defense is bad. But Rhett Lashlee’s offense averages 25 points a game. I don’t see this being 65-25. It’ll be ugly, but not 40 points ugly.
- Florida-South Carolina under 45.5: Florida can’t score a lick. Last week, the Gators managed just 16 points against an awful Missouri defense. Now, they play against a South Carolina team that is quietly pretty good. This game will wind up 27-14 or something like that.
- Michigan State +16.5 over Ohio State: Michigan State gets zero respect. A week after beating Penn State, the Spartans must play Ohio State. The Buckeyes will win and represent the division in the Big Ten Championship Game, but it’ll be close.
- Texas Tech-Baylor over 72.5: This has 85 points written all over it. Just bet the over, sit back and enjoy all the scoring.
- Florida Atlantic -6.5 over Louisiana Tech: Lane Kiffin is a volatile personality, and he shoved it to bettors last week by having his punter run out of the back of the end zone for a safety that cost the Owls the cover. But FAU also scores points, and La Tech hasn’t been good at it this year. The Owls will win and cover.
- Notre Dame -3 over Miami: I don’t know why I don’t believe in the Hurricanes. I know by now I should. But I believe Notre Dame wins this game in South Bend and keeps churning forward.
- Tennessee-Missouri under 61.5: Well, the last time I picked an under, UT and UK reached it easily. But there’s no way the Vols are contributing to getting that combined score to 62. No way.
- West Virginia +1.5 over Kansas State: Early this season, I rode West Virginia. I know this is a road game in Manhattan where wacky things happen, but I’m rolling with Will Grier again.