Below is a look at Tennessee’s national stat rankings side-by-side with the corollary rankings for Mississippi State. If the numbers hold, Maurer shouldn’t be too pressed for time, the Vols defense will have its hands full against the Bulldogs’ run game but shouldn’t have to worry too much about the passing game, and Tennessee could have some opportunities in the game’s third phase.
Vols on offense
If there’s anything happy for the Vols here, it’s that Mississippi State doesn’t appear to be a threat behind our own line of scrimmage, so Maurer should have time to throw and the running backs should have some opportunity to get headed in the right direction before meeting up with the defense.
The Bulldogs are good on both third and fourth downs, though, and they’re stingy in the red zone, and none of these are things Tennessee’s well equipped to do anything about.
Other than that, Mississippi State appears to have advantages in most of the defensive categories, but they are only slight.
Vols on defense
The Bulldogs do not appear to be much of a threat on offense, and they are particularly bad in the passing game. Their numbers make them look like a one-dimensional running team, so the winning strategy would seem to be selling out to stop the run.
The bad news is that Tennessee’s special teams regressed last week against Georgia. The good news is that they have a long way to fall to be as bad as Mississippi State, whose numbers suggest that they’ve been struggling on special teams for most of the 2019 season. There are some serious opportunities for the Vols on kickoff and punt returns.
Turnovers and penalties
Both teams look about equal in the penalty department, but the Bulldogs look much better at protecting the ball and taking it from their opponents.