As noted here and nearly everywhere else on the Vols blogosphere, the early rush to judgments after Week 1 are these: (1) Tennessee's run game is awesome and its pass defense is in real trouble, and (2) Oklahoma's passing game did to Akron's defense what Bowling Green did to Tennessee's. With those two things in mind, let's take a stab at what the Vols should do to win this game against the Sooners on Saturday.
Run, Run, Run, Run. The Vols trio of Jalen Hurd, Alvin Kamara (I will always yell, "ALVIN!" when I hear his name), and Josh Dobbs put up one yard shy of 400 on the ground against Bowling Green. That's in the Not Shabby jar on the shelf even if it is in the Bowling Green section of your neighborhood grocer. So how did Oklahoma do against the run versus Akron? Well, they held the Zips to 138 yards rushing, which is okay, I guess, but not exactly what you might expect. At the least, it's not as impressive as running for 400. So Tennessee's strength at this time looks like it has six legs, a ton of power, and serious speed and smarts to boot. So let's run, fellas, and see if they can stop you.
Sell out to stop the . . . deep pass? Not only is Tennessee's defense nursing a bruised ego this week, Oklahoma was one of three teams that looked better passing the ball than Bowling Green last week. This is where you gulp and grimace. The Sooners hung 439 passing yards on Akron, six more than the Falcons put on the Vols. Does anyone know if there's a John Chavis playbook gathering dust in a corner of the locker room or something, cuz we could use a good old fashioned giant cushion between our defenders and our opponent's receivers this week. We should not be shocked into panic mode just yet if Oklahoma passes for 350 yards this Saturday, but to win, the team is going to need to minimize the damage as much as possible, and I think that means selling out to prevent long pass plays at the expense of encouraging a lot of shorter ones we can at least keep in front of us. Cautionary note: It's not like the Sooners don't have a running back, so the Vols can't just ignore the run game, either.
I'd feel a whole lot better about this game if we hadn't just given up nearly half a thousand passing yards to Bowling Green. As it is, I think it's possible to weather the coming repeat storm by having the Vols' rushing offense continue to hit on all cylinders. Look for it to be close, though, and hope that our offense is the unit on the field if the game is still in doubt as the clock is winding down.
I'm hoping for 280 or more on the ground and 180 through the air for the Vols, 110 on the ground and something less than 350 through the air for the Sooners, and a score of 38-35, Tennessee.