Tomorrow night from Atlanta, the Tennessee Volunteers will kick off their 2017 season against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. It’s a unique challenge for Tennessee as they prepare to face Tech’s flexbone, triple-option offense.
With that in mind, here are my three keys to victory for the Vols.
Win the line of scrimmage
This game will be won in the trenches, without a doubt. Both teams will want to run the football, just in very different ways. In Tennessee’s 2016 opener against Appalachian State, the Vols got beaten up at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. You don’t typically win football games if you can’t move teams off the ball. A new defensive front and an experienced offensive line are easily the two most important positional groups for Tennessee on Monday night. They must control the game.
Linebackers must play in control
With a triple option attack like Georgia Tech’s, misdirection is the name of the game. You’ll see lots of motion with plenty of different avenues on these read options. Over aggression can lead to big plays, which could turn a slug-fest like this on a dime.
Making this situation tougher for Tennessee, they’re already down two listed starters in Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Austin Smith, each of whom were lost in the past week. That’s a summer’s worth of preparation down the drain for those two. Tennessee must turn to Colton Jumper, Dillon Bates and Daniel Bituli now.
In the days leading up to this game, Butch Jones has mentioned how Georgia Tech’s ball control offense stresses teams. You’re likely going to get less plays offensively than usual. With a new quarterback and potentially a little different look offensively, we’re not really sure what to expect from the Vols on this side of the ball.
One thing that doomed the 2016 team was turnovers. Tennessee won’t be able afford too many mistakes on Monday night. I’d expect a heavy dosage of John Kelly and quick, low-risk passes from Quinten Dormady (assuming he gets the start).
What do you think is the most important key for the Vols?