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Three Things To Watch For During The Vols-Cougars Game

Let’s try this again.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 Georgia State at Tennessee
Can Jarrett Guarantano rebound this week?
Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There isn’t a single Vols fan who thought this team would be in the position it is currently in at this point in time last week.

Tennessee came out of the gate completely unprepared to face the Georgia State Panthers, a Sun Belt opponent that won two games in 2018.

Now, they face an undoubtedly better opponent in the BYU Cougars.

Tennessee better make some major changes this week if it wants to save its season. Yep, it’s already that bad.

So what should we watch for this week? Let’s find out.

1. Reflection

I’m not overstating anything when I say that the loss to the Panthers is the worst loss in program history.

There’s really only one question to ask after last week: Where do the Vols go from here?

We are about to see what this team — and coaching staff — are made of and it starts this week against BYU. Will the Vols come out and show BYU that last week was an aberration? Or will BYU come out and have the same success that Georgia State had? This team looked like it didn’t give two iotas about last week’s game. There was no sense of urgency and almost no desire to make the necessary changes to correct course and put the Panthers away.

Jordan Murphy’s Twitter episode over the weekend lends credence to the thought this staff doesn’t have a stronghold in the locker room, either. The lack of leaderships has rendered the mentality of this team as weak. A weak mindset is an automatic death sentence in the SEC.

So will the Vols take a long, hard look in the mirror over the week? They certainly should, but there’s no guarantee anything will change on the field.

I can promise you, BYU will be ready to make a statement on Saturday. Hopefully, the Vols will, too.

2. Zach Wilson = Dan Ellington?

BYU’s quarterback can do most of the things that Ellington did against the Vols, so obviously, this isn’t a good situation to be in right now.

Pruitt even stated on Tuesday that Wilson reminds him of Johnny Manziel.

“On their offensive side, to me it really starts with the quarterback, a guy that kind of reminds me of Johnny Manziel,” Pruitt said. “He can run around and extend plans, make all the throws. Turned the ball over a couple of times last week, unfortunately. He is a guy that we have to find a way to get on the ground.”

Obviously, Wilson is no Manziel, but it doesn’t take a Manziel clone to give this defense fits. If Ellington was able to find success and stretch the defense, then why wouldn’t Wilson be able to do the same?

Keeping Wilson in the pocket will be key if the Vols want to win on Saturday and begin the long march back to respectability. If Tennessee can’t contain Wilson, then there is little chance the Vols will move to .500 on the year.

3. Balance On Offense

Jeremy Pruitt wants to run the ball. Jim Chaney knows how to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. The Vols have a litany of talented skill position players on offense.

Therefore, this should be a pretty efficient and/or balanced offense, correct?

That certainly wasn’t the case on Saturday. Tennessee threw the ball 40 times and ran the ball just 31 times. 10 of those attempts came from quarterback Jarrett Guarantano and one attempt was a sweep to wide receiver Ramel Keyton.

Eric Gray and Ty Chandler combined for 81 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 14 total touches. Chandler didn’t touch the ball in the second half. That can’t happen. They have to get the ball more. It’s that simple.

I don’t know how this can be achieved with this offensive line, but this is highest-paid coaching staff in the country. It’s about time they showed why.