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September 30, 2011After watching college football last weekend, Tennessee returns to the field and starts a very challenging month of October. But before the Vols can focus on teams like Georgia and LSU, they must first handle things with Buffalo. What's the key to Tennessee moving to 3-1 on the season and setting the stage for a tough conference run? Here are four in what we call the Cheat Sheet.
RUN TO DAYLIGHT
Buffalo enters giving up 166 yards rushing a game. Tennessee enters struggling having rushed for just 245 yards in 3 games. Of course the Vols are coming off a negative rushing yards performance at Florida. This week even if the Vols put up big yards the run game will still be a question mark heading back into SEC play. But one thing that can improve regardless of the competition is the vision of the running backs. Tennessee's tailbacks haven't made many people miss this season and often times they haven't found the hole or the crease. If this running game is going to improve lots of things must get better including the ball carriers running to daylight.
Buffalo has put up good yards this season and the MAC conference has been pretty impressive in the first part of the season. Toledo nearly upset Ohio State, Western Michigan played Illinois to the final play, Ball State beat Indiana, and Temple blew out Maryland. Buffalo is averaging 354 yards of offense and had over 400 yards against Pittsburgh. The point is that the Bulls have athletes and Tennessee has struggled at times to tackle. It's a must that Tennessee tackles better in open space than they have to this point.
MAKING THE BULLS EARN IT
Tennessee's defense has played well this year in short yardage situations. They have done a solid job of forcing field goals instead of giving up touchdowns. But what they haven't done a good job of is preventing catastrophic plays. In three games, Tennessee has given up a touchdown play of over 50 yards each game. Last year for the season, they gave up just 5. It's a must for Tennessee's defense to make Buffalo drive the length of the field and not give up cheap scores.
After two weeks of discussing life on the field without Justin Hunter, how it affects the offense and all the other wringing of the hands it has caused, Tennessee needs to get over it and go play. The Vols are better than Buffalo in all phases. Offensively, Tennessee's to learn from the mistakes and issues from two weeks ago, but not dwell on them. The Vols just need to go play ball. They are at their best when they have a backyard ball mindset and they need to play that way on Saturday afternoon. Defensively, they need to settle in quicker having given up touchdowns on the opening drive the last two weeks and in the kicking game just be sound.