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October 13, 2012Tonight, Tennessee faces their second consecutive road test as they travel to Starkville, Miss. to take on undefeated Mississippi State. The Vols enter the game facing some adversity as their head coach, Derek Dooley, will coach from the coaches box instead of the sideline. What's key for the Vols to get an SEC road win and their first win over a ranked opponent in the Dooley era? Find out in our Saturday Cheat Sheet.
1. Remain calm - Obviously the news of Derek Dooley not being on the sidelines for tonight's game is significant. It's significant from the standpoint of control and calmness. Now, Dooley isn't the most calm guy on the sidelines as the barks at refs and works the field. But the players know who's in charge and Dooley has a calmness with his team. Without Dooley on the sidelines it's important that there's no panic and that it's not an offensive team and a defensive team. It's a team of both working together as one unit.
2. Start fast - The reality is that we don't know how good Mississippi State is. Their 5-0 record hasn't been posted against the stiffest competition. But State believes they are really good and so do their fans. Tennessee is walking into a hostile environment Saturday night and without the familiar face of Dooley it's even more imperative that the Vols get off to a good start Saturday night.
3. Make good decisions at critical times - Against Florida, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney didn't make good decisions as he abandoned the run. In the Georgia game, quarterback Tyler Bray didn't throw the ball away twice in the fourth quarter and both resulted in a turnover. Saturday night when the game gets tight Bray and all the Vols must make good decisions in game changing moments.
4. Tackle - Tennessee's ugly, ugly defensive numbers when it comes to big plays has been well documented and it will be till the defense shows they have things figured out. Tennessee must stop giving teams easy scores. If they allow Mississippi State that kind running lane and poor tackling then the Vols will be in serious trouble in Starkville.