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November 9, 2012Saturday the Vols return to SEC action as head coach Derek Dooley and his team look for their first SEC win of the season against a Missouri team that looks to be settling in to SEC play. What's key for the Vols to land just their second conference win in two years? Find out in our weekly Cheat Sheet.
1. Need a band-aid, not a tourniquet - The numbers are beyond bad. Nearly 2100 yards and 19 touchdowns on 60 plays by offenses against the Vol defense. That's a touchdown one in every three times a team gains 20 yards or more on a play. It can't continue if the Vols have any hopes of winning today or the rest of the season. On Monday, Dooley said he wished his defense would bleed a little bit and not get gashed they way they have been. Tennessee's trying to stop the hemorrhaging this week by changing up things on defense. One of those appears to be less man coverage and more zone with at least safety deep. However they elected to play it, they must keep the ball in front of them more.
2. Score and score some more - The bottom line is that Tennessee can't score enough points. They feel pressure to score every possession. They have tried to down play it, but they do feel that burden. Quarterback Tyler Bray alluded to it on Saturday when asked if he liked playing in high scoring games and he said that he didn't because of how much stress it puts on you. Well, welcome to stress because this offense needs to score a lot. They have a real challenge against a pretty highly regarded Missouri defense that is really good in the defensive front. Tennessee has scored more points against Eastern Division foes Florida, South Carolina and Georgia than any other team has. They needed to make that trend continue Saturday against Eastern Division Missouri.
3. Defend the return game - It was about this time a year ago when the special teams coverage units were drawing praise for their work and Arkansas' Joe Adams returned a punt for a score that's still running on an ESPN highlight reel somewhere. Missouri brings in a real weapon in the return game in Marcus Murphy. Murphy is averaging 15 yards a punt return and 30 yards a kickoff return. He has also scored three punt returns and a kickoff return for a touchdown. The Vols must be sound with their coverage units Saturday.
4. Finish in the red-zone - And that means finish with touchdowns. Tennessee is 40 of 46 on the season scoring points when inside the opponents 20 yard line. In the last three weeks they have been inside the 20 thirteen times and have scored in 10 of those 13 trips. But they have only scored 5 touchdowns. Last week they had just 3 touchdowns on 6 trips inside the twenty. Tennessee must finish off drives in the endzone and not settle for field goals.