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November 17, 2012Tonight, Tennessee tries to earn their first SEC win and extend their winning streak in Nashville over the Commodores. Tennessee hasn't lost in the state capital since 1982 making it 14 straight. What do the Vols have to do in order to make it 15 straight in Music City? Here are four keys in our weekly Cheat Sheet.
Focus -- The message from Derek Dooley this week to his team was to focus internally on themselves as a family and enjoy the rest of the football season. It's obviously a difficult challenge. This team has shown a great amount of maturity. They have bounced back after every loss no matter how difficult. They must bounce back with great focus Saturday night.
Score and score some more-- As fans saw lasat week, no lead is safe or too big. Tennessee's offense must put up big numbers. That means they must finish drives better. Last week, the Vols had a missed field goal and they have had a turnover in the redzone each of the last two weeks. The offense must captialize on all scoring opportunities. They cannot afford to miss field goals and turn the ball over in the redzone.
Finish -- It's amazing how close this team is to being ranked in the top 25 and everyone talking about New Year's Day bowls. Yes, the defense is woeful, but if this team could have finished with the opportunities they have had then the landscape of Tennessee football would be very different. Imagine if this team could have finished off the last possession of the game at Georgia, South Carolina and Missouri. One would expect Saturday night to be a fourth quarter game. The Vols must do something they haven't been able to do all year in SEC play and that's finish.
Prevent big plays -- For a half of ball last week, Tennessee was terrific defensively in limiting big plays. The Tigers longest play in the first half was 11 yards. In the second half, the Vols gave up 6 plays of 20+ yards. Those six snaps resulted in 210 yards and 3 touchdowns. The defense must make Vanderbilt drive the football field time and time again on Saturday and not give up the back breaking big plays. The 'Dores like to take their chances down field. Vanderbilt last week against Ole Miss scored on a 52 yard throw and a 26 yard pass.