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November 23, 2012Saturday Tennessee looks to close out the 2012 season with a win to avoid becoming the first Vol team to go winless in SEC play in a season. In order to get their first conference win, it's not as much about x's and o's as it is about heart and desire. Here are four keys for the Vols to end the disappointing 2012 season on a winning note in our weekly Cheat Sheet.
1. Be emotional - Most of the time on senior day you are worried about your seniors and team being too caught up in the day and too emotional, but this isn't most of the time. It's been a difficult week for the team with so many unknowns about the future and nothing to play for to end the season. So the question is does this team have any motivation to play. Can they find the emotion to play for each other and to play the final game of a most disppointing season with pride and desire.
2. Handle pressure - The last 6 quarters defenses have given the offensive line some issues. Defensive fronts have been jumping around and coming from different places trying to confuse the offensive line. It's been effective. Missouri was effective with it in the second half in stopping the run. Vanderbilt was effective in pressuring Tyler Bray with their stemming and movement up front. Kentucky will move around and try to confuse the Vol offensive line today. Tennessee must handle it.
3. Make Kentucky earn it on offense - It's been a key for the entire season for the Vol defense who has given up 21 touchdowns in SEC play which is 5 more than any other defense in SEC play. The last two weeks, the Vol defense has played more conservative. They have played zone coverage and have tried to limit some big plays. It has worked in spurts, but not for 60 minutes. That style of play also came with a heavy handed influence from Derek Dooley who's obviously not here now. So what's the defensive stragedy for this week?
4. Fight for 60 minutes - The most disappointing thing about the loss to Vanderbilt was the fact that for the first time all year, the team didn't battle for 60 minutes. Bray and his receivers clearly didn't play with the effort and focus that is needed in the SEC. When things got bad in the third quarter, the Vols checked out. They have nothing to play for this week other than pride and each other. Can they channel that and turn it into a 60 minute effort needed in the SEC. No Tennessee team has ever gone winless in SEC play. That should be enough motivation for this team to play with the right effort this afternoon.