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October 5, 2013Saturday afternoon, Tennessee looks to stun the SEC and college football as #6 ranked Georgia is in town. For the Vols it's the start of a difficult month of October. Georgia comes in battle tested with wins over two top ten teams an a 3 point road loss to open the year at Clemson. So what's key for the Vols hopes? Here are four in what we call The Cheat Sheet.
Win on third down - Georgia's offense led by Aaron Murray needs no extra chances. The Bulldogs are going to make plays on offense, but when the opportunity presents itself the Vol defense has to get off the field on third down. Last week, Tennessee's defense gave up 5 third down conversions of 6 yards or more. The Vols must get off the field in third and long situations.
Offensively, Tennessee must win first down to make third down a manageable distances and they must win on third and short. In the Vols two losses, the offense is just 10 of 28 on third down conversion attempts. In their three wins, they have converted 47% of their third down attempts. Third downs are huge.
Protect the ball - It starts with taking care of the ball in the passing game. In the last 6 quarters, Justin Worley has thrown 5 interceptions. They have not all be his fault. Some have been poor routes by the receivers or pass protection issues. The bottom line is that regardless of who's at fault this team has no chance of winning if they turn the football over the way they have the last two ball games.
Swarm to the ball - Tennessee missed too many tackles a week ago. Georgia with or without Todd Gurley can run the football. The Dawgs are averaging 4.8 yards a carry and the running backs only have 17 lost yards. A year ago, everyone knows what happened to the Vol defense as the Dawgs had three rushing touchdowns of 51 yards or more. It's imperative that the defense all rally to the football and have their best tackling day.
Get it into the second half- Two weeks ago, Tennessee had several golden opportunities in the first half at Florida to have the lead or at least be tied at the half instead of down 10. Tennessee squandered a chance to get the game into the second half and really start to make Florida nervous and play tight. The anatomy of an upset is to win the turnover battle, make plays when the opportunity presents itself and make the favored team tight in the second half. Tennessee's challenge Saturday is to make the Dawgs nervous/up tight in the second half.