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November 2, 2012

The Cheat Sheet

Saturday morning, the Vols start their new season. A final month of 4 games with post season play implications and program implications for the future on the line. It starts against Troy and a team that will throw it early and often. What's key for the Vols to end their 4 game losing streak, find out in our Saturday morning Cheat Sheet.

Intensity/emotion - Last week, there was a lot of talk about the South Carolina game being the final game to get a "big" win over a ranked opponent. It was a true statement and certainly heartache for the Vols that they couldn't get the win. The question now is can the Vols show the maturity they have shown all year and ramp up their intensity and emotional level Saturday morning. The one thing you can't criticize about the program this year is their effort and showing up each week. That must continue Saturday morning at home in a game where Neyland Stadium won't be at capacity.

Score - Yes, I know that you always have to score, but for this team there is no such thing as enough points. Tennessee has scored more than 30 points in 3 of their 5 losses this season and the defense has only held two opponents to less than 25 points. So as simple as it may seem, this team has to score. They can't miss out on opportunities for points particularly early in the game. Troy is going to throw it a lot and one expect they will score some points. Tennessee can't dig themselves a hole.

Don't hemorrhage - Early in the year, when talking about the reason he went to this style of defense, head coach Derek Dooley said he wanted to affect offenses and not just die a slow death allowing teams to methodically drive the ball down the field on his team. That's not the problem. The problem is a fast death thanks to big plays. Tennessee's defense has given up 50 plays of 20 yards or more. In South Carolina's 6 scoring drives a week ago, each drive had a play of 23 yard or more. Tennessee has to find a way to stop giving up the chunk plays.

Keep it simple - Through eight games, there has been repeated talk about making things more simple. Saturday at South Carolina there was continued confusion pre-snap, and mistakes of both technique and scheme after the snap. This week Dooley has talked about mastering something on defense. Something they can hang their hat on. Developing that has to start with not doing more than the defense can mentally understand and physically do. Finding that identity is a must in November and it starts today with a real challenge against a spread passing game that puts pressure on the secondary. For the Vols it's a secondary with little confidence and full of issues.

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