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November 9, 2013

The Cheat Sheet

This afternoon, Tennessee finds themselves with another big challenge as top 10 Auburn comes to town. For the Vols, the challenges are numerous. Here are four of the biggest keys in our Saturday morning Cheat Sheet.

1. Win upfront - The formula for the Vols has been pretty simple. When they lean on the run they have a chance. In Tennessee's four wins this season they have 979 yards on 175 carries (5.6 yards a carry). In their five losses, the Vols have 654 yards on 154 carries (4.25 yards a carry). In Tennessee's two best games (Georgia and South Carolina) they Vols rushed for 335 yards on 82 carries. Last week, Tennessee only had 24 rushes for 94 yards and 33 came on one Josh Dobbs carry. The offensive front was flagged with 5 false starts. Missouri had 7 tackles for loss, 3 sackes, and a batted pass by a defensive lineman. Dobbs first interception was cause when his arm was hit as he threw. Simply put if this offense is going to have a chance to stay on the field and get back to what we saw against Georgia and South Carolina they have to win up front with their veteran offensive line.

2. Play in space - The scariest part of this match up today is Auburn's speed from their offensive spread against Tennessee's lack of speed on defense. The challenge for the Vol defense is do something they haven't been able to do all year and that's play in space. The key to that is that the defensive front has to win some one on one battles, the linebackers must take better angles and the secondary can't have the communication problems we have seen the last two weeks. It's a huge challenge as Tennessee can't get any faster. Auburn's offensive desire is to use their speed to play one on one football something that Tennessee got a heavy dose of last week at Missouri.

3. Be passionate - Head coach Butch Jones doesn't feel his team is out of gas. But you wonder if playing four top 10 teams the last five weeks has taken its toll on this team. Tennessee couldn't take advantage of early chances last week and for the last two games, Tennessee hasn't played with the passion they played with against Georgia and South Carolina to start this run against the top 10. Jones said it was important for something good to happen to his team early on Saturday and that would be nice. But for the Vols to make it a 60 minute fight they must regain and sustain for an entire game the passion in which they played with against South Carolina and Georgia.

4. Win the turnover margin - You can make this point every week, but with a young quarterback making just his second start and an offense that's laboring for points against good competition, Tennessee cannot lose the turnover battle. In wins, the Vols are +9 in takeaways. In losses, they are -9. The last two weeks they are -4. Tennessee has to take care of the football against an Auburn team that needs no extra opportunities.

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