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November 23, 2013

The Cheat Sheet

Tonight, Tennessee looks to keep their bowl hopes alive and looks to send a very resilient senior class out of Neyland Stadium on a winning note against a bowl eligible Vanderbilt team that's full of confidence. What's key to Tennessee getting to win number 5? Here are four in what we call 'The Cheat Sheet'.

1. Protect the ball - Tennessee has just 7 turnovers in Neyland Stadium this season. They have forced 16 mistakes this season at home. Vanderbilt has made a living off opponents turnovers the last two weeks by creating 7 takeaways. At Florida, Vanderbilt created 4 Gator turnovers and they turned into their first victory at Florida in 22 years. Tennessee must take care of the football in their home finale if they are going to get their 5th win of the year.

2. Defensive front must show - I know many fans are tired of hearing me talk or write about Tennessee's lack of production from the defensive front. But the reality is that they are not producing at the line of scrimmage or behind the line of scrimmage. Against South Carolina they produced 4 sacks and 3 other tackles for loss. The last three weeks, they have just a half tackle for loss and have had a sack. Tennessee's defensive front must rise to the occasion and produce Saturday night.

3. Don't let Matthews beat you - Jordan Matthews has been creating havoc in the SEC his entire career. Matthews is 4 catches away from becoming the all time SEC leader in receptions. Last week against Kentucky, Matthews had 12 catches for 141 yards. A year ago, he burned the Vols for 115 yards on 7 catches including a 71 yard touchdown catch. He also had a 47 yard touchdown run. How important has Matthews been the last two weeks? He has 17 receptions for 186 yards. As a team, Vanderbilt's passing game has 26 catches for 244 yards.

4. Be passionate - Head coach Butch Jones talks about it regularly. Emotions fade which is why Jones always talks about the need to be passionate because passion last the entire game. Tennessee's seniors will be emotional, senior days always are. For this team, the key is to not be caught up in the emotions at the start and it's just as important to not let the emotions fade during the game. Vanderbilt will come ready to play. And they will believe. Tennessee must match their emotion for the entire 60 minutes.

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