all VOL, y'all.

Vols Ready Themselves to Get in the Water with the Oregon Ducks

Washington Huskies @ Oregon Ducks November 6, 2010 Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR

Tennessee’s packin’ up their game and heading out west.

A Saturday showdown with the Oregon Ducks looms as Butch Jones and company will have their first opportunity for a national showcase game*.

*Is it really a national showcase game if the game of the year is playing at the exact same time as Money Manziel and the Aggies take on Little Nicky and those guys from Forest Gump’s school? Let’s face it: most of the nation will only be checking into this game during commercial breaks or to see if Oregon can score at will on a Southeastern Conference school. Sidenote: the world NEEDS Manziel to drop 50 on Saturday and continue his national revolt against the NCAA.

/End rant.

Having to travel to Autzen Stadium to face the Ducks with the way they have opened the season is a task that even the most talented Volunteer teams of the past 20 years would struggle to handle. Last night’s Monday Night Football debut of the Chip Kelly offense against the big boys served as a direct message that even the most talented players with topnotch coaching have trouble defending an offense fast-paced enough to satisfy Tom Cruise’s desires.

(You bet I just tried to work in a Top Gun reference. Or was it Days of Thunder? So much Tom Cruise. So little time.)

It is going to be tough. Like deciding to root for Alabama or Florida when the two play each other.

The task at hand is large. Like as big as all of those holes in Sunseri’s defensive scheme last year. Seven touchdowns of at least 70 yards were yielded last season.

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And none of those offenses were remotely close to the explosiveness of Oregon.

The Vols faced off against the Oregon machine in 2010 and jumped out to a 13-3 lead early in the second quarter before being swallowed by the tsunami of the Ducks and getting blown off the field by a final score of 48-13.

At the estimated time of the crime, the coaching had not come under attack; therefore, lack of depth was cited as the main culprit. It is blissfully obvious that the coaching situation on the sidelined has been upgraded twofold.

Depth, however, is a different story.

Rather yet, it’s the same old story.

Tennessee’s first string defense has been revitalized. Saturday against Western Kentucky, they did something that has never been done in the history of college football by forcing five turnovers in the span of six snaps. The second string has looked less than impressive in their action this season.

And this offense on Saturday is not Austin Peay.

At their dramatic pace, they’ve run a blistering 70 plays in only 20.5 minutes. Defensive substitutions will not be rotating single plays, but starters having to sit out entire series.

If Tennessee has a chance, it will come on the legs of Raijon Neal and Marlin Lane running behind the behemoth offensive line full of NFL talent. The tempo must be controlled, and Team 117 will have to move the ball on the ground and with quick-hitting passes putting Justin Worley in position to be successful.

In Oregon’s last defeat, a 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford last year that opened the door for Forest’s school to win a(nother) BCS Championship, Stanford ran the ball for over 200 yards behind a phenomenal individual performance from Stephan Taylor who ran for 161 yards on 33 carries.

The defense has to limit the big plays; there is no way to eliminate them. The special teams must create a drastic field position advantage. The offense cannot turn the ball over even once and create sustaining drives.

If they do those three things, Tennessee will have a chance to have a chance.

Tennessee’s heading out west, a place they have not fared well as of late. If somehow they come back with a win, would anyone really be against them getting treated like cowboys?

(And some of y’all wanted Gundy…)

image: Dave Sizer’s Flickr

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