The Tennessee Volunteers finally pulled off an overtime victory against Appalachian State Mountaineers in their 2016 season opener. They will need to play much better than their opening day jitters to beat Virginia Tech on Saturday, September 10 at the Bristol Motor Speedway. This game promises to have the largest attendance of any college football game ever played which may lead to many surprising events if both teams do not keep their nerves under control.
University of Tennessee Offense
Tennessee should win this game because the duo of senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running back Jalen Hurd. Against Appalachian State, the duo got pushed around quite a little bit with Dobbs completing 16 of 29 passes for 191 yards including one touchdown pass. In his junior year, Dobbs threw for 2,291 yards including 15 touchdown passes. Therefore, he should be very anxious to prove that his play against the Mountaineers was just a fluke and that he can handle high-pressure games like the one at Bristol. If Virginia Tech manages to stop his passing game, then remember that Dobbs is one of only three Southeastern Conference players to pass for over 300 yards and run for over 100 yards in a single game. In fact, he has accomplished this feat twice doing it against Georgia in 2015 and South Carolina in 2014.
Virginia Tech Defense
Virginia Tech may have success in stopping the Volunteers. While the new head coach Justin Fuente ushers in a new offensive style, the defense is still under the direction of Bud Foster who needs to prove that he can successfully coach his young players. Many of these players are inexperienced but show great raw talent. If the Volunteers play a sloppy game like they did against Appalachian State, then this may work in Virginia Tech’s advantage.
Virginia Tech’s Offense
Justin Fuente marks his entry into this level of football with four starters returning from the 2015 squad. Fans will witness Fuente’s up-tempo, spread offense led by two talented quarterbacks who are still vying for the job. Jerod Evans is Fuente’s junior college recruit that the coach considers the perfect fit for the job. Battling Evans for the position is fifth-year senior Brenden Motley.
University of Tennessee Defense
During the off season, Tennessee got rid of their defensive coordinator replacing him with Bob Shoop from Penn State. Look for this defense to try to force Virginia Tech to throw the ball wide. They will most likely use a over-front, cover-6 base scheme. The team is blessed with outstanding speed on defense which should allow them to put pressure on their opponents forcing sloppy play.
When the final buzzer goes off, the University of Tennessee should have the victory if they can control the ball. They are embarrassed by their first performance and greatly desire that it not be repeated on Saturday. It is up to the Hokies to prove that they are the better team. If Virginia Tech plans on winning, then they must force the University of Tennessee to play sloppy ball.