The University of Tennessee will open their 2012 home schedule this Saturday with a scrimmage against what is essentially a scout team, Georgia State. The Panthers are just terrible, evidenced by their loss last week against FCS opponent South Carolina State, 33-6. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. and will be televised on Pay-Per-View. UT took down the ACC’s North Carolina State Wolfpack in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic last Friday in Atlanta.
The Vols will be looking to tie up some loose ends as they head in to the most important game of the 2012 season on September 15th against the Florida Gators. Here are a couple of things I will be watching this weekend:
1. The Running Game
Last week, UT rushed the football 38 times for a net of 191 yards. 67 yards of that total came on Cordarelle Patterson’s TD-run in the 1st Quarter. Raijon Neal, Marlin Lane and Devrin Young all carried the football for the Vols, but Lane and Neal did the majority of the work. In last year’s season opener versus Montana, UT averaged 2.8 yards per rush. Last week against N.C. State they averaged 5.0 yards per rush. That’s a pretty major improvement. Late in last week’s game, Derek Dooley showed some displeasure with Raijon Neal’s running style, so look for the Vols to go to work on the running game against Georgia State with the Gators looming.
2. Justin Hunter
Justin Hunter, in my opinion, made a successful return from a repaired ACL that he injured in early 2011. Hunter had 9 receptions for 73 yards, but did have a couple of drops, one on a 4th down conversion attempt and another on a long pass attempt from Tyler Bray. After looking a little rusty in the 1st half, Hunter came alive in the 2nd half, helping UT convert several 3rd and longs against the Wolfpack. Some people didn’t think he looked very good against the Wolfpack, but I thought he was just fine. I look for Hunter to have a big day against Georgia State as he looks to sharpen his skills for the Gators.
3. Pass Coverage
Yes, the Vols had 4 interceptions against Sean Glennon last Friday, but they did give up 288 yards passing. There were several blown coverages that left Wolfpack Tight Ends running free downfield. That can’t happen against Florida in two weeks. Look for Coach Sunseri to tighten up the Vols Secondary and Linebacking corp as September 15th approaches.
I’m obviously having to reach for things that I think UT needs to improve upon, but these three items seem to be the biggest areas of improvement that UT needs to work on against Georgia State as they head into Florida week.
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