Establish the run game
Last season, East Tennessee State gave up 173.3 yards a game to opponents on the ground. Offensive coordinator Tyson Helton has been very adamant about establishing the run game for Tennessee and he will look to do so this Saturday. Last week versus West Virginia, the Vols ran the ball 38 times for 129 yards and should easily surpass both those numbers against ETSU on Saturday. Expect Tim Jordan to get the bulk of the carries in the first half then expect to see lots of Madre London, Jeremy Banks, and maybe even Princeton Fant in the second half.
Good secondary play
Despite their poor ground game, the Bucs have a pretty decent QB and passing game. Last season, ETSU averaged 201 passing yards a game and will surely improve on that statistic with new quarterback Logan Marchi who transferred from Temple last season. Marchi started in seven games for Temple last season and averaged 236.9 yards a game. Tennessee’s secondary could surely use this game as an opportunity to gain some confidence and redeem themselves after they got surgically picked apart last weekend at the hands of Will Grier and the Mountaineers.
Obviously, no matter what ETSU does or does not do well matters that much to Tennessee. ETSU is an FCS team and Tennessee is an SEC team, the Vols should easily be able to roll out of bed on Saturday and pick up a win. Just like every other game against inferior competition, the main goal is to leave the game without any injuries. Tennessee still has one of the toughest schedules in the country ahead of them including a brutal five game stretch of No. 25 Florida, at No. 3 Georgia, at No. 7 Auburn, No. 1 Alabama, and at No. 24 South Carolina. I obviously don’t need to tell you that Tennessee cannot afford to lose any players to injury.
Get young players playing time
Like I said in my last point, this game shouldn’t even be close by midway in the second quarter. Let this game be a opportunity to see how some of the younger guys perform under the lights and get them some experience. See how Keller Chryst does at quarterback, see how PFant does at running back, and see how Jacob Warren does at tight end. Get creative with this game and build some depth for the rest of season.
Play J.T. Shrout
Okay, I’ll admit this is more of a personal request to Pruitt and Helton than it is part of the gameplan. Throughout fall camp, the only quarterback Pruitt mentioned by name was J.T. Shrout and anytime somebody asked Pruitt about the quarterbacks he always found a way to make it about Shrout. I know that was obviously just a bit of Pruitt not wanting to show his hand to West Virginia, but you can tell this staff is genuinely excited about the future of Shrout.
Multiple quarterback and NFL coaches have sung his praises on the QB camp circuit and coach Pruitt even said that he had the best arm out of all the quarterbacks at Tennessee. I know that the staff will want to give Chryst a lot of reps on Saturday, but with the new rule that allows players to play up to four games in the season without having to burn their redshirt, I think Shrout should get a couple of series.