Here are the storylines to watch going into Tennessee’s game against Missouri today.
Tennessee’s Win Streak
I guess I’m just going to keep writing about it until it ends, but Tennessee is currently on a pretty solid win streak. They have the longest active win streak among power-5 teams with seven. And it should be eight after this week, given Tennessee’s advantages over Missouri. But there are no off weeks in the SEC…unless you’re playing Vanderbilt. Then you’ve pretty much got a week off.
Tennessee’s Offense vs. Missouri’s Defense
This is a bit off a cop out, I know. Saying two entire units are a storyline to watch is just vague. But think about it; we all know Jarrett Guarantano is a player to watch today. As he goes, the Vols go. We all want the run game to get going as well, behind that road grading offensive line (more on that in a bit). And the young receiver group has already flashed some potential one game into the season.
On the other side of the ball, Missouri has a good, not great, the defense led by Nick Bolton and Tyree Gillespie. They only managed two sacks and one forced turnover against Alabama last weekend. Sure, Alabama is one of the best teams in the country, but that game was over by the third quarter. Tennessee should show their true colors, and hopefully, flex their muscles a little bit today against this Missouri defense.
When Tennessee’s defense is on the field, we already know what to expect. Larry Rountree III will probably get 25-30 touches, and Shawn Robinson will probably throw for around 200 yards. But Tennessee wins that match up nine times out of ten.
Now, that may change if Tennessee can’t find a way to keep their defense off the field. And the best way to do that is to convert third downs…
Converting On Third Down
Tennessee managed to convert one third down last weekend against South Carolina. Not great! But it was a spectacular grab from Brandon Johnson for a 30 yard gain when it was only third and two. Great!
But this weekend will hopefully be different. Missouri allowed Alabama to convert nine of their 14 third downs last weekend. That 64% conversion rate is currently the best in the country. Which means Missouri currently has the worst third-down defense in the country. Is that a gimmicky stat due to sample size and opponent? Of course, it is, but it fits the narrative here, so we’re rolling with it.
Basically, if Tennessee’s offense can’t convert third downs today, we may have a pretty serious problem on our hands.
Eli’s First SEC Roadtrip
Goofy goober Eliah Drinkwitz has yet to prove he is an SEC caliber head coach. He got a job at a mid-major Appalachian State program after a so-so run as an offensive coordinator. Granted, his one season at App State went well; it’s hard to fake a 12-1 record.
But did he deserve to become the head coach at an SEC program? The jury is still out. He has never gotten to coach an entire class that he recruited, and he has never experienced the grind of a power five conference schedule. And now he gets 10 SEC games in one season? Good luck, Eli. I don’t envy your situation.
This weekend will be his first road trip to an SEC school as a head coach. Sure it will be in front of a quarter full Neyland Stadium, but this sure as hell isn’t Kidd-Brewer Stadium.
Cade Mays Is Free!