The Vols worked on fundamentals during their bye week, and one glaring problem. Said head coach Derek Dooley,"Of all the things I guess you could say that we've got to stop this open date, it's these long runs over 30-yards. We've had some real long ones. More than you want in a career." Added Miss State head coach Dan Mullen,"They've been beaten with a bunch of 70 and 80 yard touchdowns or the big plays. They're coming off a bye week, so they've had time to adjust that stuff and get that done." Said Dooley,"Generally start with a little bit of an alignment error. Then it's not playing the blocks very well from just a toughness standpoint. And then the ball breaks, and not being able to get the guy down in space." Said Vols defensive back Prentiss Waggner,"I think if we can wipe out those big plays, we'll be sitting real, real good right now."
19th ranked Mississippi State on the other hand is worried about serving up the big play to Tennessee. Said Mullen,"First thing that jumps out is the explosiveness of their offense. They have NFL type players at every position."
But Dooley believes State has a couple of defensive backs that can go toe-to-toe with the Vols receivers. "Incredibly instinctive. Long and athletic. Those qualities. And their scheme helps them play a lot of zone, so they can just prey on a quarterback breaking down."
Maybe the Vols should bring in Will Ferrell and his cowbell to prepare for their trip to Starkville. Said Dooley,"Of course the cowbells make it a little different. The 55-thousand, plus the cowbells." Said Mullen,"It's going to be a great environment here. I know our fans are going to be fired up. Our student body works hard to give us home-field advantage, which is critical. We always talk, if you want to compete for championships, you have to win your home games."
The Vols and Bulldogs kick at 9pm on Saturday.