After struggling to take care of Georgia Tech on Monday night in a double-overtime victory, the Vols will use this week to smooth out the kinks. Although it should be a walk in the park for Tennessee, it is imperative that they straighten things out heading into conference play next weekend.
Here are five things the Volunteers need to accomplish against Indiana State.
1. Settle Quentin Dormady in
Dormady had a decent outing in his first career start against the Yellow Jackets with 221 passing yards and two touchdowns. Even more impressive was his 12-of-17 passing to finish the game after starting off 8-of-20 in the first half. He will be without his No. 1 receiver Jauan Jennings, but Marquez Callaway stepped up in a big way for Dormady in Jennings’ absence. Freshman Josh Palmer and tight end Ethan Wolf are also promising targets in which Dormady can rely on. Regaining his confidence in the pocket will be key to a win over the Sycamores and for weeks to come.
2. Receive more help from the receivers
Even though the absence of Jennings and other injured receivers on the field is a huge hit to the offense, the Tennessee receiving corps must still improve drastically. Marquez Callaway is now the clear leader of the room following his 115 yard and two touchdown performance against Georgia Tech. However, with Tyler Bird, Josh Smith and Latrell Williams all questionable for Saturday, things become complicated. Palmer will need to step up as the clear No. 2 option for Dormady. Head coach Butch Jones also called on redshirt senior Jeff George as a player that would receive some reps against Indiana State. Tennessee will need big contributions from some unproven receivers to succeed though the air on Saturday.
3. Stabilize the defense
Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and the Tennessee defense are left on its heels after being gashed by Georgia Tech for over 600 yards of offense on Monday night. By no means is this acceptable, but they were also left on the field for over 40 minutes by the exhausting Yellow Jackets’ triple-option. Tennessee will face a much more traditional offense against the Sycamores in hopes that Shoop will whip them back into shape. The secondary, most notably Justin Martin, will have to improve vastly as they face their first real challenge through the air this season on Saturday.
4. Score early and often
Let’s face it, Tennessee is using this game as an easy win and confidence booster before they travel to face Gainesville the next week. Nothing would boost moral more than running away with the game early and preferably before halftime for the Vols. This is potentially one of the few games that Tennessee fans will get to see quarterback Jarrett Guarantano hit the field, as well as other young players. It is important that Tennessee gets its starters out early to avoid any more injury problems, and give its young talent a chance to receive valuable reps against Indiana State.
5. Dig into depth at running back
Kelly carried the Volunteers on his back last week with 19 rushes for 128 yards and four touchdowns in week one. However, highly touted four-star back Ty Chandler only received one carry for seven yards last week and Carlin Fils-Aime didn’t received one. Not to say that Kelly isn’t the best running back on the roster, but if they can tap into their talented depth in the backfield, it will be a huge difference maker going forward. Expect to see Chandler and Fils-Aime quite a bit if Tennessee plays as expected on Saturday. Freshman Tim Jordan will also receive some valuable reps as well.