The Rundown: Rocky Top Heavy on Volunteers

After the firing of legendary coach Phillip Fulmer and the sudden bolt of Lane Kiffen the University of Tennessee couldn't have a more fitting mascot for their football program: Volunteers. The Vols started the 2010 season with 76 scholarship players putting them well below the maximum limit of 85.

There are a handful of programs in college football that command respect and have well above average results on the field. Tennessee was one of these programs, but a record of 13-13 in their last 26 games along with three different head coaches takes them out of the elite ranks. Head Coach Derek Dooley who is the son of legendary coach Vince Dooley of Georgia came to Tennessee after several stops in the Southeastern Conference and a head coaching job at Louisiana Tech of the WAC. Dooley's overall record as a head coach is now 18-30, including last week's win over Tennessee-Martin.

Regardless of who was named as the replacement for Lane Kiffen the roster would be short handed and very inexperienced for the 2010 season. On offense the entire quarterback stable is new. A junior college transfer (Matt Simms) that happens to be the son of Phil Simms and a true freshman (Tyler Bray) from California battled for the starting position with the younger Simms winning the job. Both running backs from the 2009 squad ( didn't return, but talent is still there for the 2010 season. The biggest hole to cover is the SEC's least experienced offensive line. An offense goes the way of the line and it usually takes time for this unit to gel. The wide receivers are the deepest group on the offense, but a receiver is a product of a good quarterback and a quarterback is the product of a good line.

The Volunteer defense will be deep at linebacker, but there are question marks everywhere else. One huge boost for this unit was the hiring of Justin Wilcox to run the defense. Wilcox had a very impressive stint at the same position at Boise State.

With the Vols facing FCS Tennessee-Martin in week one it's hard to gauge just how well they are playing. Basically, last Saturday was a tune up game to get ready for Oregon.

The Ducks are coming off of a record breaking home opener against a New Mexico team that no one was expecting much of a fight from. Just going from the blow-out win it's hard to tell just how good the Ducks really are. One positive to take away is Oregon dominated every aspect of the game for the full 60 minutes suggesting good depth. Fans have to be excited with the defense forcing five turnovers, special teams scoring two touchdowns, and the offense scoring twice through the air and five times on the ground. The Ducks had four players account for more yards than the entire Lobo offense on Saturday.

With the addition of the vertical passing game in the offense that was missing from last season and the reinstatement of star running back LaMichael James the Duck offense looks to be even more explosive this weekend as they travel to Neyland Stadium to take on the Volunteers and their 100,000+ fans.

Volunteers Keys to Victory
Pressure Darron Thomas taking away the vertical passing game.

Contain LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner.

Keep the Duck offense off the field with long sustained offensive drives of their own.

Duck Keys to Victory
Stay balanced on offense while stretching the defense both vertically and side-to-side.

Pressure inexperienced QB Matt Simms

Force turnovers on defense and get off the field in 3rd-and-long situations.

Prediction: Ducks 43, Volunteers 17


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