KEYS TO THE GAME:
For Tennessee it is all about protecting Tyler Bray. The sophomore is the key to the offense and everyone knows that thumb is still a little sore. James Franklin will do everything he can to get pressure and some shots on Bray and the offensive line must protect their cornerstone quarterback.
On the other hand, the key for Vanderbilt has to be getting pressure on Bray and hitting him as much as possible. Everyone knows that Bray is what makes the Big Orange machine run. If you are Vandy you do everything you can to get Bray back on the sidelines.
— Tennessee has won 27 of 28 games against the Commodores dating back to 1983.
— On Saturday, Senior Day, 14 Tennessee players will play in their final home game in Neyland Stadium.
— Tyler Bray will be making his first start in five weeks since breaking his thumb against SEC opponent Georgia.
— Vanderbilt leads the Southeastern Conference in explosive plays with 14 covering more than 40 yards.
— Vanderbilt ranks fifth nationally in interceptions with 15 on the year.
— Vanderbilt opened as a road favorite (+1.5) in Neyland Stadium for just the second time since 1985.
Tyler Bray — 116-176, 1579 yds., 14 TD/2 INT
Tauren Poole — 159 att., 554 yds., 4 TD
Da'Rick Rogers — 55 catches, 886 yds., 7 TD
Jordan Rodgers — 80-155, 1166 yds., 7 TD/6 TD
Zac Stacy — 138 att., 891 yds., 9 TD
Jordan Matthews — 29 catches, 569 yds., 4 TD
WHAT A WIN MEANS:
For Tennessee, it will be essential for the Volunteers to get a win. If they can't get it done it would mean the end of their season without a bowl game. People may, for the first time, start to have reason to question if Derek Dooley is the right man for the job in Knoxville. Tennessee MUST get it done. Simple as that.
Vanderbilt would be riding high if they can get a win in Knoxville Saturday. James Franklin could prove that he has the Commodores on the rise in the Southeastern Conference. It would be huge for Franklin, the players and the program if they could climb the hump and get a win. They smell blood in the water. Can they get over the mental hump?
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Tyler Bray (sophomore, quarterback)
Bray is finally back in the lineup this week for the first time in five weeks. He has been itching to get back in the lineup ever since he broke his thumb in the Vols loss to Georgia.
Bray is the guy that makes the Tennessee offense tick. It will be important for him to make good decisions against a Vanderbilt secondary that is among the national leaders in interceptions. May the force be with you Mr. Bray.
Mychal Rivera (junior, tight end)
Welcome back Mr. Rivera. No one is more excited that Bray is back in the lineup than the Vols tight end. He was among the team's top receivers before Bray went down and was on his way to a bid season.
With Bray back look for Rivera to once again get involved in the Volunteers passing attack. He will likely be open across the middle of the field, as he has been most of the season, the difference being, Bray knows where to find him.
If you read this week's "Alumni Analysis" you know that Terry Fair emphasized the importance of the Volunteers secondary playing disciplined football. Jordan Rodgers running ability will put added pressure on the Vols DBs.
The Volunteers secondary must be sure not to break off their receivers too early in able to provide assistance in the run game. Rodgers will make them pay if they make the wrong decisions.
Jordan Rodgers (junior, quarterback)
Since the emergence of Rodgers things have turned around for the Commodores. Rodgers has thrown his share of interceptions with six in 2011. He needs to make sure that he takes care of the ball in Knoxville to have a chance.
He also brings an ability to hurt you with his feet. He needs to bring his A-game to Knoxville and help bring down the Volunteers in Neyland Stadium. If he plays his game it might be a long day for Tennessee.
Vanderbilt defensive line
They are going to do everything they can to get to Tyler Bray. It will be essential for the Commodores defensive line to get Bray out of his comfort zone early and often. If you give him time he will carve you up.
Look for Vandy to bring a variety of blitzes and pressures in order to get to Bray and get him out of the game. Without Bray the Volunteers offense loses a ton of steam.