Game Maxims @ Oklahoma


Sep 6, 2014; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers linebacker A.J. Johnson (45) during the second half against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee won 34 to 19. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Tennessee plays on Saturday night during primetime at #3 Oklahoma.  The Sooners are 87-5 at home under Bob Stoops, and 50-14 against non-conference foes.  The Vols are 2-0 after wins over Utah State and Arkansas State to start the season.  However, UT will take a massive jump up in competition when the play under the lights in Norman.

Oklahoma is not only the odds on favorite to win the Big XII, but they are also on track to compete in the first College Football Playoff at the end of the season.  The Volunteers are trying to silence doubters and continue on their path back to relevance.  While a win is not likely for the Vols in this contest, they must follow General Neyland’s Game Maxims to be competitive.

1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. 

UT must avoid committing costly penalties…especially on the offensive side of the ball.  False starts and holding calls will stall drives quickly.  Also, for the Vols to have any chance against the Sooners, they cannot turn the ball over.

2. Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way – SCORE.

The UT defense not only has to contain Oklahoma’s offense, but it would be advantageous if they could create a couple of turnovers.  If they can, then they have to capitalize.

3. If at first the game – or the breaks – go against you, don’t let up… put on more steam.

If the Vols start the game slowly, turn the ball over, or give up an early score, they have to be resilient and strong-minded.  Playing against a top-5 opponent is difficult enough as it is, and they cannot get mentally defeated early in the game.

4. Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game.

The offensive line will need to keep QB Justin Worley upright and give him ample time to throw the ball in order for UT to find any success.  Oklahoma has a very good front 7 and that will be a huge challenge.

5. Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle… for this is the WINNING EDGE.

Cam Sutton will have to come up big against Oklahoma’s star WR Sterling Shepard.  Sutton is one of the top CB’s in the SEC and his performance will be key in keeping the Sooners offense out of the endzone.

6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.

Last season against Georgia, the Vols blocked a punt and returned it for a TD.  That catapulted them to a comeback in a game they eventually lost in OT.  Conversely, against Auburn, the Vols gave up a tie-breaking punt return that broke the game open for the Tigers.

Special Teams has been a bugaboo for UT for quite a while.  When they do play well in the kicking game, they have a much better success rate in close games.

7. Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.

Mental toughness is something Butch Jones preaches to his team.  With the youth of this Volunteer football team, Jones and his coaching staff will need to make sure their players are ready to play an entire 60 minute football game.