Tennessee football has a very tough match-up for its opener against West Virginia. Here are the 10 keys to the game for the Volunteers and Mountaineers.
Jeremy Pruitt could not have asked for a worst match-up issue in his first game as head coach of the Tennessee football program. The Vols’ season-opener against the West Virginia Mountaineers is against a team whose strengths literally exploit their perceived biggest weaknesses. That could make for a scary situation on Game Day.
As UT and WVU get set to face each other at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte Saturday afternoon, you’ve got two teams with totally different outlooks on the season. Rocky Top is rebuilding once again with a first-year head coach. West Virginia, meanwhile, is thinking about a Big 12 Championship with so much returning talent from a 7-6 team.
Tennessee football certainly is playing this game with much less pressure as a 10-point underdog. For them, a win simply changes the outlook of the season in a much more positive fashion, and a loss just means they are meeting par.
A loss for West Virginia, though, will have fans in Morgantown raising their voices a bit against Dana Holgorsen. So the pressure situation could be a lot rougher for him. The good news is he’ll be judged more in Big 12 play, not a non-conference season-opener.
Anyway, despite these issues, the Vols would appear to have the talent to beat WVU. They have higher-rated recruits all over the field, even if their schematic changes under a new head coach plays right into Holgorsen’s hands.
This will be the first time since 2015 that the Vols face Will Grier. That was when he delivered that heartbreaking loss to them while playing for the Florida Gators. Now, the freshmen from that team will be hoping to get revenge.
Can Pruitt and co. pull off the upset? What do they need to do for that to happen? How will West Virginia be able to hold off such a threat? Let’s break that all down here. These are the 10 keys to Tennessee football’s season-opener against the Mountaineers.