When Tennessee football takes on the Pittsburgh Panthers Saturday, the storyline will be about the late Johnny Majors. Pitt won a national title with Majors in the 1970s, and the Vols won three SEC championships under him in the 1980s and 1990s while also winning one behind him as an All-American player in 1956.
However, while Majors rightfully will be honored in this matchup, there’s still a game to play as well. Both teams come in with a 1-0 record and have their first Power Five matchup of the year. A noon kickoff at Neyland Stadium and Majors’ aura could be factors on their own.
Beyond those two, though, there are plenty of other things that will go into Saturday’s game when it comes to determining the winner. UT has a lot more to prove after looking ugly last week, but both are set to be tested. Let’s break down all of the factors that matter most. These are the 10 keys to the game for when Tennessee football hosts Pitt Saturday.
Pat Narduzzi and Josh Heupel operate differently. Narduzzi, despite showing a willingness to throw the ball all over the field, stresses ball control and time of possession over tempo. When his offense was at its best, he had Jim Chaney and Nathan Peterman at quarterback. That should tell you all you need to know about his system.
Heupel, meanwhile, is all about tempo. He’ll actually run it more than Narduzzi, but if his offense doesn’t get to 80 plays, then it was a failure. He wants to keep things at an extremely high pace, and when it is going the way he wants, his offense can score a lot.
As a result, the pace of this game could dictate who wins. If Pitt is able to slow things down and reduce the number of plays, it’ll have a great advantage. Last week, when Tennessee football’s offense slowed down in the second quarter, it couldn’t score. However, if things pick up and go up-tempo, the Vols have a huge advantage.