Oregon Ducks vs Tennessee Volunteers Complete Game Preview
The Oregon Ducks are set to host the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday with both teams looking to go 3-0. The Ducks are coming off a 59-10 blowout win at Virginia, while the Volunteers are coming off a 52-20 win over Western Kentucky.
The Tennessee score looks like a blowout on the surface, but the Vols were the beneficiary of an almost unthinkable five turnovers on just six offensive plays during one stretch in the first half. The Vols were out gained by the Hilltoppers, won the turnover battle seven to one and committed just two penalties to the Hilltoppers' eight.
The once-mighty Volunteers will likely need to duplicate the numbers from the turnover and penalty columns if they hope to keep pace with the second-ranked Ducks, who dismantled the Vols 48-13 in Knoxville during the 2010 season.
Here's everything you need to know.
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Place: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore.
Spread: Oregon is favored by 27.5 points, according to www.Vegas.com
Tennessee Keys to Victory
When the Ducks visited Knoxville in 2010, the Volunteers controlled the ball early on with the power run game. If they can establish control of the line of scrimmage early in the game, they will have an opportunity to keep the Oregon crowd out of the game.
Take advantage of their opportunities
Should the Ducks decide to turn the ball over a handful of times like Western Kentucky did last week in Knoxville, the Vols will need to pounce and not leave any points out on the field. The Ducks have been glued to the ball so far in 2013 as they have created six turnovers without having any of their own.
Limit Oregon's big plays
Oregon trailed 13-3 in Knoxville in 2010 before big plays turned the tide of the game and saw the Ducks outscore the Vols 45-0 the rest of the way. LaMichael James went 72 yards for a score, Cliff Harris returned an interception 76 yards for a score and Kenjon Barner returned a punt 80 yards for another touchdown.
The Ducks have a habit of breaking off one big play after another once they get rolling, and the Vols will need to do everything they can to keep the Ducks from repeating what they did in 2010.
Oregon Keys to Victory
The Ducks have committed 11 penalties in each of their first two games. Penalties come from a lack of focus and a lack of discipline. While Tennessee is a middle of the pack SEC program, they are still a huge step up from the Ducks first two opponents. Too many penalties can add up quickly, and the Ducks are becoming far too comfortable with the yellow flags flying.
In order to limit the Vols' opportunities, the Ducks will need to maintain their composure against the Vols, who will be out for revenge from the 2010 matchup.
Keep it Moving
Oregon is one of the very few teams that can beat Oregon. As long as the Ducks stick to what they do best by running the ball and playing at a fast pace, they should run away with a big victory against the outmatched Vols.
Stop the Run
If the Ducks can shut down the run, it will force the Vols to beat them through the air. The Ducks' secondary is too good for that to happen, and the Tennessee air attack has been mostly unimpressive so far this season.
Tennessee Players to Watch
Worley has been largely unimpressive in the Vols first two games. The 6'4" junior has thrown for 246 yards and four touchdowns with one interception thus far. He will need to step it up in a big way if the Vols hope to stay in contact with the Ducks.
RB Rajion Neal
Neal has been the workhorse for the Vols early on and has the ability to pound the ball into a largely untested Oregon defensive line. Neal has rushed 31 times for 215 yards in the Vols' first two contests.
Moore, who originally attended USC, has blossomed into a team leader. He is coming off of an outstanding 2012 campaign in which he totaled 86 tackles and five interceptions.
Oregon Players to Watch
The diminutive Thomas has carried the ball 29 times for 252 yards and five touchdowns. His durability has been questioned, but so far he has shown no signs of breaking down. An SEC defensive front will put that to the test. This could be the game where the Ducks turn him loose in the slot to be more versatile in the Ducks' offense.
QB Marcus Mariota
The Ducks' Heisman Trophy candidate has been very good thus far in 2013. He has rushed for 235 yards and three scores on just nine carries. He hasn't been as sharp as the Ducks would like through the air. He is 26-of-49 for 433 yards and three touchdowns on the year. He will need to be a little more accurate as the season rolls along. Facing an SEC defense will be a good place to start.
DE Tony Washington
The 6'3", 243-pound junior has come into his own and looks to be the Ducks lead pass-rush threat. He is coming off a career game in which he had 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Tennessee has an experienced and talented offensive line which will challenge Washington and the rest of Oregon's talented defensive front.
What They Are Saying
Butch Jones is 2-0 as Tennessee's head coach, but he knows the challenge his team is faced with on Saturday, per Alex Cates of UTSports.com.
"I think as we continue to move forward it's taking care of the little things," said Jones. "And the little things add up to the big things and it's the small details, it's the discipline that it takes to go on the road playing a tremendous opponent, a great opponent in a hostile environment and I think that's been the message is the focus, the discipline football, being fundamentally sound."
Long-time Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti likes what he sees out of this year's Tennessee team, per Madison Guernsey of the DailyEmerald.com.
“They have a veteran crew and they’re good,” said defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti of Tennessee. “I like their o-line. I like their team. This is an SEC team, it’s a good football team with good athletes. They have been down some, 2-0 this year though. It’s a new year, new coach, new energy.”
Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich admits that the Vols are by far the most athletic team they have faced this year, per Madison Guernsey of the DailyEmerald.com.
“They’re really talented [on] both sides of the ball,” Helfrich said. “Typical SEC — big, huge up front on the offensive line. Very physical, very athletic. Fast, physical, huge defensive line. Really athletic on the back ends. They’re by far the most athletic team that we’ve played to date.”
Oregon 52, Tennessee 17
Tennessee could give the Ducks a challenge with an experienced offensive line and talented running backs, but they don't have the offensive firepower to stay with the Ducks. Oregon will be fired up to defend their home turf against the mighty SEC and will win this one going away on the strength of Marcus Mariota, De'Anthony Thomas and an opportunistic defense that will force Vols' QB Justin Worley into some mistakes.