The Tennessee Volunteers (3-2, 0-2 in SEC) have an opportunity to shock the college football world and use the friendly home confines of Neyland Stadium to welcome the No. 1 team in the nation, the LSU Tigers, today.
LSU (6-0, 3-0 in SEC play) is looking to enter the initial BCS rankings in the top position. For Tennessee to impress the nation on national TV, here are the adjustments it will have to make at the half to win.
5. Win the mental war
A classic example was the 4th-and-1 at midfield midway through the first quarter. Instead of a shot of continuing a drive, a false start up front turned it into a 4th-and-6 punting situation. If the Volunteers have any shot of pulling off this upset, they'll have to limit mental mistakes to an absolute minimum in the second half.
4. Continue to force LSU to throw
Tennessee is stacking the box with an eight-man front to limit LSU's ferocious ground game. Brent Brewer has led the charge with some plays in the backfield early. The Volunteers must stick to the same game plan, and make Zach Lee pass the ball to beat them. The secondary has a better shot of picking Lee off than the defensive front has to slow down the rushing attack.
3. Don't give the game away
Matt Simms can't try to win the game himself, he just needs to do a decent job of handling LSU's pressure, and limit turnovers. If Tennessee falls far behind in the turnover battle, it'll be the difference between being in striking distance and a blow out.
2. Seek soft spots in LSU defensive zone
LSU may have the very best defense in college football, but it's based on a tremendous defensive line and tremendous secondary. Although the team has enough speed to recover, Simms can find some soft spots over the middle. He needs to have confidence in his tight end and Da'Rick Rodgers to make plays for him in these spots.
1. Offense needs to build on late score
The Volunteers defense has done a stellar job keeping the team in the game, but the offense will need to pick up where it left off late in the first half. The touchdown drive featured success on both the air and ground. That balance will be essential to more offensive success in the second half.