By: Ryan Roberts – (@RRoberts1027)
Coming into the season, the No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers were a trendy pick to crash the playoff party. They have been a team who has slowly been building a talented core under head coach Butch Jones. They come into week 6 as a team who has escaped a few nail biting finishes the first few games, but they now seem primed to make a run of dominance in the later stages of the season.
This Saturday will however, be the hyped up Vols toughest test, as they travel to College Station to take on the undefeated No. 8 Texas A&M Aggies. The Aggies boast a bevy of playmakers out wide and an athletic defense that includes several NFL caliber players.
Scouts will undoubtedly be in attendance with so much pro talent sharing the field. The key separator will come down to which of these athletic quarterbacks (Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs and Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight) can make enough plays to win it.
Texas A&M’s Keys to Victory
This is not your typical Aggies team we have come to know under the guidance of head coach Kevin Sumlin. They still possess a plethora of NFL talent out wide with a streaky quarterback that has the ability to be electric through the air and on the ground. The difference for these Aggies is they now boast a stingy defense that can more adequately stand up to an SEC caliber offensive attack.
On offense, the Aggies have some inconsistencies but there is no doubting the level of athletes. Trevor Knight should be nicknamed the Renaissance Man. He has come out of nowhere to jump start what was once a very promising career with the Oklahoma Sooners. To win this game, Trevor Knight must account for at least three touchdowns and pick up five first downs with his legs. On defense, the Aggies must corral Josh Dobbs in the pocket with their pair of stud defensive ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall, and force him to beat them solely with his arm.
Tennessee’s Keys to Victory
For Tennessee to really throw its resume into the playoff discussion, they must take care of business on Saturday against the Aggies. Texas A&M sports two of the better safeties in college football in Armani Watts and Justin Evans. They both can however be slightly over aggressive, causing for some explosive plays in the passing game. This is a game where Josh Dobbs must finally take the next step as a passer. If Dobbs can produce four or more explosive plays of twenty yards or more, then Tennessee should be able to win the game. Dobbs will be even more heavily leaned on due to running back Jalen Hurd having to miss the game with an injury. On defense, Tennessee must tackle well in space and keep everything in front of them. Eliminating explosive plays is the key.
Playing in College Station is no easy task. This game will be no exception as the 12th man proves to be a huge decider in the Aggies home victory. Trevor Knight takes on similar form from his bowl game performance against Alabama a few seasons ago, accounting for over 350 total yards. On defense, Garrett and Hall combine for four sacks, while Justin Evans picks off a pass and collects double digit tackles. Aggies top the Volunteers 35 to 21.