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Missouri Game Preview
Posted: Thursday, November 20th, 2014, 7:13 PM
by Josh
The work week had barely even gotten started before the nut shot came. By lunchtime Monday, you better have had your cup on. It really never fails. I'm not making light of the allegations, but it NEVER fails. The only thing I really have to say on the suspensions and allegations of A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams is that all we can do is let the process play out. Butch Jones did the right thing by suspending them. At the very least they shouldn't have put themselves in that position. And certainly, if they are guilty, they need to be in jail. I don't know a lot about Michael Williams but just observing A.J. Johnson the past few years, he doesn't seem to be the type that would celebrate a great win with a rape. But of course, I don't know him on a personal level so I can't say for certain he didn't do it. Only time will tell through this investigation and if he turns out to be innocent, I don't think we will see A.J. again until the bowl game at best. Probably not even then. All we can do is hope for the best in that situation and move on without the suspended players.

The Kentucky game itself was very fun to watch. That was how Tennessee used to handle teams in the late 90's and early 2000's. Except it wasn't just Kentucky they dominated then. It was the likes of Georgia, South Carolina, LSU, Arkansas, and sometimes even Alabama. But it was good to see that kind of performance again. It has been quite a while since we've seen a game like that. I still think that the South Carolina game was the turning point. From that point on, there will be more winning than losing.

That said, Missouri will be a very tough team to beat. They have a great defense and they know how to close out games. They force a lot of turnovers and they play really good special teams. Their offense isn't the greatest, but they did show improvement winning at Texas A&M last week. They have won 9 strait conference road games. That is very hard to do in the SEC. In that span they have won at Georgia, at Florida, at South Carolina, and at Texas A&M. They will by no means be intimidated by Neyland Stadium. The South Carolina game was the turning point. The Missouri game will be a measuring stick game to see if Tennessee really is back.

I think the difference in this game will be Tennessee's offense. Josh Dobbs is a playmaker. He is a special quarterback the likes of which Tennessee hasn't had in a long time. He has great instincts and he is very intelligent. And he is only going to get better. He could have a bad game here and there. What quarterback doesn't? But we need to enjoy and appreciate what we are seeing because it hasn't been seen here in a long time. Booger McFarland said that Josh Dobbs could be a Heisman candidate next year. And of course, gun shy Tennessee fans were saying "pump the brakes". Man I hate that phrase. Just enjoy this Tennessee fans. Tennessee is creeping back up into relevance to the point that its quarterback is being talked about as a Heisman candidate. How long has it been? It's okay to get excited. It's okay to think Tennessee could win the East next year. It's okay to entertain the notion that Josh Dobbs could be a Heisman contender next year. Stop being so damned gun shy. Start acting like a fanbase of a traditional power school that expects to have great players and compete for championships. It is okay to expect this and it is not unfair because Tennessee is historically one of the elite of college football and we should demand and expect no less. This apprehensive loser mentality has to go. Tennessee is better than that. When Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, and LSU had their down years, their fans were still rabid and they still expected to win. Why should Tennessee be any different? Especially when Tennessee is so close to being back.

Now that I've had my rand I will say that I think Missouri will try to make Dobbs beat them with his arm and not his legs. I think he is more than capable of doing that. His passing stats have been pretty good since he took over. He is off target at times but he also makes amazing plays at times too. Despite Missouri's efforts to limit his rushing, I think he will still have some success on the ground. I think Ethan Wolf will continue to make plays as well as Pig Howard and Von Pearson. Jalen Hurd should also be around 100 yards again. If he has great games against Missouri and Vanderbilt, 1,000 yards is in striking distance for him. Missouri may be able to slow down the run, but I think Dobbs will make up for it passing.

Defensively is where my concerns lie. With the 2 suspensions plus Randolph being out the first half, that's a lot of disruption and distraction to overcome. Fortunately for Tennessee, Maty Mauk isn't the greatest quarterback. He hasn't really had a good year and Missouri's offense has struggled a lot. It helps that Todd Kelly Jr will replace Randolph. Tennessee is deep in the secondary so they should be able to absorb the loss of Williams pretty well. Johnson won't be so easy to replace, but maybe the Germanator will at least be able to fill that gap. Missouri's offense had a really good game against A&M but that is contrary to how most of their season has gone. And Tennessee's defense is better than Texas A&M's. Maty Mauk will be under pressure I think and he is prone to make mistakes.

At the end of the day I think Tennessee wins because Josh Dobbs is a better playmaker than Maty Mauk. I do wonder how this team handles a major distraction though. If I can say one thing about Butch Jones, it's that he can get his teams to focus. I think they will be focused on Senior Night despite the distractions.

Tennessee 34
Missouri 17


In other games...

Ole Miss 27
Arkansas 24

Mississippi State 56
Vanderbilt 10

Minnesota 28
Nebraska 27

Arizona 31
Utah 30

UCLA 38
USC 31

Total record straight up (35-25)


That's all I have for now. I appreciate those who took the time to read the blog. For those who want you can follow me on Twitter @Joshes_Blog

Only 2 weeks left of the regular season. Football comes and goes too fast. But his has been a very compelling season with the playoff. Imagine how great it would be with 8 or 16 teams. All of the last minute jockeying and bubble talk would be fantastic.

Have a fun and safe weekend everyone. Go Vols and God Bless!


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