Knoxville, Tennessee will be rocking tonight as the Volunteers hope to keep pace for the lead in the SEC. To do so, they have to avoid being tripped up by the winless Aggies. The Volunteers were voted the number one team in the nation, and they want to keep that ranking for another week. We’ll get into how they can avoid that, but first, here’s how the Aggies can pull off the upset.
I know the Aggies are winless, but it’s not because of their offense. Quarterback Daniel Murphy put up over 200 passing yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Then, Murphy racked up 96 yards on the ground with two rushing touchdowns. Halfback Tim Riggins contributed 200 yard performance on the ground with three rushing touchdowns. Wide receiver Christian Barnes finished with three grabs and a touchdown, picking up 88 yards, including a 72 yard dime drop from Murphy. This brings it all back to the fact that this offense is not a detriment to the Aggies. They just need to continue to roll.
The defense, right now, is where the issue lies. They gave up almost 550 yards to Penn State of all teams. Not knocking what Penn State did, but as far as talent on paper goes, that’s not good. Linebacker Fletcher Reyne had 10 tackles and a tackle for a loss, and safety Derrick Doyle added eight tackles of his own. Unfortunately, they need more help, and unless they can generate turnovers, the Aggies are in big trouble.
Speaking of trouble, check out quarterback Dewey Ainge. The man had four passing touchdowns last week to go with his 439 passing yards, and didn’t throw an interception. The man tossed up a hail mary for the game winner over the Huskies. Ainge is trouble for defenses and there’s no way around that. Him and receiver Scotty Stallworth. Stallworth finished with eight catches for 207 yards and three touchdowns, including the 86 yard bomb. The chemistry these two share is unreal, and don’t leave out Donny Kazee. The halfback’s week one performance is starting to look more like the Volunteers caught lightning in a bottle than anything consistent. But, Kazee is consistent in his ability to contribute and help keep some of the pressure off Ainge.
The Volunteers defense kept Washington out of the sky last week, same couldn’t be said for the ground game though. They gave up 100 rushing yards to the quarterback, and 150 rushing yards to the halfback. The defense has to step up tonight. Defensive end James Mitchell recorded eight tackles, four for a loss, a sack, and forced a fumble. Linebacker Ronald McFish had nine tackles and a tackle for a loss. Safety Andrew Tillman got in on the action too, recording 13 tackles and a tackle for a loss. Unfortunately, the defense needs to do more tonight, either that or McFish needs to take the game over.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Don’t be surprised if Dewey Ainge comes out and just starts slinging it all over the lot against the Aggies. Scotty Stallworth and Ainge could have another big game, which means Donny Kazee could explode back onto the scene again. If he does, watch out, this offense becomes even more dangerous than it already is.
HB Tim Riggins v. LB Ronald McFish
Riggins is going to drive the offense, we all know it. As Riggins goes, so too can the rest of this offense, meaning to win, the Volunteers have to stop him. That charge will be left to Ronald McFish. The stellar linebacker has had several great moments, but has yet to string it all together in a game and absolutely dominate from start to finish. Now’s as good a time as any. If McFish takes control tonight then watch out, the Aggies could be locked up fast.
Look, Texas A&M is doing all they can to earn that win, fighting hard every step of the way, and I expect they’ll put up a fight tonight. Unfortunately, the Volunteers are on a three game win streak and look really good. Dewey Ainge is coming off a major performance and this offense is clicking. I suspect Daniel Murphy will be able to keep things interesting, but if Riggins gets slowed down then I can see the Volunteers winning comfortably.
Texas A&M 35, Tennessee 45