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5 Keys to Beating Tennessee

Five things State needs to do to beat the Vols.

Butch Dill - Getty Images

  1. Put pressure on Tyler Bray. As good as Bray is, he will make a mistake from time to time, but if you let him stand in the pocket he's got talented enough receivers that someone will get open, and he'll hit them. But get a hand in his face, hurry the throw, and he will throw it away or could make a mistake. Will MSU's D-line be able to get pressure or their own? UT's O-line is experienced and has played pretty well this year, how much of the linebacking corp will be needed to get pressure? And will State utilize the corner blitz with UT's WR being such as threat?
  2. Run right at UT. Both rushing and passing, MSU needs to attack Tennessee and go right at them up the middle. The Vols were a horrible tackling team at UGA two weeks ago, similar to what Auburn showed when they came to Starkville. Go right at them.
  3. Keep an extra eye on Cordarrelle Patterson. Justin Hunter is a great receiver, but Patterson has a little something extra in the special athlete area. A big play probably won't be the end of the world in this game, but this guy is a big play waiting to happen and you don't want him to do it multiple times.
  4. Protect the football. State has done an excellent job of doing this thus far, only two lost fumbles and one INT. If they can limit it to 0 or 1 I think the Bulldogs will be fine.
  5. Placekicking. Devon Bell has made six field goals in a row and they've been things of beauty. But he's done this on ESPN3, PPV and a SEC Network game that SEC fans probably changed the channel on. This is the big stage....can he make his kicks? The spread is 3 - it could come down to that. On UT's side, they've had their own issues, so the kickers may have something to say - or not say - about the outcome of this game.