2016 Opponent Look Ahead: Tennessee Tech

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    Tennessee vs Tennessee Tech

    When: Saturday, Nov. 5th

    Where: Knoxville, Tenn. (Neyland Stadium)

    Tennessee Tech at a glance

    Head Coach: Marcus Satterfield (1st year at TTU)

    Conference: OVC

    All-time record: 477-552-22

    2015 results: 4-7 (3-5 OVC)

    2015 Overview: The 2015 season marked the end of era in Cookeville as veteran head coach Watson Brown, formally a head coach at Vanderbilt, UAB and elsewhere, retired after a 4-7 campaign, ending his nine-year run with the Golden Eagles.

    That run was mired in mediocracy with a 42-60 overall mark, just a pair of winning seasons and one trip to the FCS playoffs (2011).

    The Golden Eagles struggled in the middle of the conference run last year, taking multiple-score losses to OVC foes UT Martin, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri. They did rebound with a pair of in-state wins over Austin Peay and TSU to wrap up the season and send Brown out on a winning note.

    While Brown brought experience and stability, the Golden Eagles are hoping to turn a new corner with Tennessee native and former Chattanooga and Temple offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield, who also had a stint as a GA under Phillip Fulmer at UT.

    Satterfield helped Temple reach its first top 25 ranking in 36 years during his tenure with the Owls, and he’ll be counted on to bring some energy and relevancy to a TTU program that is looking to make more of a splash in the OVC in the coming years.

    Three questions for this game:

    1. How much will Butch Jones want the starters to play?

    Just telling it like it here: The Vols should be able to control this game in pretty much any scenario. So it will be interesting to see how Butch Jones wants to handle the substitutions. Last season against Western Carolina, he got backup quarterback Quinten Dormady in the game in the first half to give him some opportunities to throw the ball down the field.

    It would make sense that Jones would want to give players such as Dormady, John Kelly and the young receivers opportunities to get in the game early. That’ll allow the Vols to continue to build depth and experience, while resting some of the starters for the three-game stretch of SEC opponents coming after this game.

    2. Can the Vols blank the Golden Eagles?

    Pitching the shutout, even against overmatched opponents, can be a challenge because it takes near perfection from the defense – even guys on the second and third team who may be in the game late. Tennessee might have the depth to do it this year. The Vol backups should be good enough to take on the TTU starters, and possibly get out of Neyland Stadium with zero points given up.

    3. Will any records fall?

    One other interesting factor in terms of how long to play the starters is the record chase that several Vols will be on. Jalen Hurd might be closing in on the career rushing record at UT. Derek Barnett could be getting closer to the sack record. Don’t expect UT to risk anybody’s health in that regard, but it could play into how long some of those guys go in this game.

    How do we expect it to play out?

    This should be a snoozer, no question. Tennessee is far superior at every position and will be able to more or less name the score and dictate the game.

    Executing at a high level, keeping everybody healthy and getting young guys some experience in Neyland Stadium should be the biggest priorities for this game. Tennessee needs to come out of this game feeling confident and rejuvenated for the Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt games – matchups that could determine if UT wins the SEC East.