Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and staff writer Ben McKee will either buy or sell the likelihood of several things happening each week before a Tennessee football game. Here are their takes on the Vols’ match-up with Charlotte for homecoming.
Buy or Sell: Five different running backs will get a carry for the Vols.
I think all five of UT’s scholarship backs get a carry in this one. Madre London hasn’t received much run as of late, and Jeremy Banks is a wildcard since he’s been flip-flopped and wasn’t getting much playing time at running back before temporarily switching to linebacker. But I think the Vols will use all five backs because they want to give Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan a little rest before facing a physical Kentucky defense.
I think three running backs most definitely receive touches. Jeremy Banks, Carlin Fils-Aime and Madre London. The fact the Banks was moved back to running back after less than a week at linebacker, tells me that Jordan or Chandler won’t be able to go. Especially after all the praise he received from teammates and coaches about how he looked on the defensive side of the ball. Why else would he be moved back to running back so quickly?
Buy or Sell: UT gets a non-offensive touchdown on Saturday.
I don’t think the Vols will score off an interception, but I do like their chances of getting one on Saturday. Evan Shirreffs took over at QB for Charlotte just a few weeks ago after starter Chris Reynolds went down with a season-ending injury and he’s tossed three picks in three appearances thus far. I’m not going to bank on UT getting a pick-six, but I do think they’ll force a turnover or two.
Charlotte doesn’t turn the ball over a ton. The 49ers are 37th in the country in turnover margin per game at 0.38. They have a turnover margin of three, which also ranks 37th in the country. Charlotte starting quarterback Chris Reynolds went down to a season-ending injury a few weeks ago, though. Since Evan Shirreffs has taken over at quarterback, the Miami transfer has thrown three picks in three games. If Tennessee scores a non-offensive touchdown on Saturday, my best guess is on a kick return or a punt return. My money would be on Alontae Taylor or Bryce Thompson to come up with a pick-six, if the defense were to score a touchdown.
Buy or Sell: Vols can hold Charlotte to under 100 rushing yards.
The Vols barely held UTEP under 100 yards rushing, allowing them to gain 95 yards on the ground. Plus, the 49ers have a pretty decent running back in Benny LeMay who has gained 745 yards on 141 carries. Tennessee’s defense will get a reprieve from SEC offenses this weekend, but Charlotte has a pretty good ground game for a Conference USA team.
Can they? Absolutely. Will They? No.
Tennessee’s rush defense just isn’t good. It ranks 75th in the country, as the Vols are allowing 169.7 rushing yards per game. Charlotte’s rushing attack is led by junior running back Benny LeMay, who has rushed for 745 yards and six touchdowns on the season. He’s averaging 93 yards per game. As an offense, Charlotte is averaging 143.0 rushing yards per game, just one spot ahead of Tennessee nationally, at 99th.
I get that it’s an inferior opponent and Tennessee should absolutely hold the 49ers under 100 rushing yards, but I just don’t trust the Vols front-seven. After all, Tennessee allowed ETSU to rush for 125 yards in Week 2, and allowed winless UTEP to rush for 95 yards in Week 3. UTEP’s rushing game ranks 106th in the country and ETSU’s rushing offense ranks 80th at the FCS level.
Buy or Sell: Jarrett Guarantano plays in the third quarter.
I think Guarantano plays the first series of the third quarter, and that’s it. I think you’ll see Keller Chryst come in after that and guide the offense for the rest of the game. UT’s coaches likely want to get Guarantano out of the game as quickly as they can, but neither of these programs have particularly quick-strike attacks on offense. I don’t expect Tennessee to be running away with it just yet by halftime, and I think Guarantano sees at least one series in the second half.
If it’s a close game, I think we’ll see Jarrett Guarantano in the third quarter. However, this coaching staff is likely to pull Guarantano as soon as possible. I think we’ll see Keller Chryst as soon as Tennessee is up by at least three scores, and that should come midway through the second quarter. You never know, though.
Buy or Sell: J.T. Shrout makes his Tennessee debut against Charlotte.
I get the idea of putting Shrout out there to see what he can do in a game, and it’s something I would likely do if I were a coach. But I’m not sure it’s the right move, and I don’t think I should be a coach. I don’t really know if it would benefit Shrout a ton, and I don’t know if it would really be fair to Chryst to take him out of the game just to put in a freshman who may not even be the starter next year either. I don’t feel particularly passionate about my sell here, and I kinda hope I’m wrong. I’d like to see Shrout out there.
J.T. Shrout won’t play a ton, but he’ll play just enough to get his toes wet. I think we’ll see Shrout for three or four series in the fourth quarter, and he absolutely should. As of right now, he’s the future of the quarterback position. Tennessee needs to take advantage of the new redshirt rule by getting him some playing time while preserving a year of eligibility.
Bonus Buy or Sell: Georgia beats Kentucky by more than 10 points (spread is -9 UGA).
I think Georgia wins this game, but I just don’t think it will be by more than nine points. They haven’t faced a lot of great defenses this year, but when they have, they’ve struggled to put up points. LSU held the Dawgs to 16 points, and the only reason UGA managed 36 points on Florida was because the Gators’ offense turned the ball over a lot and gave the Bulldogs a short field. I think this is a low-scoring affair, and I see UGA winning something like 21-13 or 17-10.
Georgia is going to beat Kentucky by 14 or more. Honestly, I want to say Georgia wins by 20 or more, but the Wildcats defense should be able to keep Mark Stoops’ team in the game while the offense sputters in the first half. I have zero faith Kentucky’s offense – led by Terry Wilson at quarterback – can move the ball against a stout Georgia defense. Dawgs pull away late and slap Big Blue Nation back into reality.