KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Vols remain hot in the first quarter after back-to-back 28-point outbursts, but they’re in for an offensive duel Saturday against Ole Miss.
Tennessee’s defense has been good at making momentum-changing plays as it’s ranked third in the nation in tackles for loss. The Tim Banks-led defense will have their hands full with the No. 13 Rebels and Heisman-hopeful quarterback Matt Corral who’s playing some of his best ball.
Corral has thrown a touchdown in 17-straight games and has completed 69% of his passes this season, without a single interception. He’s also racked up 255 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Containing Corral and making him uncomfortable in the pocket will be critical for the Vols to slow the Rebels’ offense down.
“I think there was a play we watched versus Arkansas where he runs through an arm tackle of one of Arkansas’ better defenders,” said linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary of Corral. “It tells you about his athleticism and is super impressive throwing the ball. So we know we have our work cut out for us.”
Both Tennessee and Ole Miss play fast, Lane Kiffin’s Rebels rank second in offensive plays per minute, 2.89, while the Vols rank right behind them in third, 2.87.
While practicing against an up-tempo offense could be an advantage for the Vols defense preparing for Ole Miss, Jean-Mary noted it’s always a different animal when facing it in a game.
Kiffin returns to Rocky Top
Saturday will mark the return of Lane Kiffin who was head coach at Tennessee in 2009 before he split to Southern Cal after that season.
“There are two things here,” Kiffin said. “One, that’s a long time ago. Two, we’ve done this thing since USC, we’ve gone and played against USC. I’ve played against Tennessee. I’ve played against Alabama, so it’s not like all of the sudden you’re going back to a place you used to coach to.”
Kiffin adds that his favorite house he’s ever lived in was in Knoxville.