Tennessee football is still looking for its first conference win of the season. The Vols have not quite had the season they were preparing for after a top 15 recruiting class and year two of the Pruitt era.
However, Tennessee has a chance to turn the tides when it hosts Mississippi State Saturday. The Bulldogs, although 3-2 instead of Tennessee’s paltry 1-4, are also looking a bit lackluster in year two of Joe Moorhead as head coach.
Before the start of the season, Vols’ All-American cornerback Bryce Thompson was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic assault charge. Thompson was back on the field against the Gators.
This week, linebacker Jeremy Banks received his dismissal from the team after two negative videos surfaced. And those are just off-the-field issues.
For the season opener, Tennessee fell at home to Georgia State and lost to BYU just one week later. In fact, its only win this season is over FCS opponent Chattanooga. A pair of near-30-point losses to Florida and Georgia round out the four losses.
Mississippi State’s 2019 defense is a far cry from 2018’s top three national defense. This year, the Bulldogs are 82nd in the country after playing only one top 10 team in Auburn. Mississippi State fell to Auburn (5-1) 56-23. And as all Gators fans know, the Tigers’ offense can be shut down.
As far as the Bulldogs trying to stop Tennessee’s offense, there is not too much to stop. The Vols are averaging 23 points per game, which skews to the right after a 45-point outing against Chattanooga. Tennessee scored just a field goal against Florida and two touchdowns against Georgia. The two touchdowns are not so bad until you realize both happened before halftime, and the Vols offense did not score again and their defense allowed 17 points.
Mississippi State’s offense has been a quarterback carousel. One week Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens starts. The next week, true freshman Garrett Schrader is trotted out under center. Even this week, head coach Joe Moorhead is being quiet about who will start.
Tennessee’s Brian Maurer (an Ocala native) will start against the Bulldogs, Pruitt announced. Maurer unseated incumbent Jarrett Guarantano in Gainesville.
Each of these two teams is looking for redemption after a slow start. While Mississippi State looks like the better team on paper, the Volunteers could be itching hard enough for their first conference win.
Kickoff is set for noon Saturday on SEC Network.