KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee probably needs to run the football effectively to beat Missouri on Saturday.
The Vols (4-5, 0-4 SEC) are a 10-point underdog to the Tigers (4-5, 1-4) in Saturday night’s 7:30 p.m. ET game at Faurot Field in Columbia.
Missouri runs a “warp speed” offense, according to Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, and the Tigers lead the SEC in total offense.
The best defense would be an offense that can stay on the field and keep the nation’s touchdown-pass leader — Missouri QB Drew Lock — on the sidelines.
Coach Butch Jones said Tennessee starting QB Jarrett Guarantano is “probable” to play against Missouri after sustaining an ankle injury and leaving Saturday night’s 24-10 homecoming win over Southern Miss at halftime.
But if Guarantano isn’t healthy enough to be effective executing the Vols’ RPO (run-pass option) package, Jones could turn to true freshman Will McBride once again.
“All along we’ve expected Will McBride would have to play at some point and time with Quinten Dormady’s [shoulder] surgery,” Jones said, “so we’ve worked with him in meetings, understanding there’s a lot of football left.”
McBride proved his poise coming off the bench and running the offense against the Golden Eagles, and he also showed he’s an effective runner.
“That’s what everybody on this team expected, because since the day he walked in, he had ice in his veins,” Tennessee senior tight end Ethan Wolf said. “We call him ‘Will the Thrill,’ and he does it in practice, so we don’t expect any less in the games.”
McBride, from League City, Texas, originally committed to SMU before flipping to Memphis his junior year.
Last January, Tennessee convinced McBride to come to Knoxville, and he was enrolled last January for the spring semester after graduating high school early.
A fourth-stringer at the start of spring drills, McBride has kept his nose down and kept grinding, preparing for his opportunity to get to play for the Vols.
SEC Country’s Mike Griffith and WNML’s Josh Ward discuss keys to Tennessee’s game at Missouri in today’s podcast.
Tennessee Football Podcast