Tennessee Will Have Both Hands Full With the Oregon Ducks offense

By Zach Virnig
Tennessee Volunteers Football, SEC Football
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Volunteers and Oregon Ducks, could not have scripted a better start to their 2013 seasons, then the ones both have witnessed thus far in the first two weeks. The Volunteers and Ducks ran right over their competition in impressive fashion during Week Two.

Tennessee forced five turnovers, in Saturday’s first quarter facing Western Kentucky. All five turnovers came in 6 plays, the Vols came up with 31 unanswered points due to the costly errors of WKU. Western Kentucky ended the game with seven turnovers, five coming off of interceptions thrown by their quarterback, Justin Doughty.

Tennessee starting cornerbacks Justin Coleman and Cameron Sutton each had interceptions, returned for touchdowns in the 52-20 defeat of the Hilltoppers. Tennessee had 12 interceptions, all of 2012.

Tennessee and Oregon fight to remain undefeated on Saturday. The Volunteers performance over Western Kentucky is very reminiscent to the last meeting the Ducks and Volunteers had back in 2010. Oregon scored 45 unanswered points in the teams first-ever meeting at Neyland Stadium. Just entering the second quarter, the Volunteers had a 13-3 lead, not before Oregon dominated the last three stanzas, winning the game 48-13.

The Volunteers face an even more complicated Oregon offense in week three, then the one they faced that went undefeated in the Pac 12 and the BCS Championship game during the 2010-11 season. Mark Helfrich, at the controls has been nothing less than steady, and the Ducks offense has ideally fed their studs. Through the first two weeks, the Ducks have averaged close to 63 points per game, right at a combined 125 points against both Nicholls State and Virginia. The Ducks went 12-1 last season, ranking second in the nation in points scored per contest, 49.6.

The Ducks scored on their first three possessions in the first quarter at Charlottesville Saturday, a 71-yard touchdown run by quarterback Marcus Mariota, and a pair of touchdown runs from running back De’Anthony Thomas. One came from one yard out and another from 40.

Oregon finished the game with 557 total yards, eight total touchdowns, all but two going through the air. Oregon produced a school-record 772 yards in their season opener against Nicholls State. Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota became the first Ducks quarterback to rush for 100 or more yards in back to back games. As incredible as Mariota had been in Eugene as a freshman, he never amassed 100 passing and rushing yards for a game. Mariota, now as a sophomore, has done just that in consecutive games to start this season. Thomas ran for 124 yards and scored three touchdowns, averaging 11.3 yards a carry against Virginia. The “Black Mamba” is tied with Miami‘s Duke “Storm” Johnson and Baylor‘s Lache Seastrunk for the most rushing touchdowns after two games (five).

The Ducks scoring ability comes in large part from Nick Aliotti and the defense. Oregon’s rapid offense produced touchdowns after four turnovers were created by the defense Saturday. The 28 points created by these turnovers were almost half of Oregon’s offensive capacity against the Cavaliers.

The Ducks continue to be placed No. 2 in both the USA Today Coaches and Associated Press Polls. The Ducks will have all eyes and ears on the biggest game of the year this coming Saturday, when Alabama and Texas A&M entertains the masses of college football fans.

Zach Virnig is a SEC Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZacharyVirnig, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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