3. The Return of Marcus Lattimore
Lattimore is reportedly going to be back to 100% and ready to rumble this weekend. That's good news for Carolina. I would expect that we'll see Lattimore play an especially prominent role in the passing game--see below.
2. UT Injuries / Youth
As with the offense, UT is playing a lot of underclassmen on defense as a result of a rash of injuries and a shallow depth chart. Several key players have been lost over the course of the season, and a couple of names to keep your ears peeled about this week are NT Montori Hughes and CB Marsalis Teague. Hughes is questionable and Teague is doubtful for this weekend.
Looking at the Vols injury report, it's really less and less of a surprise to me that UT has struggled so much. They had the deck stacked against them from the beginning, and Lady Luck has been more and more unkind to them as the year has progressed.
1. Air Raid in the Making?
A quick look at the stats shows that Tennessee has a very vulnerable pass defense. That spells good news for a Carolina team that is beginning to pass the ball quite well as of late. Stephen Garcia continues to have one of the best passer efficiencies in the nation, and while he still misses the occasional deep ball, he's hit enough of them to force defenses to respect his arm. What should perhaps really make Carolina fans lick their chops for a Garcia / Alshon Jeffery highlight-reel game Saturday is Tennessee's sack numbers. Carolina's passing game has always been vulnerable to a strong pass rush while Garcia has been at the helm, but suffice it to say that this isn't the Vols defensive line of yesteryear--UT is 106th in the nation in sacks, averaging just over one per game. When given sufficient time to find his targets, Garcia is generally on the money, and that should be the case Saturday.
I haven't watched the Vols much this year, but I did watch Jarrett Lee and LSU carve the Vols up through the air. That should tell you something.