In advance of this weekend’s season-opener, Saturday Down South’s Jason Hall breaks down the scouting report for Tennessee’s showdown against Utah State

Utah State Aggies at Tennessee Volunteers
(4 PM ET, SEC Network)

THE SKINNY: Tennessee is coming off its fourth-consecutive losing season with a 5-7 (2-6) record. Butch Jones enters his second season as the Volunteers’ head coach and is looking to continue his “brick by brick” rebuilding process with an improved record. Despite a disappointing season on the field, Jones and his staff managed to bring in a top-5 2014 recruiting class, with many players assumed to see early playing time. Utah State is coming off a 9-5 (7-1) season and fell 24-17 to Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship game. Tennessee fans shouldn’t take Utah State lightly, as the Aggies have plenty of talent on both sides of the football.

KEY PLAYER: Starting quarterback Justin Worley needs to have a big game. The senior was named Tennessee’s opening day starter for the second consecutive year after leaving some fans wanting more. Worley struggled at times, but was the Vols’ best passing option when healthy and showed signs of improvement leading up to a season-ending thumb injury. He will have the benefit of an improved wide receiving corps that will match up against a Utah State pass defense that returning one previous starter.

WHAT TO WATCH: Tennessee’s recruiting class is talented but lacks experience. The Vols will likely rely heavily on their biggest recruits this season and should have several players see the field in the opening game. Top prospect Jalen Hurd is currently listed as the second-string running back behind senior Marlin Lane. He is expected to start the season splitting the carries with Lane, but could be the breakout star. It will be interesting to see how many touches he gets on Sunday.

FINAL SAY: Tennessee should win this game, but will be challenged by dual-quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Keeton will relish at the opportunity to showcase why he’s received so much preseason hype against an SEC team in a nationally televised game. There is definitely a chance that Utah State could surprise the Vols on Sunday. However, Tennessee’s talent and speed will ultimately outweigh Utah State’s and the Vols should avoid the upset.