Image via Knights SportsEach week, I will sit down with the Knights Sports Productions individual who is responsible for covering the opponent of the Buccaneers. This week, KSP Tennessee Titans insider Troy Odegaard gives his perspective on the game.

LH:Troy, Tennessee didn’t need a quarterback in the 2015 draft. It wasn’t one of their major needs. Marcus Mariota ended up in Tennessee with the 2nd overall pick anyway. Is he a special player?

TO:I think he will be. Right now, I’m of the opinion that he needs to learn some things. I Iike what I see when he’s working out of the shotgun but I also like what I see when he’s working under center. What almost every expert was saying about him was the same thing and that was can he play quarterback in the NFL under center. I watch him in the preseason and it’s obvious that Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt has been working with him on that. I thought his footwork was really good. I thought his working through progressions was nice. Let’s have this conversation again in three I years. I do think he’s going to be a pretty decent football player by then.

LH:If you look at Tennessee, it looks like they’re trying to mold their offense around Mariota and not trying to fit him into their scheme. Is that a fair assessment?

TO:I would agree with that to a point. The scheme that Whisenhunt brought with him from Arizona is one that Marcus can adapt easily. It’s a system that Kurt Warner played. He worked from both the shotgun and under center and took the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. Kurt could do both. It’s not like they’re tying him to a system. It’s more about two things. One, getting him comfortable with this system. Two, let’s find five guys we can put in front of him to protect him. The big difference between what Warner had in Arizona and what Mariota has at Tennessee is a running game. When that happens, that will greatly help Marcus in his development.

LH:How important is the fact that Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh when Ben Roethlisberger was a rookie when it comes to giving Mariota plays and situations he can handle?

TO:It’s huge. He’s not going to put Marcus is a situation where he has to win football games. He knows the things you and I know when it comes to winning football games. One, win the battle of the line of scrimmage. Two, defense wins games. Three, the way your offense wins championships is not turning the football over. As Mariota becomes more seasoned, I think your going to see the playbook open up more as you saw with Roethlisberger.

LH:It looks like the Bucs are in a dilemma. The secondary for Tennessee had been decimated by injuries so that’s the obvious area you want to exploit. Do you want to see your rookie QB in his first NFL game throw it 30 to 40 times?

TO:I don’t think there’s ever a time you want to see a rookie quarterback put it up 30 to 35 times and expect to win. The Titans secondary may be decimated but the backups are NFL caliber players. They’re not college backups. Bottom line is, if you throw the football, three things can happen and two are bad. I know this is ancient Woody Hayes thinking but it still prevails today. I think Whisenhunt and Lovie Smith will have the exact same game plan for their rookie quarterbacks. That is run the football, control the line of scrimmage and don’t turn it over.

LH:What’s the keys for Tennessee to win?

TO:Defensively, they need to make Tampa Bay one-dimensional. They want to take away the run no matter how banged up their secondary happens to be. If they can’t, it’s going to be a long afternoon for the Titans. Offensively, don’t turn the ball over. Be able to effectively run the football.

LH:Let’s get to the big question. I think the Bucs win a close one because they’re at home and can run the football better than the Titans. Who wins and why?

TO:I think Tennessee wins by three and here’s why. I think Marcus has a little bit of an advantage over Jameis. There is so much more pressure on Jameis to play better than Marcus because Bucs are at home. If Tennessee loses they lost a road game not a home game. More pressure on Winston to play better. In the end, I think Marcus has a nice day and ends up with a win.