Tennessee football lost its first game of the Jeremy Pruitt era 40-14 to the West Virginia Mountaineers. Here are key moments from the Volunteers’ loss.
It was a brutal opener for Jeremy Pruitt and Tennessee football. The Vols gave fans false hope in the first half after showing some life and falling behind 13-7. But the second half became disastrous, as WVU dominated all night.
There was a weather delay at halftime that really slowed things down. On top of that, Ty Chandler went out with an injury. But if you watched the game, it was clear that those things had nothing to do with UT’s struggles.
The Vols were just not able to adjust to their new systems on both sides of the ball while facing a system like West Virginia’s. The second half showed that. Here are key moments that dictated the flow and the outcome of the game.
1. Jarrett Guarantano hit for loss loss on opening play
This set the tone for the game. It was clear that Tennessee football’s offensive line had not adjusted to the pro-style. On top of that, the one guy experienced in a pro-style, Brandon Kennedy, struggled badly at center. Here, Guarantano was hit before he could hand the ball off. The result was an early stop by WVU that set the tone for the game. After forcing this three-and-out, it was clear the UT offense wouldn’t have the field day everybody thought it would.
2. West Virginia stops on Madre London on their 40 in the second quarter
This was critical. The Vols appeared to get a bit of momentum. They had cut WVU’s 10-0 lead to 10-7 with their own touchdown on a fourth down play. Then they got the ball back and drove to the West Virginia 40. That’s when the Mountaineers held firm in the run game. It was 2nd and 3 there, and WVU stopped Madre London twice to force a punt. That was huge, as they totally took the momentum away that UT might have had.
3. Will Grier converts third down pass to Marcus Simms early in the third
This was really what helped to break the game open. Down only 13-7 early in the second half, Tennessee football was looking to get the ball back. They had gotten a big play on a first down to force a 2nd and 15. But after a Martell Pettaway eight-yard run, Grier converted with Simms for a 32-yard gain on third down. The next play was a touchdown, but this was the play that took the life out of the Vols. At this point, WVU took a crucial 20-7 lead.
4. West Virginia scores a late third quarter touchdown to take control
WVU scored another touchdown to go up 27-7, but Tennessee football countered to make it 27-14. As a result, the Vols still had hope. However, a late third-quarter WVU drive got them to the red zone. Still, on third down, UT was looking for a stop. That would have kept the game at two scores. However, West Virginia got a touchdown on third down to go up by three scores, 33-14.
5. Tennessee football falls short on fourth down in the red zone
The Vols provided false hope of a legendary comeback after forcing a fourth quarter fumble, the only turnover in the game. At that point, Jarrett Guarantano drove the offense to inside the five-yard line. They couldn’t convert after that. West Virginia stopped UT’s offense on fourth down to get the ball back late in the fourth with a 33-14 lead. They scored another touchdown, but it was this play that showed they were going to walk away with an easy win in Charlotte.