Tennessee football is 1-1 on the season after a dominating 59-3 win vs. East Tennessee State Buccaneers. Here are five takeaways from the Volunteers’ win.
Finally, the Tennessee football got their first win on the season. In dominating fashion, Jeremy Pruitt’s defense was the difference in the game.
They forced two interceptions. One was a pick-six by linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. And, the other, was from freshman defensive back, Bryce Thompson. It could have been two interceptions returned for a touchdown, but Thompson stepped out at the three-yard line.
The Vols move to 1-0 on the season with a game with UTEP on September 15. Realistically, Tennessee should head in Florida weekend 2-1 and looking to start the SEC schedule off right.
So let’s break down exactly how everything went. Here are five takeaways from Tennessee football’s blowout win against ETSU.
1. Running back by committee
Tennessee was without running back Ty Chandler again as he is still nursing an injury that sidelined him against West Virginia. But, that didn’t slow down the Volunteers’ rushing attack.
Two different running backs scored a touchdown, as well as Josh Palmer on an end around that, went for 20 yards. Freshman running back Jeremy Banks rushed 13 times for 62 yards and two touchdowns.
Grad Transfer Madre London had eight carries for 47 yards with two touchdowns.
Starting back, Tim Jordan ran hard with 65 yards on 15 carries but failed to get in the end zone.
2. Callaway does it again
Marquez Callaway led both teams in receptions again. Callaway had five receptions for 78 yards. Here didn’t score a touchdown but he looked impressive all game.
Callaway already has 12 receptions this season which is half as many as he had all of last year. He has a total of 163 receiving yards on the season, which puts him well ahead of last season’s pace.
The Vols are going to need Callaway to continue this type of production to have a chance in the SEC. If only they could find a way to get him in the end zone, Callaway would be having an All-SEC type of season that we predicted a long time ago.
3. Gooden was a beast
Finally, the defensive line got a push. Against West Virginia, a lot of stuff went wrong for the defense. The secondary was not good, at all. However, the defensive line wasn’t getting much of a push.
I know it was just ETSU but Gooden did a good job plugging the holes and making it hard for the Buccaneers rushing attack to get going.
This is the type of production Vol nation was expecting from Gooden, and it was nice to see him get going if you’re Jeremy Pruitt.
4. Defense was great
When was the last time the Vols gave up three points or less? It was back in the 2016 season against Tennessee Tech when Butch and the Vols won 55-0.
Along with the almost shutout, the Vols defense made it hard for Logan Marchi all game long. Marchi had a QBR of 50.2 as he completed only 11-for-26 of his passes. Oh, and the defense caused two interceptions. Marchi went without throwing a touchdown. Clearly, he wasn’t ready for an SEC caliber defense.
5. Special teams were all around special
Sometimes special teams help you win games, and sometimes they can be the deciding factor in losing. In today’s game, the Vols didn’t necessarily need a strong special teams performance to win, but that’s what they got.
Brent Cimalia made the only field goal that he attempted. It was just a 26-yard try, but the good news for Vols fans is that it went in.
New punter Joe Doyle is no Trevor Daniel. However, he punted really well against ETSU. He had four punts for 171 yards when two downed inside the 20-yard line.
A blocked punt by Marquill Osborne late in the first quarter was Tennessee’s first touchdown of the 2018 football season. Anytime you can get a touchdown on special teams; you have a leg up on the opponent.
The Vols get on the winning track against ETSU. With the upcoming game on Saturday against UTEP, Tennessee should take a 2-1 record into the Florida weekend. Which is really a game the Vols could win.