Tennessee football Smokey points: Top 5 Vols performers vs. ETSU Bucs

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 08: Darrin Kirkland Jr. #34 of the Tennessee Volunteers returns an interception for a touchdown during a game against the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers at Neyland Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennesee won the game 59-3. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 08: Darrin Kirkland Jr. #34 of the Tennessee Volunteers returns an interception for a touchdown during a game against the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers at Neyland Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennesee won the game 59-3. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images) /
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Tennessee football’s 59-3 win over the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers warranted many helmet stickers. Here are the top five Volunteers players.

There’s not much to be impressed about when it comes to beating an FCS program that was nonexistent three years ago, but it is the first win of the 2018 Tennessee football season. And it was the first win of the Jeremy Pruitt era.

The Vols are now 1-1, and quite a few players deserve credit for the game on Saturday. Despite struggling and only up 10-0 heading into a weather delay, a series of big plays helped this team break the game open in the second half.

As we give out our Smokey points for Saturday’s game, it’s worth noting that defense was the dominant force in Tennessee football’s win. The offense still has a few issues, but the Vols came up with big play after big play on defense.

And to give a bit of credit to this team, they did do it against an FBS quarterback. As a result, even though this win was against an FCS team, there is a bit of legitimate credit to give out. And we’re going to do our best on that here.

Not too many players had a real stat line that stood out. After all, Jeremy Pruitt spread the wealth in this game to get lots of guys some experience. So the real players in this game were the ones to break things open and give the Vols breathing room. A couple did earn recognition, though, for their overall play throughout the day.

So who were the standout guys Saturday? Where should our helmet stickers go? Let’s break them down here. These are our top five Tennessee football players from the Vols’ 59-3 win over the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers.