Brent Cimaglia made a 26-yard field goal and didn’t miss an extra point. That has to count for something. But Paxton Brooks fits into this grade with kickoffs. To be fair, he did have five touchbacks. But he kicked off 10 times, and one went out of bounds. As a result, we could only give this grade an B.
This was the best part of the day for Tennessee football. Joe Doyle had three punts and averaged 45.7 yards a punt. He had one go for 52 yards and nailed another one inside the 20. Then came Brooks, and he also had a punt. That one went for 34 yards, but it was another one inside the 20. If not for one touchback by Doyle, this grade overall would have been an A. The only negative is that the Vols had to punt four times against an FCS opponent.
Return game: A
The kick return game is all about big plays. And that clearly happened early for Tennessee football. Clinging to a 3-0 lead, the Vols had the play of the game when Marquill Osborne blocked a punt and ran it in for a touchdown. That was vintage Gen. Neyland’s Game Maxim No. 2. Marquez Callaway only had one punt return, and he lost a yard on it, so that’s the negative. And there were no actual kickoff returns. But the blocked punt was enough for this unit to earn an A.
Overall special teams grade: A-
Tennessee football struggled at times on offense. The defense was mediocre up front. But the Vols were nearly perfect on special teams. This unit did a lot to help them break the game open on Saturday, and that’s why we’re giving it an A-.