Hey, here’s a positive. Brent Cimaglia made three field goals on three attempts and hit all of his extra points. One of them was from 48 yards. Another gave Tennessee football the lead in the second half and was from 31 yards. So he did his job and then some. Meanwhile, Paxton Brooks was perfect on kickoffs, not allowing any real returns.
Joe Doyle punted once, but it was a 47-yard punt that was pinned inside the 20. So he took a step forward just like Cimaglia. The only reason we did not have this as an A+ is due to the fact that it didn’t go 50-plus yards and pin the Georgia State Panthers inside the 10. It also was a punt that shouldn’t have occurred. But a high 40s and pinned inside the 20 is always the goal.
Return game: B
This unit would have been an A if Marquez Callaway didn’t fumble on a 30-yard return. Now, at least he recovered it. But that knocks it down to a B, particularly because the Vols needed a big return for a touchdown or to set up a field goal given the way the defense and offense were playing. This was the time for a splash play, and it didn’t happen. But it was still above average.
Overall special teams grade: A-
Special teams was clearly not a problem for the Vols in this game. In fact, it could actually be a strength for UT going forward. They may have some serious issues, but in a close game, their kicking and punting may make a difference. It almost did here until the fourth quarter.