It wasn’t the prettiest win by any stretch of the imagination. Tennessee football beat what may be the worst team in FBS play Thursday, shutting down the Bowling Green Falcons 38-6 to win their first game of the Josh Heupel era. There were lots of mistakes and miscues, but there were also some solid performances and great plays.
As we get set to break down the players who had the best performances, it’s important to note that the Vols’ standout players really benefitted from BGSU’s serious deficiencies. We can’t stress enough just how bad this team is.
However, when you give out helmet stickers, you still have to give credit to the players responsible for the win, and we’re going to do that here. Some of these players made mistakes, but all of them contributed in a huge way. These were the five best performers in Tennessee football’s blowout win to open the 2021 season.
11-of-23 for 140 yards; 14 carries for 44 yards; 3 total TDs
Yes, Joe Milton III missed what should have been two touchdown passes to Cedric Tillman. He overthrew Tillman both times and completed 47.8 percent of his passes while averaging just over six yards an attempt. He also lost a fumble. That wouldn’t seem to validate Josh Heupel’s decision to start him over Harrison Bailey and Virginia Tech Hokies graduate transfer Hendon Hooker.
Milton didn’t throw any picks, though, and he did find Tillman once on a 40-yard touchdown bomb. Also, he had 44 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground. As a result, he has to make this list, as he accounted for three touchdowns.
Tillman, with two catches for 48 yards and a TD, and Hyatt, with four catches for 62 yards, could have made the list. If Milton had hit Tillman on those two scores, his stats would have been better, and Tillman might have made it. It would have been even more impressive if Hyatt didn’t drop a key third down pass. Either way, Milton was one of Tennessee football’s key players Thursday.