3. Defense relied on big plays in the first half to take the lead.
As mentioned, UT-Martin has a good pass offense, and Tennessee football’s banged up secondary suffered against them. Dresser Winn led the Skyhawks on a touchdown drive on their second possession to tie it up, and he was driving again on their third possession to potentially tie it up again. He did have 145 passing yards in the first half.
However, in spite of those defensive woes, the Vols made the big plays when they needed. On that third possession, William Wright had an epic jump on a pass to come away with an interception. Later, with the Vols up 24-7, Sam Franklin had a fumble on a first down play, which the Vols recovered, so turnovers contributed to two UT stops.
Then there were the big tackles for a loss that contributed to UT-Martin playing so poorly on third down. Heck, that first interception came after Franklin was tackled for a three-yard loss. On the next drive, UT-Martin head coach Jason Simpson curiously tried a reverse trick play, resulting in a nine-yard loss.
After the fumble recovery, Solon Page III had a sack on the next drive, causing another nine-yard loss. That means two turnovers, a huge tackle for a loss and a sack stalled four straight UT-Martin drives. By the time those ended, the Vols were up 38-7, so it doesn’t matter that they gave up 316 yards through the air on the day.