They lost in a 63-38 blowout, but it’s not like Tennessee football didn’t generate lots of big plays throughout the game. Remember, the Vols trailed 35-31 in the second half at one point, and the offense was doing it’s best to keep pace with the South Carolina Gamecocks. The problem was how horrendous the defense played.
Still, if you can stomach it, the offensive players who came through in big moments deserve a shoutout. From Hendon Hooker before he got hurt to Jabari Small to Princeton Fant to Cedric Tillman to Bru McCoy, lots of guys fought to make this a game. All of those guys came through on key touchdowns.
Although the offense could’ve been more efficient at times, it’s not their fault the game got out of hand. That is solely on the defense. Let’s take a look at some of the notable offensive plays as they fought to keep the Vols competitive. Here are highlights from Tennessee football’s loss.
Jabari Small 31-yard touchdown run
Cedric Tillman 4th and goal 3-yard touchdown reception
Bru McCoy catches tipped pass for 7-yard touchdown reception
Hendon Hooker 41-yard touchdown pass to Princeton Fant
Joe Milton III 21-yard touchdown pass to Cedric Tillman
There were some other plays that didn’t make the list, including two beautiful Joe Milton III completions when he came into the game, and a couple of nice passes by Hooker over the middle to Ramel Keyton, who always seems to come through when he is most needed. Simply put, the skill players fought their guts out.
Of course, South Carolina managed to come up with more highlights, as Spencer Rattler had his way with the Vols’ defense. They were humiliated in inexcusable fashion, and every mild concern surrounding that side of the ball throughout the year was just put on steroids in an insane way.
At least two games remain on Tennessee football’s schedule, and a New Years Six bowl is still a strong possibility. As a result, the Vols shouldn’t give up on an overachieving season filled with highlights just yet, but this was one of the worst gut punches in program history.