3. There were too many three and outs.
In spite of the big plays Tennessee football was able to generate on offense, the Vols were not the same team that they have been under Josh Heupel. If they weren’t scoring touchdowns, they usually weren’t getting first downs, and that’s the one negative from this game. It’s also one factor that kept Clemson in it.
Rocky Top had six three-and-outs in the game. Part of this was due to Josh Heupel’s unique strategy, as he focused a bit more on keeping the defense honest with the run game early before taking shots late. However, it was still a problem.
This offense is built on being able to score quickly, and if it doesn’t score, it relies on being able to move the ball somewhat to flip field position. That’s crucial because the defense, even if it’s below average, has a better chance when offenses need to run more plays to score.
That didn’t happen in this game, and it’s worthy of criticism. Long-term, it may be fine, as Heupel was running a different system with Milton, but if he sticks to it, he’ll need more from his defense than he got this year. However, he won’t need more than he got in this game, and that leads to our next point on here.