Tennessee vs Georgia Tech preview

Photo by Brad Blackwelder

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-3) is coming off an embarrassing loss on Friday to Grambling State, and will try to bounce back at home against the promising Tennessee Volunteers (5-1). The Yellow Jackets are concluding a six-game homestand, having played three games last week and three games this week. Georgia Tech’s next road game will come on Wednesday at Wofford.

The Volunteers are coming off a home win against Mercer on Wednesday. Tennessee’s only loss came from No. 5 Villanova. The Vols were projected to finish 13th in the SEC but are starting to turn some heads with its play from Grant Williams, who is averaging 16.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Tennessee also has a bevy of great guards in Jordan Bone, James Daniel, and Jordan Bowden. The Vols play has been nothing but dominant, and have found a spark in their solid defense. Tennessee will cruise into Atlanta as four-point favorites.

This is going to be a big early-season challenge for Georgia Tech. The Jackets have had an interesting start to their season after two losses to UCLA and Grambling State. Yellow Jackets center Ben Lammers is averaging 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocks-per-game. Jose Alvarado has also been very important to the Yellow Jackets by averaging 14 points and showing great leadership in the back court. Tadric Jackson completes Georgia Tech’s backcourt duo with 14 points-per-game as well.

Shembari Phillips, who is a guard sitting out the season for the Yellow Jackets after transferring from Tennessee, had a standout game for the Vols in last year’s meeting with Georgia Tech, with 14 points, seven assists and just one turnover .The Yellow Jackets have been playing great defense, allowing just 59 points-per-game, which is 13th in the country.  With Tennessee scoring 79 points-per-game, it could be a close matchup.

Edited by Seth Raborn

Photo courtesy of UT Sports 

Helmet Stickers from Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt

Interim head coach Brady Hoke and the Tennessee Volunteers dropped their last game of the season on Saturday to the Vanderbilt Commodores in Neyland Stadium. With the loss, the Volunteers logged their first 8-loss season in program history.

Here is who earned helmet stickers in Tennessee’s final game of the 2017 season.

Jarrett Guarantano

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano completed 14 passes out of 22 attempts for 183 yards and two touchdowns against Vanderbilt on Saturday.  On the opening drive for the Vols, Guarantano led the offense to a 85-yard touchdown drive, finding receiver Marquez Callaway in the left corner of the end zone for the first score of the game. Later in the second half, Guarantano was able to find tight end Ethan Wolf for a 20-yard touchdown to cut the Vanderbilt lead to 42-24.

Brandon Johnson

Wide Receiver Brandon Johnson ended the game with six receptions for 107 yards. Aside from not scoring a touchdown, Johnson led the Vols in receiving and also averaged 17 yards-per-reception. He also hauled in a big 32-yard completion on the sidelines on a third and long play late in the first half.

Daniel Bituli

The Tennessee defense racked up a total of 78 tackles and twelve of them were courtesy of sophomore linebacker Daniel Bituli. Bituli showed a lot of fight although still being down late in the game. Bituli is a very smart, young player for the Vols defense and really showed up this season when depended on. His play was substantial this season at middle linebacker, and he will surely be a staple in the Tennessee defense for years to come.

Marquez Callaway

Sophomore receiver Marquez Callaway racked up three catches for 16 yards and one touchdown. Callaway’s score came in the first offensive possession for Tennessee. It was third-and-goal from the 2-yard line when Jarrett Guarantano floated one in the left corner of the end zone to Callaway, who then makes an incredible one handed catch while falling backwards for the touchdown.

Micah Abernathy

Junior safety Micah Abernathy is a vocal leader for the Tennessee defense and was also the second leading tackler for the Vols against the Commodores, picking up 11 tackles while also interrupting a handful of passes thrown his way.  Abernathy will be a pivotal part of the Tennessee defense next season.

Edited by Seth Raborn

Featured image courtesy of UT Sports

Previewing the LSU Tigers

After the firing of Butch Jones, Tennessee now turns its attention to No. 20 LSU.  This will be the first time the two teams have faced each other since 2011, a game in which the Vols won 38-7.  The Tigers are fresh off a 33-10 victory over SEC West rival Arkansas.  LSU currently sits 4-2 in SEC play with its only two losses coming to No. 1 Alabama and No. 16 Mississippi State.

LSU is coached by Ed Orgeron, who is in his first full season as head coach of the Tigers, although he was interim head coach at the end of the season last year.  However, Orgeron has plenty of coaching experience, having been head coach at Ole Miss, as well as an interim head coach at USC.  He is no stranger to Knoxville, as he was on the staff of Lane Kiffin during the 2009 season as a recruiting coordinator, associate head coach, and defensive line coach.  He left after the 2009 season to join Kiffin’s USC staff.  Orgeron also had a stint in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints as their defensive line coach.

LSU is led offensively by quarterback Danny Etling, who is a transfer from Purdue.  Etling is in his second season as the starting quarterback for the Tigers, and has emerged as one of the top signal-callers in the SEC.  This season, Etling has thrown 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions.  This Saturday will be the 21st straight game he has started at quarterback for the Tigers.

Etling’s favorite target is wide receiver D.J. Chark, who leads the team with 29 receptions for 718 yards on the year.  Chark had his best game of the season in an earlier victory over Auburn, where he grabbed five receptions for 150 yards.

Derrius Guice is the leader of the LSU ground game, as he comes in averaging almost six yards a carry. He also has nine touchdowns on the year, and closing in on another 1,000 yard season.  Last week was one of his best games as he amassed 147 yards on 21 carries, and three touchdowns.  The junior from Baton Rouge was one of the most sought after players in the country when he came out of high school in 2015.

A nice compliment to Guice in the backfield is senior Darrel Williams. Williams has rushed for 602 yards and six touchdowns on the year for the Tigers. Williams and Guice are one of the best one-two punches in the SEC, as well as the country.  When Guice needs a rest, the Tigers don’t miss a beat.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers depend on linebacker Devin White, one of the league’s top defenders.  White had 14 tackles in last week’s game, and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for the third time this season.  He had his sixth double-digit tackle game, and leads the conference with 103 tackles, with over 10 tackles per game.  White is viewed as a strong NFL prospect in the future.  His production in only his sophomore year is very promising for LSU.

The Tigers rank second in the league in total sacks.  They are led in that category by defensive end Christian LaCouture, nose tackle Greg Gilmore, and outside linebacker Corey Thompson.

LSU is already bowl eligible, but they would love to add to its win total this week with a win over Tennessee, and improve its chances at a major bowl game.  They make it clear that they are not taking the Vols’ struggles for granted.  LSU understands the situation that Tennessee is facing all too well, because last year they dealt with the same issue when former LSU coach Les Miles was fired.

Featured image courtesy of LSU Athletics

Edited by Seth Raborn

Tennessee falls to Missouri 50-17

After Tennessee’s loss to Kentucky two weeks ago in Lexington, the Vols fell to 0-5 in SEC play. Dating back to last season, the Vols have lost six straight SEC games. Their last conference win came against Missouri on Nov. 19, 2016, making it nearly a full year since the Vols last conference win. The trend continued on Saturday night as Tennessee fell to Missouri 50-17.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano didn’t play due to a lower injury, meaning it was time for true freshman quarterback Will McBride’s first career start. Along with Guarantano being out, two offensive lineman were also out as Brett Kendrick and Drew Richmond didn’t play due to concussions. Marquez Callaway also didn’t play due to injury.

In the first half, McBride and the Vols offense showed signs of explosiveness.  The true freshman rushed for 25 yards on eight carries. A couple of plays showed McBride’s dual-threat tendencies and his ability to read defenses. One play that stood out from McBride’s play in the first half was a third-and-goal play on the Missouri 19-yard line. Right after John Kelly was flagged for a personal foul penalty, Tennessee had one play to get into the end zone right before half or they would have to settle for a field goal.  McBride showed great patience and poise by letting his receivers routes develop before tossing a beautiful ball to tight end Ethan Wolf while being hit to tie the score at 17 going onto half.

After the Volunteers tied the game at 17, Missouri running back Larry Roundtree III quickly ended Tennessee’s momentum by breaking off a 64-yard touchdown run, putting Missouri up 24-17.

However, the Vols defense did not help the offense in the slightest. The Tennessee defense allowed over 300 yards of total offense in the first half, including over 200 yards on the ground. All 23 of the Tigers run plays resulted in positive yardage. The Vols managed to limit the Missouri passing game in the first half, holding quarterback Drew Lock to under 100 yards passing, one touchdown, and one interception.

Tennessee started the second half off with a 43-yard read option by McBride, which was the only spark the Vols had the rest of the night. Missouri’s first possession of the second half led to a 50-yard touchdown pass from Lock to wide receiver Emmanuel Hall, increasing the Tigers lead to 31-17.  Late in the third quarter, Tennessee center Coleman Thomas left the game due to injury, which left the Vols with only six scholarship offensive linemen.

Missouri continued to dominate by racking up over 400 yards of total offense as Lock found J’mon Moore for a 23-yard touchdown that would put the Tigers up 38-17.  McBride then threw his first career interception on the very next drive which led to a Missouri field goal. The Tigers had their second-string in by the third quarter and finished Butch Jones and the Vols off 50-17.

Featured image courtesy of UT Sports 

Edited by Seth Raborn