Tennessee gains momentum in win over Western Carolina

After a dismal collapse last week against Oklahoma, Tennessee got a much needed blowout win, defeating Western Carolina 55-10.

Photo by Ben Ozburn

Photo by Ben Ozburn

After a dismal collapse last week against Oklahoma, Tennessee got a much needed blowout win, defeating Western Carolina 55-10.

Head coach Butch Jones and the Vols have received a lot of criticism in their passing game, which has looked subpar so far. Tennessee responded Saturday by passing early and often, going to the air four of their first five plays.

“We wanted to get Joshua Dobbs going early,” said Coach Butch Jones. It took the Vols only 1:30 to go 51 yards on five plays to find the end zone on their first drive.

Dobbs had a positive performance at quarterback, going 15-for-21 for 144 yards and two touchdowns. He was taken out at halftime to rest. Dobbs’ understudy, true freshman Quinten Dormady, played well in his reps at quarterback. Dormady threw eight times and had six completions for 93 yards and a touchdown.

“I was really excited to play Dormady,” said Jones. “He has been consistent all year in practice and in meetings.”

Running back Jalen Hurd was also pulled at halftime to rest, finishing with 68 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. He also had two catches for 12 yards and a touchdown. Alvin Kamara also had an impact rushing the ball, carrying it seven times for 47 yards and a touchdown.

The offense looked good overall on Saturday night. They scored all five times they entered the red-zone and capitalized off their opponent’s turnovers, but the unit still needs to improve in some areas. “We need to get better on third down,” said Jones. The Vols converted only five of 14 third down attempts.

Saturday night showcased the youth that will soon turn Tennessee into a top-tier program.

“We played 16 true freshmen tonight,” said Jones. And no one had quite the impact on the game that true freshman Preston Williams did. He had his first three collegiate receptions on Saturday, and led all receivers with 98 yards and two touchdowns. “It was great to see Williams do well tonight,” said Jones.

Western Carolina quarterback Troy Mitchell was collectively considered to be the Catamounts’ best player coming into the game, but he was unable to get anything going on Saturday night.

Mitchell went 6-of-14 through the air for only 47 yards. Running back Detrez Newsome seemed to be the only bright spot for Western Carolina, as he carried the ball 10 times for 128 yards and a touchdown.

Tennessee’s defense allowed only nine first downs and did a good job of getting off the field, allowing only one successful play on 12 third down attempts by the Catamounts. Todd Kelly Jr. continued to show that he’s an up-and-coming star on defense for Tennessee. He and Evan Berry led the defense with five tackles.

A big component of Tennessee’s win over Western Carolina was their special teams play. Punter Trevor Daniel pinned the Catamounts inside their own 20-yard line on all four of his punts, while kick returner Evan Berry returned his only attempt 88 yards in an exciting burst to the end zone.

“I didn’t know where I was on the field at a point during that play,” said Berry. “I just kept moving my feet forward.”

His older brother and former Tennessee star safety, Eric Berry, was in attendance. “He kind of talked some trash to me after the game though,” said [Evan] Berry. “He said if he was on the field he would have caught me.”

Tennessee now enters SEC play and will travel to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators (3-0) Saturday, Sept. 26. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

Featured image by Ben Ozburn

Edited by Cody McClure