Tennessee entered Saturday’s game against Tennessee Tech following an embarrassing loss to South Carolina.
After drama surrounded the program during the week, Tennessee drubbed the Golden Eagles 55-0 in the Vols’ annual homecoming game.
Here are a few takeaways from Saturday’s game against Tennessee Tech.
Tennessee is going to be just fine without Jalen Hurd
With Hurd gone and Alvin Kamara sidelined due to a knee injury, it was time for sophomore John Kelly to step up.
In Kelly’s first career start, he rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. While Kelly only carried the football seven times, he showcased his wide variety of skills. On his 73-yard touchdown run, Kelly showed great vision, patience, burst and the ability to break away from a defense. Kelly runs the football with authority, as if he’s mad at the world and wants to thank everybody who has helped him on his road to success. “Everything I do is for my brothers, and they know that,” Kelly said after the game on Saturday night.
With Kelly playing at a high level, Tennessee could potentially get captain Alvin Kamara back from injury next Saturday against Kentucky. Getting the proven playmaker back out on the gridiron would not only bolster the running back position, but the offense as a whole.
True freshman Carlin Fils-aime rushed for two touchdowns in the win as well, gaining valuable experience and much needed reps. With two proven running backs and a freshman who has shown some promise, Tennessee has plenty of stability going forward.
Tennessee is re-energized
Tennessee’s 55-0 win over Tennessee Tech was the spark the Vols have been desperately vying for over the past month. Sure, it was a win over Tennessee Tech, but the Vols’ last win was over a month ago. After losing three straight and dealing with a star player transferring, the beat down of the Golden Eagles was more than welcomed to everyone associated with the Tennessee football program.
For the first time all season, the Vols got out to a fast start. Players and coaches were focused from the opening kick off as Tennessee spotted an early 21-0 lead. The Golden Eagles never really stood a chance. With Arkansas upsetting No. 11 Florida on Saturday afternoon, the Vols are right back in the thick of things in the SEC East title race. If Tennessee wants to make it to Atlanta, the Vols are going to need the same focus and energy they displayed against Tennessee Tech for the remainder of the season. Butch Jones will be pleased with the amount of high-fiving and chest-bumping going on in Tennessee’s victory when he checks the game tape.
Joshua Dobbs got his work in early on Saturday afternoon and exited the game in the second quarter with a commanding 35-0 lead over Tennessee Tech. Sophomore Quentin Dormady entered the game and carved the Golden Eagle defense up. He went 9-of-13 for 109 yards and averaged 8.4 yards per completion.
Dormady displayed command of the offense by making sure the offense was aligned correctly, showed great leadership, and correctly checked plays according to what the defense was showing. When given the opportunity to throw the football, Dormady’s throws were on time, thrown with power, and thrown to spots that only allowed Tennessee’s receivers to make a play on the ball. If something were to happen to Dobbs and the Vols had to bring Dormady in, Tennessee would have a certain comfort level with its backup that most teams don’t have.
Nigel Warrior is going to be a star
With the Tennessee defensive secondary struggling and injuries striking the safety position, true freshman Nigel Warrior has the opportunity to step in and make plays. Warrior knows what it takes to be successful in Knoxville, as his father, Dale Carter, starred for the Vols in the early 90’s. The former four-star recruit tallied seven tackles. including one for loss in the win. Warrior flew around the field on Saturday, making plays from sideline to sideline while displaying his speed and strength. Tennessee coaches are excited about Warrior’s play going forward, and rightfully so.
Edited by Nathan Odom
Featured image by Hayley Pennesi, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics