Nearly one year after the infamous Tennessee Hail Mary win over Georgia last season, the Vols lost in dramatic fashion on a last second heave from the Gators on Saturday. There were plenty of mishaps in the sloppy loss, but there were a few bright spots for Tennessee. Here are the Vols that earned helmet stickers from their 26-20 loss in the swamp.
1. John Kelly, running back
Kelly was the most impressive player on the field last night, tallying 237 total yards against the stout Florida defense. Over half of the Volunteers’ total yards on offense were courtesy of Kelly, as he averaged over seven yards-per-play. The junior out of Detroit set a career high in rushing-and-receiving yards on Saturday, and has officially set himself apart as one of the best running backs in the SEC. Through three weeks, Kelly leads the SEC in rushing yards (349), and is tied for first in rushing touchdowns (5).
2. Rashaan Gaulden, defensive back
Gaulden was the most efficient player for Tennessee on defense with 10 total tackles (five solo) and a defended pass. The redshirt-junior’s interception helped set up the Vols final possession that led to a game-tying score. Gaulden had the first interception for Tennessee this season and was the biggest playmaker on the field for Tennessee.
3. Ethan Wolf, tight end
With three catches for 37 yards and a touchdown, Wolf’s stats were not overly-impressive. However, he did make history. Wolf passed Tennessee great Jason Witten as the program’s all-time receiving tight end in terms of receiving yards on Saturday afternoon. While he has only been targeted seven times this season, he is still viewed as one of Tennessee’s most consistent pass catchers.
4. Tennessee defensive line
This was the first game this season that Tennessee received consistent pressure in the backfield from its defensive line. Jonathan Kongbo and Darrell Taylor were wreaking havoc off the edge, as they combined for nine tackles and a sack. The Vols’ defensive line looked promising against its first traditional offense. For the first time this season they were able to get consistent pressure on the quarterback, which is something that Butch Jones has harped over the past few weeks.
5. Tennessee defense
After being gouged by Georgia Tech and looking iffy against Indiana State, the Vols defense certainly looked better in Gainesville. Tennessee created three turnovers including one interception and two fumbles against the Gators. The last time the Vols created more than three turnovers on defense was against Missouri last season. By no means was the Tennessee defense flawless in its loss to Florida, but some improvement was seen.
Feature image courtesy of UT Sports
Edited by Ben McKee