June 20, 2024

UMass vs. Tennessee Preview

Tennessee looks to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss in Gainesville, as the Vols look to get back to the basics and bring home another win inside Neyland.

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 01, 2016 - The State of Tennessee and Power T flag come through the "T" before the game between the Appalachian State Mountaineers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Alison P. McNabb Tennessee Athletics

This Saturday, the University of Massachusetts Minutemen look to take on the Tennessee Volunteers for the first time in both of these program’s history. The Minutemen (0-4) have had a rocky start to their season, but the Vols (2-1) should definitely take this game seriously.

After a heartbreaker last week against Florida, the Vols are looking to shake off the emotion from the Swamp and get back to work. Playing Umass might be exactly what the Vols need to build discipline and strengthen both sides of the ball.

Tennessee’s offense put together some great drives last week with help from its leading running back John Kelly. The junior had 19 carries for 141 yards and a touchdown, but that’s not all. Kelly also lead the team in receiving with six Receptions for 96 yards. Tight end Ethan Wolf also left his mark on the game with a great touchdown catch to bring the Vols within three points of the Gators in the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter was the only point of the game where any excitement really flew in Tennessee’s direction because for the first three quarters, the Vols scored just three points and turned the ball over five times. Quarterback Quentin Dormady really struggled against the Gators misfiring on 18 passes and throwing three interceptions, one of which resulted in a touchdown.

Dormady will get another chance this week to let it rip, but it will be interesting to see how many reps backup Jarrett Guarantano will receive. As a redshirt-freshman, Guarantano needs all the experience he can get before Tennessee takes on the likes of Georgia and Alabama.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Vols performed considerably well, holding the Gators to just six points through three quarters. Nigel Warrior and Rashaan Gaulden both had exceptional games despite the Vols secondary giving up 212 passing yards.  Gaulden had five tackles and an interception, while Warrior had  two tackles and a forced fumble.

The defense forced three turnovers to almost propel the Vols to a win over the Gators. In the loss, linebacker Cortez McDowell went down with a wrist injury and will now miss the season. Tennessee will now have to rely on its depth as they look to the likes of Quart’e Sapp and Will Ignont to step up. With five players suffering significant injuries since the start of the season, the Vols need to use this week as an opportunity to get some much needed playing time for the substitutes who are going to be filling in.

The Minutemen were disappointed last week as their game that was scheduled against South Florida was cancelled due to inclement weather brought on by Hurricane Irma. That being said, UMass is hungry for a win. The Minutemen have started the season off with four unsuccessful attempts to win a game, but that’s not to say they haven’t been close. The largest scoring deficient was 10 points, and the Minutemen have shown a decent amount of success on throwing on offense.

Led by quarterback Andrew Ford, the UMass offense has shown some success. Ford has thrown for 1,204 yards on the season and six touchdowns. His favorite target is tight end Adam Breneman and wide receiver Andy Isabella, both of which have accumulated over 300 yards so far. Tennessee’s defense will also have to watch out for running back Marquis Young, who has rushed for four touchdowns on the season with 225 yards.

Keys for Tennessee’s Success:

The Vols will have to keep things tight on both offense and defense. If the Vols defense can shut down the Minutemen’s key players, Tennessee shouldn’t have anything to worry about besides playing smart and capitalizing on third downs.

On the offensive side, Dormady needs to work on his accuracy and footwork when outside of the pocket. His experiences from last week will keep him motivated, and I’m sure Butch Jones will as well. As for the Vols ground game, John Kelly will certainly be able to use his athleticism to take control of this game. As long as the Vols can keep from making mental mistakes, such as jumping offside and staying on blocks, they should be in great shape to chalk up another win.

Keys for Massachusetts’ Success:

Well it seems like a long shot, but if UMass can score early and put pressure on Dormady, then I’d say they have a real fighting chance. The Minutemen also need to capitalize on as many third downs as they can, so they don’t give too many chances for Marquez Callaway to have a successful punt return.

UMass also needs to exploit the substitutions that are taking over this week. If they can find a weak link in the defense, UMass could do some damage. Defensively, the Minuteman are going to have to be solid in the box and in the secondary. They have had two weeks now to watch Tennessee’s film, so they should have at least some idea of how to fight against Larry Scott’s offense.


The Vols are going to score early and often through the first few quarters. Coach Jones is going to run John Kelly through the Massachusetts defense and both quarterbacks are going to get enough chances to run the table. A few hiccups here and there, but this should be a dominant outing. Tennessee will coast through this game, 49-14, over UMass on Saturday.


Edited by Ben McKee