The Tennessee Volunteers (4-5, 0-5 SEC) halted a four-game losing streak with a 24-10 win over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (5-4, 3-2 C-USA). Head coach Butch Jones and the Volunteers still seek two more wins to be bowl eligible this season.
Here are the players that deserve helmet stickers in the Vols first win in over a month.
John Kelly, running back
In his first game back from his suspension due to a marijuana citation, Kelly ran with a vengeance. Kelly had 20 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday night. This was the most carries and yards that Kelly has tallied since the UMass game back on Sept. 23. Kelly also averaged four yards-per-carry, which is not too bad considering he was playing behind an injury-ridden offensive line.
Although tackling issues still remain a problem for the linebacker corps, the Vols had an above-average outing on Saturday night. Colton Jumper, per usual, led the linebackers with seven tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss and two quarterback hurries. However, sophomore Quart’e Sapp and Elliot Berry made the most of their reps against Southern Miss. Sapp and Berry combined for 13 tackles on the night. Considering the amount of injuries this group has sustained, they remain solid from week-to-week.
Evan Berry, defensive back/returner
It was easy to see how much Tennessee missed Berry on kickoffs. Berry was named to the 2017 preseason Paul Hornung Award watch list which is awarded to the most versatile player in college football. He also was named as a first-team preseason All-American and first-team All-SEC heading into the 2017 season. Berry setup the Vols offense with two returns for 57 yards on Saturday, and there is surely more where that came from.
Tennessee defensive line
The Volunteers defensive line looked solid through-and-through for the first time all season on Saturday. Defensive ends Darrell Taylor and Kyle Phillips both had fantastic performances with a combined nine tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble. Plus, defensive tackle Shy Tuttle held down the middle with five tackles and 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Overall, the Tennessee defensive line made great strides heading into next week’s game against Missouri.
Trevor Daniel, punter
Daniel continues to be one of the Vols most dangerous weapons on the field, and he showed why on Saturday night. The 2017 Ray Guy Award candidate booted eight punts for a whopping 394 yards against the Golden Eagles. Daniel averaged 50 yards-per-punt in the win over Southern Miss, which is his highest average since the South Carolina game (52). He repeatedly left the Golden Eagles with a long field and gave the Tennessee defense a chance to lead the team to a win.
Edited by Ben McKee
Feature image courtesy of UT Sports