The Tennessee Volunteers will not make a bowl game for the first time in four years following their 30-10 loss to LSU on Saturday. Interim head coach Brady Hoke surely switched things up for the Vols, but they still came up short in their first game after the firing of Butch Jones.
Here are five takeaways from Tennessee’s messy loss under the lights on Saturday.
1. Tennessee offensive line is awful
The Volunteers offensive line had just five scholarship players available heading into Saturday’s matchup. To make matters worse, the only non-freshman on the offensive line, Jashon Robertson, was injured in the second half. This forced walk-on Joe Keeler into the game and made it nearly impossible for Tennessee to get anything going on the ground. The Vols rushed for just 38 yards on 34 carries, with the longest run going for just nine yards. Injuries have remained a problem for Tennessee, and especially the offensive line.
2. Weather made a profound impact on the game
About the time that the Volunteers and Tigers came back on the field after halftime, a near monsoon came upon Neyland Stadium. In fact, the wind bent one of the Tennessee goalposts and caused a piece of the jumbotron to fly off and hit a fan. To add on, the stadium lights were knocked out and ESPN was forced to use multiple different angles to capture the game because their view was limited. Both teams essentially ran the ball every down until the storm blew over.
3. Guarantano finally broke through
By no means was Guarantano’s game magnificent, but he did reach some milestones. Guarantano had just his second 200-yard passing game this season, and logged a passing touchdown for the first time since his debut in the Indiana State game in week two. It was his one of his best performances of the season, and considering the weather and the solid Tigers secondary, it was pretty impressive. Guarantano had one of his best games following the dismissal of Butch Jones, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
4. Hoke had the Vols playing loose
Regardless of the outcome of the game, the Tennessee players looked re-energized and loose following the firing of Jones. Hoke’s “tweaking” of the offense featured much more under-center playcalls and attempts to milk the clock. To keep it short, Hoke was handed the keys to a fractured team, but he stilled managed to bring life to it. The game and the weather were both messy, but Hoke still brought life into the football players and into the dedicated members of Vol Nation.
5. Tennessee looks to avoid a historic loss next week
The Volunteers lost to LSU and will miss a bowl for the first time since 2013, but next week’s game against Vanderbilt has a ton riding on the line. If Tennessee loses to the Commodores, they will have officially finished with the worst record in Vols football history. A loss to Vanderbilt next week in Neyland Stadium would put Tennessee at an abysmal 4-8 record, which would be the worst in the 126-year tenure of the Volunteers football program. Tennessee may not be going to a bowl game this season, but they still have something to play for.
Edited by Ben McKee
Feature image courtesy of UT Sports