That… was ugly.
If you were in Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon, and stayed for all 60 minutes, God Bless You.
There wasn’t much offense. There weren’t many exciting plays. It was a meeting of two teams with A LOT of room for improvement, and the end result was a forgettable four quarters of football.
Tennessee beat Charlotte 14-3. Here are my five takeaways.
1) The Non-existent Run Game
Tennessee ran the football 26 times for 20 yards. The Vols averaged 0.8 yards per carry. The Vols leading rusher was Jeremy Banks with 24 yards.
The reality was actually worse than those numbers look. Tennessee had negative rushing yards heading into the fourth quarter and only moved into positive territory on their second to last drive of the game.
The Vols much-maligned offensive line was manhandled by the 49ers defensive line and Tennessee’s running backs didn’t have any holes to run through.
2) The Kyle Phillips Experience
It hasn’t been the easiest of roads for defensive end Kyle Phillips at Tennessee, but he’s putting together a very good senior season. He’s tied for fourth on the team in tackles with 37. Against Charlotte, Phillips had two tackles for a loss, including a sack. He also knocked down two passes.
Without the performance of Phillips and that Vols defense, it’s possible the outcome would have been different.
“One thing coach (Jeremy Pruitt) always tells us is that the game starts zero to zero, so if they don’t score, they can’t win,” Phillips told reporters after the game. “As a defense, we can’t worry about whether or not the offense is struggling or doing good. We have to play our game and take care of what we can control.”
That’s a diplomatic way of putting it, but it had to be frustrating holding the 49ers to only 244 total yards of offense… while your own offense could only come up with 192 total yards of offense.
3) Dominick Wood-Anderson’s Bright Future
There are certain players you look at and right away can tell that they are going to be playing on Sundays someday. Tennessee tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson is one of those guys. The JUCO transfer had three catches for 53 yards against Charlotte, including a 33-yard grab. He’d missed the past two games due to injury, but when healthy has the potential to be a difference maker for this offense.
He has the size, hands and blocking ability to be on an NFL roster, and has another season in Knoxville to hone his craft.
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