Someday, when advanced lifeforms have made the journey to earth, and ask to see sport at its finest form… they will not be shown highlights of the Tennessee-UTEP game. An announced crowd of more than 83,000 (including over 1,000 in attendance fleeing Hurricane Florence who were given free tickets by UT) saw a game that will be forgotten very quickly.
Still, there are observations I’d like to pass along.
The Vols beat UTEP 24-0 and here are my five takeaways:
1) Slow starts
This season Tennessee has looked like a team that thought the kickoff was about 40 minutes later than announced in each of its three games. The Vols have scored a grand total of 13 points in those opening quarters. On Saturday, Tennessee kicked a lone field goal against UTEP in the first 15 minutes.
The schedule is about to get a lot tougher. If this pattern continues the Vols will find themselves out of games before they’ve even broken a sweat.
2) Healthy Ty Chandler is key
Tennessee has its share of bruising running backs to throw at opposing defenses, but Ty Chandler is the only back with breakaway speed. He showed off that quality with an 81-yard touchdown run to open the second half on his way to a career high 158 rushing yards.
Chandler was knocked out of the opener against West Virginia and didn’t play last week against ETSU.
Tennessee has done a good job of holding onto the football (a Jeremy Banks fumble on Saturday was its first turnover this season), but they desperately need their big play guys to make things easier on that unit by getting yardage in bunches.
3) What about the defense?
In the last 120 minutes of game action, the Vols defense has allowed a total of three points. This was against ETSU and UTEP. They got torched in the opener against West Virginia.
What’s going to happen against the likes of Georgia, Auburn and Alabama?
Still, they only gave up 134 yards of total offense. The Miners were never a serious threat to score.
We’ve really learned nothing about the Tennessee defense lately and might not next week either when they play Florida. More on that in a second.
4) Jauan Jennings back in the scoring column
It was a simple swing pass from Jarrett Guarantano to Jennings early in the fourth quarter. Four yards and into the end zone for a touchdown. For Jennings, it was a significant accomplishment, his first touchdown since the 2016 season.
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