KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A depleted Tennessee team down 13 former starters and with only 56 scholarship players suited up couldn’t overcome LSU — or itself — on Saturday night.
The No. 21-ranked Bayou Bengals (8-3, 5-2 SEC) scored a 30-10 victory over the Vols (4-7, 0-7) and interim coach Brady Hoke.
The Vols muffed two punts in the first half, directly leading to 10 points for the Tigers, and then botched a kickoff to open the second half, burying themselves at their own 3-yard line.
Tennessee outgained LSU 287-281, but the Vols could not overcome their special teams blunders.
Weather played a role in the game. Winds climbed to 40 mph during a torrential downpour that knocked out lights and chased most of 96,888 out of the stadium by the end of halftime.
Tennessee closes the regular season at 4 p.m. ET next Saturday against Vanderbilt (4-6, 0-6) at Neyland Stadium.
The Vols’ makeshift offensive line did what it could against LSU’s talented front seven, but it was often overwhelmed, finishing with 38 yards rushing on 34 attempts.
Three of Tennessee’s five fourth quarter linemen hadn’t even played this season through the first eight games.
By the end of the night, the Vols’ attrition grew: starters Jashon Robertson (OL), Marquez Callaway (WR), Daniel Bituli (LB) and Jonathan Kongbo (DE) all left the game with injuries.
Tennessee Football Stock Up
• Punter Trevor Daniel averaged 51 yards on 4 punts, despite a wet field that afforded him virtually no bounce on the kicks he put over the heads of LSU’s returner.
• Linebacker Quart’e Sapp led the team with 14 tackles.
Tennessee Football Stock Even
• Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (13 of 23, 239 yards) threw his first career TD pass against FBS competition, and the first one since he has become a starter, but it was another struggle. Guarantano was often not in sync with his receivers and continued to struggle with game management.
• Tailback John Kelly had some nice moments on screen plays, finishing with 3 catches for 31 yards along with 47 yards rushing on 25 attempts.
Tennessee Football Stock Down
• Special teams returner Marquez Callaway fumbled 2 punts in the first half — at the Vols’ 19 and Vols’ 15 — leading directly to LSU scoring a touchdown and a field goal. Callaway opened the second half struggling to handle a kickoff, falling on the ball at the Tennessee 3-yard line.
• Team health: Senior offensive lineman Jashon Robertson left the game in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury and 279-pound redshirt sophomore Joe Keeler saw action for the first time this season.