KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee got the kind of performance the coaches, players and fans have been waiting for, dominating wire-to-wire in a 55-0 homecoming win over Tennessee Tech on Saturday.
Coach Butch Jones said his players invested a great deal into practice in the days leading up to the win over the Golden Eagles on Saturday, and it showed.
Here’s a look at how the Vols (6-3) graded out in the win over Tennessee Tech (3-6):
Josh Dobbs completed his first 11 attempts en route to a 12-of-13 passing performance that netted 183 yards and 3 touchdowns in less than one half of work. Quinten Dormady saw his first extended playing time and was 9-of-13 for 109 yards and Sheriron Jones completed his only attempt — the first of his career — for 2 yards.
RUNNING BACKS (B+)
Sophomore John Kelly made the most of his first start by rushing for 104 yards on 7 carries, including a 73-yard TD run. Second-teamer Carlin Fils-Aime was not as impressive, gaining just 27 yards on 8 carries. The diminutive Fils-Aime scored 2 TDs on short runs, but he missed some cuts he’ll see in the film room. Jeremy Lewis had 6 carries for 34 yards in cleanup time.
Josh Malone had his first 100-yard receiving game of the season with a career-high 112 yards on 5 catches. Malone caught the first 2 TD passes of the game, including an impressive 43-yard over-the-shoulder catch from Dobbs in the opening quarter. Freshman Brandon Johnson established his career high with 64 yards on 5 catches and fellow freshman Tyler Byrd had 2 catches for 37 yards.
OFFENSIVE LINE (A-)
It was the sixth different combination of offensive linemen to start for Tennessee, and it was by far the most impressive effort of the season. The Vols averaged 7.1 yards per carry and the UT quarterbacks were not sacked. Drew Richmond’s motion penalty was the only flag of the night on the offensive line.
DEFENSIVE LINE (B)
Tennessee substituted freely or this no doublt would have been a much more dominant effort. Corey Vereen had 3 tackles and a sack, and Dimarya Nixon, LaTroy Lewis and Kendal Vickers were also in on sacks.
The Vols pulled starters Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Elliott Berry quickly, getting work for backup weak side linebacker Cortez McDowell (3 tackles, interception) and backup middle linebacker Colton Jumper (2 tackles, TFL, QB hurry).
Tennessee gave up 164 yards passing, allowing Michael Birdsong a 17-of-35 passing performance that had just 1 interception — by LB Cortez McDowell. Freshman Nigel Warrior had a team-high 7 tackles, and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley and Rashaan Gaulden had 6 tackles each. Marquill Osborne had a sack.
SPECIAL TEAMS (A)
Freshman Marquez Callaway had a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown along with a 52-yard punt return. Tyler Byrd returned a kickoff 31 yards. Aaron Medley made his field goal attempts of 19 and 42 yards, and Trevor Daniel averaged 45.7 on his 3 punts.
Butch Jones had his team ready to play in a game that wouldn’t seem to provide as much inspiration as some bigger-name opponents, and for that he and his assistants deserve credit. The Vols’ scheme was sound and the team executed as well as expected. The substitution pattern appeared sound.