ATLANTA, Ga. — Tennessee needed some of its young and unproven wide receivers to step up in the season opener against Georgia Tech.
No one knew who would make the plays at wideout when the team needed it most, but everyone knows now.
Sophomore Marquez Callaway had an explosive second half that featured 4 catches for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns. He helped Tennessee come back to defeat Georgia Tech 42-41 in double overtime Monday in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The coaching staff didn’t alter any schemes or any play-calls after the first half, Callaway said after the game. The players just needed to make the plays when they had opportunities.
“Nothing really,” Callaway said of any adjustments. “The coaches came in and we really didn’t change anything on the game plan. He just told us the plays, and that we would have to execute them. So, that’s what we went out and did.”
Callaway’s first touchdown came on a 10-yard fade route in the end zone with 42 seconds left in the third quarter. The 6-foot-2, 199-pound wideout picked the ball out of the air while out-jumping his defender.
Callaway’s second touchdown came at the 11:49 mark in the fourth quarter to bring the Vols back to 28-21. He caught a short curl route, turned and stiff-armed his defender, and then sprinted down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown run.
“Marquez Callaway, what can I say about that individual?” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. “He sparked us and made some very, very key plays for us, obviously.
“He has always been one of those individuals that plays with great consistency. Always has energy. Always uplifting. So again, that doesn’t surprise me.”
Callaway wasn’t really considered a go-to threat coming into the game. He played in six games in 2016 and recorded only 1 catch for 13 yards.
While his tremendous play in primetime might have surprised some, Tennessee running back John Kelly said after the game that was what the team expected.
“He’s a playmaker,” Kelly said. “I’m just glad that he was able to make those plays. I’m happy for him. He showed little flashes all through camp and just like last year a little bit when he got those reps. We knew Quez was a playmaker.”