Sound Off: With thrilling win in books, Tennessee eyes improvement before Florida

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee football has won five straight openers under coach Butch Jones.

Tennessee’s 42-41 double-overtime victory over Georgia Tech on Monday night, however, was by far the most exciting of those season-opening wins.

The No. 21-ranked Vols rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 28-28 in regulation and force overtime.

Tennessee’s defense — which was on the field more than 40 minutes during regulation against the Yellow Jackets’ ball-control offense — came up with the game-winning stop in the second overtime.

Here’s a look at how each Tennessee unit performed:

Special teams

Jones has emphasized special teams since taking over the Tennessee program following the 2012 season, and it continues to pay off.

The Vols were dominant in this area, blocking a potential game-winning field-goal attempt as time expired in regulation. The Vols averaged 47 yards on six punts and got 85 yards on two kick returns from Evan Berry.

Offense

Tennessee’s offense got going in the fourth quarter, sparked by the hard running of John Kelly, and directed by junior quarterback Quinten Dormady.

Marquez Callaway emerged as a go-to receiver for the Vols with more than 100 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns in the second half after starter Jauan Jennings left the game in the second quarter with a wrist injury.

Tennessee gets left tackle Drew Richmond back from suspension for the game Saturday against Indiana State and can work on its continuity on the offensive line leading into the Florida game in Week 3.

Defense

Georgia Tech’s triple option gashed the Vols for 535 rushing yards, with cut blocks effectively taking a toll on Tennessee’s front line as the game wore on.

The Vols must learn the injury status of team captain and starting defensive tackle Kendal Vickers, who left the game due to an injury in the second half.

Tennessee also needs to see improvement in the secondary, where sophomore Nigel Warrior was caught out of position more than once.

The Vols’ front seven is expected to fare much better against conventional offenses than the triple option it faced Monday night.