COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara might not hold the starting tailback job if or when Jalen Hurd returns from injury, but the Vols team captain found a place in history Saturday afternoon.
Kamara helped Tennessee come from three touchdowns down to force overtime at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field, scoring three second-half touchdowns in the Vols’ 45-38 double-overtime loss.
Kamara had 161 yards receiving and a TD on 8 catches along with 127 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries. That makes him the only player from a Power 5 conference to have 150 yards receiving and 125 yards rushing in the same game in the last 20 seasons.
“We need him to continue to play at that level the rest of the season,” Vols quarterback Josh Dobbs said. “He had good, hard runs and explosive plays.”
Kamara got the start in place of Hurd, who is suffering what coach Butch Jones described as a “lower-extremity” issue — at the very least — and did not travel with the team for Saturday’s game.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Hurd has struggled at times running out of the Vols’ shotgun sets and is likely better suited for the I-formation, which does not require the same sort of quickness as taking a handoff standing next to the quarterback.
Kamara’s focus, however, was squarely on today’s film review and preparing Tennessee for next Saturday’s home game against top-ranked Alabama (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS).
“We feel good, the message in the locker room was positive, it’s one loss,” said Kamara, an explosive 5-foot-10, 215-pounder. “We go into every week wanting to go 1-0, and sometimes it doesn’t go our way, so we’ll go into next week and prepare and put this behind us.
“We’ll get into (Sunday) and just diagnose the film and be critical, and get moving on next week. This is not the end of the season.”
Sophomore John Kelly also saw work at tailback, carrying the ball 13 times for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Both Kamara and Kelly lost fumbles, however. That’s an area Kamara said will require even more focus moving forward. Tennessee lost 5 fumbles in the game, and 7 turnovers in all.
“We stress ball security in practice all the time, (so) guys just have to lock in and focus, starting with me,” Kamara said. “The turnovers, we really were killing ourselves. We know how to play football at the end of the day. Nobody got down, nobody got ahead of themselves, we just stayed in the moment and were able to put it in OT. We just came up short.”
Tennessee did so despite missing nine starters to injury by the end of the game.
“That’s one of our staples, next man up,” Kamara said. “Coach Jones says ‘next man up’ before every game. He says there’s a guy in the room who doesn’t think he’s going to play, who’s going to need to play.”
Kamara knew he was going to play at Texas A&M, and he made the most of it, as he also had a kick return for 16 yards and three punt returns totaling 8 yards for 312 total yards in the game.
Alvin Kamara (@Vol_Football) is the only Power 5 player with 150 receiving yards, 125 rushing yards in same game in last 20 seasons
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 9, 2016