A win is a win?: week 3 on Rocky Top

Raise

1. Explosive plays – When compared with other teams around the country, Tennessee’s offense isn’t all that explosive. But when compared to the milquetoast Butch Jones third and draw play calling of years past, Tennessee looks absolutely dynamic. The Vols had three rushes of over twenty yards, and two passes eclipsing thirty. This doesn’t sound like much, but only a few games of the Jones era could boast similar credentials.

2. Spread the wealth – Tennessee’s deep rushing bullpen was on full display again Saturday, as four separate Tennessee backs ran for over 40 yards. A healthy Ty Chandler returned to lead what is proving to be one of the few silver linings in Pruitt’s playbook. Chandler has some serious wheels. He may be the fastest back UT has had since LaMarcus Coker. He showed off his fleet feet, outrunning UTEP’s entire secondary for 82 yards and a touchdown. Watch him to have a big year, and watch this deep position group to continue to surprise people.

Fold

1. Stage fright – Every time Tennessee took stage to sing the big solo on Saturday, it’s voice cracked, and the jocks pelted it with popcorn. Tennessee was an unsupportable 2/14 on third downs against UTEP. For you educated folks, that’s around 14%. Tennessee won’t score a touchdown, much less 24 points against any team worth its salt playing like that. It also turned the ball over twice, and had several unforced and timely penalties. Tennessee didn’t play focused or disciplined Saturday.

2. Slow starts – For the second week in a row, Tennessee entered halftime with only a 10-0 lead over a vastly inferior opponent. If Tennessee’s offense can’t find ways to gel early against the big boys, it will be digging itself out of a hole all night.

3. The front seven – It’s hard to criticize a defense that shut out its opponent… and yet here I go. Tennessee’s front seven failed to dominate or at times even effect an undersized and slow UTEP offensive line. In weeks passed I’ve addressed the supposed talent advantages the Vols should enjoy when it comes to its its defensive front, but it has yet to materialize. SEC offensive lines will eat this defensive front alive.

Hold

1. Hold me back it’s Florida week – Do I need to comment on this? It’s Christmas in September. It’s the best sports week of the year. It’s the annual gridiron battle between good and evil. Saturday can’t come soon enough.

The Bottom Line

Tennessee spent two weeks effectively playing scrimmages to prepare for Florida. UTEP hasn’t won a game since 2016. ETSU isn’t even a Division 1 AAA school. These games taught us very little about our football team. What we do know is this; we’re not very good. In fact I think we might be the worst team in the SEC. Tennessee will need leadership to win. Look for Jauan “Mad Dog” Jennings to step up and finally have the comeback game we’ve been waiting for. Next Saturday is a one game season. Beat Florida, and this likely 4-5 win year looks a lot better.

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