Tennessee defeated South Carolina on Saturday night, winning 31-27 and starting the season off 1-0. This was a classic ugly win but a win nonetheless. Tennessee holds the longest win streak in the nation, among Power 5 teams, now with 7 games in a row. Let’s break down some of the action from last night.
There are still many questions on the offensive side, specifically at the quarterback position. Jarrett Guarantano did seem to take a step forward in decision-making but there were too many throws, he would like to have back. Accuracy was the main problem, and Vol fans hope that is simply due to first game excitement and should be fixed this week in practice.
Tennessee was a mere 1 for 11 on third down. That is simply not acceptable if they want to continue to win moving forward. That is where some of the accuracy problems were shown, missing open receivers downfield a few times. On the contrary, there were times where Guarantano made good decisions, got the ball out of his hands quickly, and delivered an accurate pass. With more practice time, the mistakes hopefully are cleared and we see a cleaner game next week.
Time Will Tell
On the defensive side of the ball, the game started very shakily, with the Vols giving up long drive for a touchdown on the first series. However, they turned it around and played a superb first half, which included a pick-six by the leader of the unit Henry To’o To’o. Still, the second half was not as great, as the Defense allowed 20 points. The secondary did a good job stopping deep balls but got beat in the shallow crossing patterns many times.
The front seven played well for the most part and applied pressure to the Quarterback on many occasions finishing with four sacks. With Jeremy Pruitt and Derrick Ainsley being some of the best defensive minds in all of college football, the unit as a whole should improve vastly from week to week.
Stars of the Game
There were many bright spots from the game. Deandre Johnson flashed with 2.5 sacks, as well as 6 tackles. He leads the SEC in sacks after one week. Henry To’o To’o racked up 6 tackles, along with a pick-six early in the game. Tyler Baron and Kivon Bennett applied pressure and stopped the run many times. On the offensive side, Ty Chandler ran hard and did his job, finishing with 13 carries for 86 yards. Josh Palmer and Brandon Johnson shined making spectacular catches.
There are a lot of mistakes that need to be cleaned up, and a full week of practice should help with that. Special teams definitely had ups and downs as well. Tennessee comes back home and is set to play Missouri next week. Missouri is coming off an ugly loss against Alabama and will be hungry for a win. We will see how Tennessee improves and look to continue their win streak.
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