5 Biggest Takeaways: Tennessee through its first three games
Tennessee entered its Week 4 bye with a 2-1 record. The Vols kicked off the season with two dominant wins over Utah State and Arkansas State before dropping a disappointing loss to No. 4 Oklahoma. With Tennessee facing a bye, here’s the five biggest takeaways from its season through three games.
1. Justin Worley looks improved: Justin Worley is off to the best start of his career. The senior quarterback has 721 yards, six touchdowns and a 120.30 passer rating on 70-of-120 passing. Worley has shown confidence, poise and the leadership skills expected from a veteran quarterback, something he lacked through his first three seasons.
2. Jalen Hurd is ready for the SEC: Jalen Hurd has been Tennessee’s best offensive player through his first three career games. He currently leads Tennessee with 209 rushing yards, seeing a steady progression in each game. Hurd rushed for 29 yards in Week 1, 83 in Week 2 and 97 in Week 3. The five-star freshman has lived up to his extremely high expectations and looks to continue his progression as Tennessee’s feature back.
3. Offensive line needs to improve: Tennessee’s offensive line had zero prior starting experience entering the season. In Week 1, the o-line struggled with penalties in the first half. However, the line was truly exposed in Week 3 against Oklahoma. Facing one of the nation’s top pass rushing attacks, the young line allowed five sacks and eight QB hurries.
4. Defense’s defense is legit: Tennessee’s defense has played well through three games. The Vols have forced opponents to a 23.26 third down conversion percentage. Even against an overmatched Oklahoma offense, Tennessee forced a 3-of-12 conversion rate, with the Sooners taking several field goal attempts on drives starting with great field position. A.J. Johnson leads the SEC with 29 tackles and Jalen Reeves-Maybin isn’t far behind with 25. Cam Sutton has excelled as a standout corner, starting in every game at Tennessee since enrolling in 2013. The Vols also have several freshmen contributors that should continue to improve with gained experience.
5. Tennessee should be bowl eligible: Despite last week’s blowout loss, Tennessee looks like an improved team in 2014. The Vols have talent on both sides of the football and should benefit from gained experience as the season continues. Tennessee is capable of winning at least four more games, but will have a tall task against a tough schedule.