Tennessee coasts behind its defense against North Texas
In a game that Tennessee was supposed to dominate, North Texas hung tough and forced the Vols to earn their 24-0 victory.
It wasn’t a great performance by Tennessee’s offense. North Texas’s defense came into the game allowing 541.3 yards and 45.6 points per game. However, Tennessee’s defense played well, and the Vols found a way to extend their winning streak to three games — their longest win streak since 2010.
Here’s a closer look at the game.
1. With six wins in the regular season, Tennessee is bowl eligible: This is the first time that Tennessee (6-4) has been bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons since 2009-10.
2. Tennessee has the chance to end its season on a high note: The Vols should be favored in their final two regular season games against Missouri and Vanderbilt. If Tennessee could get those two wins and a bowl victory, it would finish the season 9-4 with a six-game winning streak.
Sports betting in Tennessee officially launched on November 1, 2020, and many of the largest sportsbooks are live and operating in the volunteer state. Tennessee is only one of a handful of SEC football states with legalized sports betting.
3. Tennessee’s offense got an early 14-point lead and coasted, again: After going up 14-0 on Jalen Hurd’s touchdown run, the offense fell into a slump. On its next four possessions, Tennessee scored only three points and gained only 76 yards. On three of those possessions, the offense started on North Texas’ side of the field. For the fourth game this season, the Vols’ offense stalled after leading by at least 14-points in the first half.
4. Tennessee’s defense had another solid outing: The defense allowed only 199 total yards. North Texas never advanced the ball beyond Tennessee’s 45-yard line, and Tennessee prevented the Mean Green from scoring any points. The Vols also stopped North Texas twice on fourth down in the first half.
5. Tennessee relied heavily on its rushing attack: In the midst of another inconsistent passing game for QB Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee’s ground attack provided its enough juice to beat North Texas. The Vols rushed for 237 yards, led by Alvin Kamara with 15 carries for 127 yards.
Offense: C — Did Tennessee put up enough points to win? Yes. Did its offense put up as many points as it should have? No. Coming into this game, North Texas’ defense gave up more than 45 points per game and allowed 66 points against FCS opponent Portland State. Yet, Tennessee’s offense managed to only score 17 points in the first three quarters. Tennessee’s offense was expected to put on a show, but instead produced another lackluster performance.
Defense: A — The only way for a team to make sure that it is going to win a game is by not allowing its opponent to score. That’s exactly what Tennessee’s defense did.
Special teams: B+ — The special teams made a few minor mistakes but had an overall solid performance. PK Aaron Medley made his only field-goal attempt and P Trevor Daniel had punts downed at the 4, 8 and 12-yard line. Winning the field position game was a big reason North Texas didn’t score.
Coaching: B — At some point Tennessee’s offensive players must find a way to maintain their focus for 60 minutes, motivate themselves and execute the called plays. Also, it was a good move by the coaching staff to call fewer designed runs for Dobbs. The dual-threat quarterback has an injured foot. There was no reason to put him in harm’s way.
Overall: B — Tennessee won, and was never in danger of losing. Period.
RB Alvin Kamara: The sophomore carried the ball 15 times for 127 yards and two TDs. He is now averaging 6.5 yards per carry on the season.
All of Tennessee’s defensive starters: Pitching a shutout requires high levels of play from everyone on defense. The defense held strong when the offense sputtered in the second and third quarters.