Rapid Reaction: Vols struggle in road debut against Sooners
Here are a couple quick thoughts on Tennessee’s 34-10 road loss to No. 4 Oklahoma:
What it means: Tennessee still has a long way to go in its rebuilding process before it can compete with a national contender. Many expected that Saturday’s game would be a blowout, so the outcome is far from shocking. However, Tennessee did show flashes of improvement at times. The glaring weakness was the offensive line. Justin Worley spent at least half the game on the ground, but made several good throws when given enough time in the pocket. Worley is an efficient passer and the loss shouldn’t be placed on his performance. Outside of a blindside fumble and two athletic interceptions, Worley had a solid individual performance. Still, Tennessee needs to see improvement before it can reclaim its place as a serious SEC contender.
What I liked: Despite running behind one of the poorest blocking efforts in college football, Jalen Hurd looked impressive for the second-consecutive week. Hurd had several big runs and finished with 97 yards on 14 carries, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. The freshman continues to show progress in his development and will only get better as time goes on.
Who’s the man: Bob Stoops. Give the devil his due, his team was prepared on Saturday. There was no true weakness for the balanced Oklahoma team. Quarterback Trevor Knight and wide receiver Sterling Shepard were as good as advertised. Eric Striker looked like the best pass rusher in the country, constantly applying pressure to Worley. The Sooners were stellar on both sides of the football and proved their No. 4 overall ranking.
Key Plays: Keith Ford’s 11-yard run in the second quarter provided the perfect response to a potential Tennessee comeback. Oklahoma held the lead out of the gate and was pressured by the Vols’ only touchdown pass. But Ford’s run reclaimed a comfortable lead for the Sooners on the ensuing drive and helped reclaim momentum.
What’s next: Tennessee has a bye week before traveling to Georgia on Sept. 27. The Bulldogs are coming off a heartbreaking 38-35 loss to South Carolina and will face Troy next weekend.