Tennessee fans were concerned about a potential hangover Saturday when the Volunteers hosted Indiana State just five days after a physical battle with Georgia Tech.
While the Vols certainly didn’t look their best at times against the Sycamores, overall, they did what they needed to do by blowing them out for a comfortable 42-7 win.
Here are a few takeaways:
John Kelly is the man
Who needs rest? There’s no doubt Kelly is Tennessee’s workhorse. He didn’t seem to be phased by all the hits he took from Georgia Tech’s defense on Monday. While Kelly didn’t punch in four touchdowns the way he did in the season opener, he showed consistent reliability. Sure, Carlin Fils-Aime had two rushing touchdowns. And true freshman Ty Chandler returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Those running backs played well for Tennessee, but Kelly still carried the heaviest load with 18 carries for 80 yards and a 4.4 average on the ground. He also caught five passes for 60 yards, which led the Vols in receiving. Tennessee’s offense, as a whole, didn’t look great as it finished the game with 395 yards. More on that…
Issues at receiver
It wasn’t a stellar day for starting quarterback Quinten Dormady, but it wasn’t bad. He wasn’t expected to throw for 300 yards on Saturday with Tennessee running a two-quarterback system to get redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano reps. Dormady finished the game 13-of-18 for 194 yards and a pair of scores. He did have one incredibly ugly interception in the third quarter. But the biggest issue in Tennessee’s passing game right now is its receivers. Kelly was the Vols’ leading pass-catcher, and that’s a problem. Of course, Jauan Jennings went down in Week 1, but Marquez Callaway stepped up in his absence. On Saturday, Tennesee’s second-leading receiver (behind its running back) was Brandon Johnson, who caught four passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Nobody else did anything significantly consistent. Tennessee is going to need more playmakers next week against Florida.
Defense looked better
It would be hard for it to look worse, right? Tennessee’s defense had a much better showing against the Sycamores after getting gashed for 655 yards by Georgia Tech on Monday. Of course, the 535 rushing yards allowed were the most in the history of Tennessee football. So it would have been hard for Indiana State to eclipse that. But Tennessee’s defense was able to dominate for the majority of the game Saturday. It held the Sycamores to 215 total yards — 122 rushing and 93 passing. It wasn’t Tennessee’s cleanest game on defense, but it was much better.