Tennessee completed its annual spring game on Saturday afternoon.

The White Team defeated the Orange Team 21-14 behind a strong showing from the Vols’ quarterback and wide receiver rooms. The Vols’ defense also played very well early on in the game.

Here are 3 takeaways from the exhibition:

The QB room looks strong

Nico Iamaleava is the headliner in the quarterback room, but the Vols appear to have plenty of depth at this position going into the 2024 campaign.

Iamaleava started the game and played well. His afternoon was highlighted by a 27-yard TD pass to Chas Nimrod in the corner of the end zone. He looked composed throughout the day as he prepares to enter his first summer as Tennessee’s starting quarterback.

Here’s video of Iamaleava’s touchdown pass to Nimrod:

Backup quarterbacks Gaston Moore and Jake Merklinger also had excellent afternoons.

Moore threw multiple touchdown passes, including a 63-yarder to 5-star freshman Mike Matthews at the end of the first half. He also threw this touchdown pass in the red zone to Dayton Sneed:

Merklinger was appearing in his first spring game after signing with the Vols as a 4-star recruit in the class of 2024. His day was punctuated by this impressive touchdown run:

Newcomers at WR

It’s tough to have good quarterback play without a strong wide receiver room, and it appears the Vols have upgraded at that position this offseason.

Matthews, the No. 24 player in the country for the class of 2024 per 247Sports Composite rankings, looked like he’ll be in line for a significant role in 2024 as a true freshman. At 6-foot-1, 186 pounds, Matthews has the speed and athleticism to create separation down the field.

Here’s an example of that from Saturday:

Transfer wide receiver Chris Brazzell II also had a big day as he looks to fight for a role in this offense. Brazzell, who arrived this offseason from Tulane, caught a 71-yard TD pass from Merklinger in the second half.

Here’s video of Brazzell’s big play:

Tennessee will be looking for more out of its wide receiver room in 2024. Last year, Squirrel White and Ramel Keyton were the only receivers on the team to clear 300+ yards on the season. White and Bru McCoy headline what should be an improved unit for the Vols this coming fall.

Tennessee’s defense answers some questions, but more remain

Tennessee’s secondary was perhaps the program’s biggest question mark coming into Saturday, and the Vols did provide some answers as to who may start on the back end of their defense this fall. Jermond McCoy and Rickey Gibson started at cornerback while Jakobe Thomas and John Slaughter got the nod at safety. Jourdan Thomas started at the Vols’ STAR position.

Tennessee’s first-team defense played well early on, as they forced a three-and-out on Iamaleava’s opening drive. Much of UT’s success on defense can probably be attributed to its strong efforts up front (and perhaps some injuries to UT’s starting offensive line).

The defense will remain an area to watch for as the Vols consider adding reinforcements via the transfer portal this spring. The transfer window is set to re-open on Monday.

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