Rapid Reaction: Tennessee's defense completely dominates UAB, Vols win 30-7
Tennessee continues to state its case as the SEC’s most improved team this season as the Vols just finished up their non-conference schedule by blasting 6-1 UAB 30-7.
While Jeremy Pruitt would be the first to admit his defense is nowhere close to having the depth the coach covets on that side of the ball, the unit continues to improve and has quickly emerged as the most consistent group on Rocky Top.
Stretching back to the South Carolina game, the Tennessee defense had not been scored for nearly six quarters until the Blazers scored with 2:35 remaining in the game. The star performer for the Vols was sophomore cornerback Bryce Thompson, who registered three first-half interceptions Saturday night.
Tennessee’s quarterback situation continues to be an interesting storyline to watch as redshirt freshman JT Shrout got the start for the Vols but was quickly replaced by Jarrett Guarantano for the rest of the first half. Guarantano, who was sporting a glove/cast on his (non-throwing) left hand, threw a bad interception just before halftime was replaced by Shrout for the first drive of the second half.
Following the first drive of the second half, Guarantano then replaced Shrout. Guarantano finished the game completing 13 of 21 passes for 147 with one touchdown and one interception. Shrout finished 3 fo 6 for just 34 yards.
Tennessee’s banged-up offensive line, Darnell Wright and Jahmir Johnson sat out due to injuries, took a step back on the field on Saturday as the Vols rushed for only 133 yards (this total is adjusted for sacks) on 38 carries. Pass protection was also an issue at times, as the Vols surrendered two sacks and seven total tackles for loss.
Ty Chandler led the way on the ground with 85 yards on 16 carries. Jauan Jennings had another solid outing with a team-high five catches for 70 yards.
Tennessee’s Brent Cimaglia continues to perform at an All-SEC level as the kicker converted all three of his field goal attempts in this game. He hit from 36, 48 and a career-best 53 yards out.
With this win, Tennessee improves to 4-5 on the season and will travel to Kentucky next weekend. While the Wildcats will be coming off a bye week, Kentucky is currently looking up at Tennessee in the SEC East standings.