Friday kicked off the first official night of college football, and Tennessee was ranked in the Top 10 for the first time in a little under 10 years. Everything was supposed to go great, considering their “inferior” opponent in App State. It was a home game, and all the hype is there, but it didn’t go as expected.
Cam Sutton fumbled a punt, and App State was up 7-0. By halftime, App State was up 13-3 on Tennessee. Tennessee, who was apparently a top 10 team with a three-way rushing attack, had been held to the 3 points in the first half.
Things wouldn’t turn around until the 4th quarter when the Vols somehow duck taped a win together, although it took OT, a gutsy move by QB Joshua Dobbs, and some Neyland luck.
This was a complete shock to many people. Tennessee was supposed to show up as a juggernaut this season and the next minute they’re headed into overtime with a Sun Belt team? Now don’t freak, the Vols can rebound from this.
What exactly were the good things to take from last game though? Well….
- The Defense– While the defense was near pathetic in the first half, Bob Shoop proved to Tennessee fans he was what they needed. Last season, the Vols making second half adjustments was unheard of, so when the defense came out and stopped a relentless rushing attack, it was huge. They were against a wall, so with Jalen Reeves-Maybin ejected early into the first quarter, this was an impressive defensive showing.
- Comeback Win– Tennessee now knows what it’s like to win a close game. Last season (for the most part), it was either a huge blow out or a devastating choke-job. Now Tennessee has shown they can come back from behind (even if it was just App State) and pull out a win.
How do they rebound from this? Well…..
- Keep the Offense on the Field Longer– Although the defense played lights out in the second half, the offense needs to start putting together drives to allow the defense to rest. No defense will continue to flourish if their offensive unit constantly goes three and out.
- Make Passing the Second Option– Tennessee is a rushing team. They have a one-two punch of Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, along with mobile QB Joshua Dobbs, so take advantage of them. The Vols seemed to want to force the pass in the first half, which obviously didn’t work. It wasn’t until the late second half that the run game started being brought into the game plan, and that’s when the Vols finally scored and eventually won them the game.
- Don’t Rely on Being a Second Half Team– The Vols, while it’s good to contain the ability of being a second half team, can not rely on being one. The Vols have to come out and play strong for 60+ minutes if they want to win against top teams such as Alabama. Playing half a game may squeak by on a team like App State, but that’s about it.
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