That felt good. Tennessee Tech didn't offer much, if any, resistance, but after one of the darkest weeks of Butch Jones' tenure following the upset loss to South Carolina, a blowout victory was just what the doctor ordered. And everybody got in on the action, with the defense pitching a shutout, the offense dominating on the ground and through the air, and the special teams unit scoring a touchdown to cap off a 55-0 victory at Neyland Stadium Saturday afternoon. It's hard to learn a lot from facing a 3-6 FCS opponent, but the Trending Report is here to glean what it can.
- A beatdown, finally. Crazy stat of the week: before Saturday, Tennessee was winless against the spread in the five games without College GameDay and town (and 3-0 in front of the GameDay crew). In those five games, the Vols fell an average of 15 points short of the spread, only coming within two touchdowns once and playing three single-digit contests as favorites of 14 or more points. So our staff could be forgiven when all eight of us predicted Tennessee to fall short of the 41.5-point spread this weekend. But Tennessee didn't fall short, scoring their first touchdown within a minute of the opening kickoff and never letting up on the way to a 55-0 victory. Yes, it was against an FCS team, but after a year of playing down to the competition, it was about time.
- Atlanta, back on the table. Tennessee might've said goodbye to their goals of a 10-win season and being in the national conversation into December, but the goal of winning the East is still on the table. Florida was non-competitive in Fayetteville, failing to score an offensive touchdown in a 31-10 loss to the Razorbacks. With a home date against South Carolina and a trip to Baton Rouge on the docket, there's a better than average chance that the Gators drop another conference game, opening the door for the Vols. Tennessee still needs three more wins, which is no sure thing given their struggles so far, but a trip to Atlanta to play for a title is still well within the realm of possibility.
- Getting to see the backups. John Kelly went over 100 yards on only seven carries, Carlin Fils-Aime found the end zone twice, and Marquez Callaway took a punt return to the house in the fourth quarter to put a cap on things. Oh, and Sheriron Jones threw a pass! That's what happens when you don't dig yourself into a double-digit hole all the time.
- Confidence in the secondary. Perhaps this is a stretch, but when you win 55-0, there aren't many downward trends. So bear with us. Anyways, injuries are undoubtedly responsible for a lot of Tennessee's struggles on defense, but most of Tennessee's 2017 secondary was on the field this Saturday, and whatever success the Golden Eagles had was through the air. When you have a three-year junior starter at corner that even an FCS opponent sees as the man to pick on, it might be time for concern about your ability to develop corners.