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Tennessee vs Indiana State: Final Grades

A Week 2 breakdown of Tennessee’s victory

NCAA Football: Indiana State at Tennessee
The Vols took care of business on Saturday.
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, Tennessee was able to get a nice win on Saturday over an inferior opponent. They were able to put the game away early and had multiple opportunities to allow younger players to get on the field.

The Vols didn't cover the spread, but they still dominated the entire game. Let's take a look at the final grades from the past week:


The Vols excelled in all areas on the offensive side of the ball this past weekend. The offensive line blocked very well, Quinten Dormady had another solid performance, and the receivers made the necessary plays when called upon.

But the running back position caught my eye on Saturday more than any other group.

Holy Schnikes, we are loaded in the backfield.

Ty Chandler got the ball rolling with a 91-yard kickoff return to open the game. Indiana State had already cranked up the busses by the time he crossed midfield.

Next up was the main man, John Kelly. He used his trademark toughness and hard running to work his way up to 80 yards on 18 carries and also led the team in receptions and yardage, catching five balls for 60 yards.

Carlin Fils-Aime had a tough run into the end zone for his first touchdown of 2017 and then broke away on a 30-yard scamper to notch his second touchdown of the game. Tim Jordan even made his opportunities matter, averaging over five yards per carry.

It was an impressive performance and it could carry major momentum into the next game.

NCAA Football: Indiana State at Tennessee
Fils-Aime heads toward the end zone on his second touchdown run of the day.
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Going back to Dormady, one of the more impressive moments of the night came at the end of the first half when the Vols were facing a 3rd and 6 from the Sycamores 19-yard line.

Dormady approached the line, recognized the defense, and checked out of a couple mismatches in order to complete a beautiful, back shoulder throw to Brandon Johnson to put the Vols up by 28 points.

The only damper on the day were back to back turnovers for the Vols in the second half which also included the first allowed sack of the season.

Overall, it was a very good day for the offense. They executed well and were more than efficient. Even though I expected more points - they still dominated the game - but they weren't perfect.

Final Grade: 3.5 (A)


Everyone and their mother had their eyes on the Tennessee defense and while there were some marked areas of improvement, the overall product was still lacking.

The Vols had a tough time stopping the run again, allowing over 120 rushing yards for the game. The Sycamores turned the corner consistently and also had success with jet sweeps. That is not something you want to see against a FCS team.

Despite the success on the ground, the Vols allowed zero third down conversions for the entire game, which is definitely something to hang your hat on.

Another bad stat line however, is the fact that Tennessee registered just one sack on the day. Darrell Taylor, Kahlil McKenzie, and Shy Tuttle (on occasion) played well, but the rest of the defensive line left a lot to be desired.

The secondary played pretty well, allowing less than half of quarterback Cade Spark's passes to be completed. However, I still don't understand why Justin Martin is allowed to start games.

NCAA Football: Indiana State at Tennessee
Justin Martin has been a liability in 2017
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The linebackers played decent, but the lack of speed at the position was glaring. The Vols really need to consider moving middle linebacker Colton Jumper to the outside to compensate for his lack of speed. Middle linebacker Daniel Bituli was listed as the third mike on the depth chart when he should be starting.

The defense was far from perfect and didn’t create any turnovers, but they held Indiana State to just one score and were effective for the entire game.

Final Grade: 3.0 (B)

Special Teams

As mentioned earlier, Chandler did his best Evan Berry impersonation and ran back the opening kick for a touchdown. Trevor Daniel averaged closed to 50 net yards per punt. The coverage teams swarmed again on both punts and kickoff returns.

Aaron Medley was perfect on all six of his PATs yet again, and the Vols had yet another impressive showing on special teams. This unit continued to be the strength of the Vols for the the second week in a row.

Final Grade: 4.0 (A)


All around, it was a much better day for the Tennessee coaching staff. Head coach Butch Jones did not have any questionable moments of time management, the play-calling was solid, and the players seemed to be well rested after playing a hard fought game just a few days before.

Once again, Bob Shoop is under the spotlight. The Vols were lined up a yard off the line of scrimmage - which is questionable in its own right - but were also continuously beat to the outside and could not create any type of pass rush.

At some point one has to wonder if the vanilla approach is a muse, a tactic to not show any type of specific look before this week's showdown against Florida.

But after almost ten straight performances of terrible defense, that doesn't seem likely. It's starting to set in that this may be a permanent look and that has the potential to big a major headache.

Regardless, we will find out this weekend what this team is really made of. Florida is the first of many SEC tests in 2017 and Tennessee will look to ace the first one.

Final Grade: 3.0 (B)

Overall Grade For Week Two: 3.38 (A-)

The Vols came out and did what they were supposed to do, but still did not execute like you would expect against a FCS team. One sack, no turnovers, and the inability to stop the run will cost you games in the SEC and Tennessee now heads to Gainesville (weather permitting) for their first big road game of the season.

The defense can't expect to ride the offense to wins all season long. They need to step up at some point and until they do so, they will continue to be the concrete shoes for the team.

Overall Grade For The 2017 Season: 2.96 (B-)