It was pretty smooth sailing for Tennessee against ETSU on Saturday at Neyland Stadium. The Vols rolled to a 59-3 win. Here’s what stood out.
Tennessee’s defense showed up in a big way on Saturday in the turnover department. ETSU really struggled just to get passes beyond the line of scrimmage because of the Vols’ active hands. Tennessee batted a handful of passes up into the air, creating plenty of opportunities for takeaways today.
Bryce Thompson and Darrin Kirkland Jr. capitalized, each grabbing interceptions. Kirkland took his to the house, while Thompson brought his back to the goal line. Tennessee was also able to block a punt today, and it was Marquill Osborne taking it back for a touchdown.
These plays were huge for a team that came out and struggled to move the ball early. The defense definitely ignited the fire today.
Banks finished the day with 13 carries for 62 yards and two scores, but it was his confidence and attitude that caught the fans eye. Banks could first be seen pumping up the crowd as the huddle broke, knowing he was about to get a good shot at his first career touchdown. He did indeed punch that ball over the goal line — and was promptly chewed out on the sideline by head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
Banks dialed it back after that, but was pretty impressive running the football. His size and pop was notable between the tackles. It’s going to be interesting to see how they work him in the rotation once Ty Chandler returns.
Offensive line struggles early
This game started — real ugly. The offensive line was legitimately getting blown off the line of scrimmage to start the day. There were some anxious moment to start, but thankfully they turned a corner after the lightning delay. Remember, it was already the second starting lineup of the year for the Vols, who lost starting center Brandon Kennedy for the season this week.
That is however two weeks in a row that the offensive line has had a sluggish start. That’s a key going into UTEP this week that needs to be ironed out before Florida.
Marquez Callaway targets
If you’ve read this sit for very long, you’ve probably seen me complaining about Butch Jones not using Callaway in 2017 after a dominant game against Georgia Tech. We don’t have to worry about that anymore.
Callaway was targeted seven times today, bringing his total to 15 through two weeks. He’s caught 12 of those passes, racking up 163 yards so far this year. Callaway is averaging over 13 yards per catch and is the clear cut No. 1 for this offense. He caught just 24 passes during the entire 2017 season.
It’s almost like good things happen when you get your best players involved. Who knew?