One thing is for sure about Josh Heupel’s Tennessee offense, they go fast. We knew it was coming, but it was really something to watch it operate at full song in the first quarter. The Volunteers manufactured scoring drives in three and two minutes, running several plays as they marched down the field.
However, as the offense sputtered, so did the tempo. Tennessee lost its groove the in the second quarter and never really found it again. The offense turned to the rushing attack, which was able to put the game on ice in the third quarter.
Tennessee now has to clean up some issues in the passing game so they can get back to a balanced attack against Pittsburgh. Also, according to senior offensive lineman Jerome Carvin, they must play even faster too.
“The biggest challenge is just making sure of the tempo,” Carvin said Tuesday. “Our coaches harped on it. It was kind of too slow. They said it was slow. We’ve got to go faster. We’ve got to push the tempo faster, even more. That’s the center’s main job, is pushing tempo, so I’ve got to do a better job of that.”
Carvin slid over to center once Cooper Mays left the game with an ankle injury. That might have played a factor in some of the struggles, as Ollie Lane was inserted into the lineup to replace him. There’s already a learning curve, but they were then thrown that curveball on top of things.
Still, the offense operated quickly when at full song, running plays every several seconds to keep the defense from getting settled in.
Cedric Tillman actually laughed about that on Tuesday, noting that a few Bowling Green players mentioned Tennessee’s pace to him during the game.
“I didn’t hear any of that from their D-linemen,” Carvin said. “But their body language spoke a lot. We have to keep harping on the tempo, keep making it even faster.”
Tennessee ended up with well over 300 rushing yards on the night, wearing down Bowling Green with physicality and tempo. They hope they can do the same this week, but they’ll have a much tougher test against Pitt.