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Open Game Thread: Tennessee vs. Ball State

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NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Tennessee Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Volunteers open their 2022 season tonight against the Ball State Cardinals from the MAC. Josh Heupel is looking to take another step forward in year two, and should have a nice tune-up opportunity tonight ahead of a key road matchup against Pittsburgh.

Discuss the game below, and we’ll offer our thoughts and updates live as we test out our new feature.


Final score: Tennessee 59, Ball State 10

Justin Williams-Thomas and Jackson fumble an exchange, setting up Ball State in the redzone. Sloppy play from the freshmen.

Tayven Jackson in the game at quarterback.

Milton is still Milton, all fastballs all the time. However, this time around, he looked more under control. He threw an absolute dart to Jimmy Holiday for a 53 yard touchdown strike to put the exclamation mark on his night. 59-7.

Good looking drive there for Dylan Sampson. Ran hard, caught a pass, moved the chains. Sampson did, in fact, see the field before Justin Williams-Thomas. Sampson found his first career touchdown to cap off the drive. 52-7.

Hooker’s night is done. Joe Milton is in the game.

Ball State gets on the board with a touchdown pass from Paddock. It was an ugly drive for the Tennessee secondary, and the Cardinals cash in to make it 45-7.

Jaylen Wright’s big run setup himself — Wright finished off the first drive of the second half to bring us to a 45-0 score. It’s time to put the starters on ice.

Ball State appeared to have a touchdown before half, but a fumble in the endzone created a touchback. Tennessee ran out the clock from there, taking a 38-0 lead to half.

Hooker tosses another — a 16 yarder to Walker Merrill. 38-0 Tennessee.

Kamal Hadden pick. Things quickly unravelling for Ball State. This is going to turn into a bit of a preseason game for the Volunteers in the second half, it appears.

TOUCHDOWN TENNESSEE: A quick, efficient drive ends with a Jabari Small touchdown run. Big plays in the passing game from McCoy and Small put the Vols in place. They’re rolling, now up 31-0.

Plenty of check-with-me throws from Hooker so far. Honestly, a touch high on a few of them too. Tennessee offense not quite at full song just yet.

Not super impressed with the Tennessee defensive to this point. Leaky man coverage and a real lack of pressure rushing four is a concern so far. Tim Banks opting not to blitz too much here so far.

A big play off a hitch route to Bru McCoy setup another Hendon Hooker touchdown run, his second of the night. It was a read option look, and Tennessee cashed in again. 24-0.

End of 1: Tennessee 17, Ball State 0

Hooker big completion over the middle to Ramel Keyton on third down. Nice job by Keyton to make something happen. Tennessee across midfield. Big personel change... Wright, Merrill, Squirrel in.

Three and out, Omari Thomas bats the ball down on third down. Joshua Josephs seeing plenty of time on the field early on.

Pretty gross offensive series gets bailed out by a neutral zone infraction and Jabari picks up the first on fourth and one. Another penalty, this time DPI, set up Tennessee inside the five. Hendon Hooker finishes the drive off on the ground for six. Not the sharpest start for the Tennessee offense, but 17 quick points nonetheless.

Ball State tries a sneak on fourth and one.... no sir. Jeremy Banks finishes off the play to stuff Paddock. Tennessee football, and they’re in business again.

Hooker finds Tillman for a first, then Bru McCoy for another. Tempo, tempo, tempo.... Tennessee gets in the redzone and stalls. Princeton Fant with a bad drop. Vols add a field goal. 10-0 Tennessee (8:08 1st Q)

Ball State goes on 4th, fails. Tennessee ball near their own 40.

Nice job of rebounding here from Ball State QB John Paddock. He’s calmed down and delivered a couple of nice throws on third downs.

TOUCHDOWN TENNESSEE!!!! Hooker to Jalin Hyatt to start the season. Let’s go!

TAMARION MCDONALD with a pick on the first snap of the game. Tennessee football at the 23 going in.

Lineup notes: Bru McCoy starts at receiver, along with Gerald Mincey at left tackle and Christian Charles at corner.

OUT TONIGHT: LB Juwan Mitchell, WR Chas Nimrod, TE Miles Campbell and DBs Dee Williams and De’Shawn Rucker (no reason given)