Which means it’s time to jump into an orange and green hot air balloon and float through the Tennessee Volunteer-related thoughts drifting around inside my mind.
1) A win is a win. I’ll always happily take it. It was supposed to be a field goal game, per Vegas, and the Vols still found a way to come out on the end of it by a good bit more than that.
2) That being said, the 2022 team wins that game by no less than 20 points. Probably more.
3) And that’s largely because Joe Milton cannot complete simple passes. His accuracy is just bad. When completing a simple slant pattern is a celebratory-worthy event instead of a simple, routine timing pattern, you know it’s gotten bad. And that was me after a completion on a slant pattern after a bad misfire on a previous one.
4) To be fair, it’s not all just on Milton. When the opportunities are there, the catches aren’t being made. Ramel Keyton’s drop was criminally bad and would have been an easy score. Fortunately, a roughing the passer call continued the drive, and the Vols tied it up on a 7-yard pass to Jacob Warren.
5) Accordingly, Josh Heupel has had to lean on the running game way more this year, and it’s worked so far through six games. It worked again on Saturday. Well, at least it worked well enough. 49 carries for 232 yards (4.7 ypc) is pretty solid on paper. However, it didn’t end up translating to points thanks to the passing game failing to do much when needed.
6) Defensively, holy absolute crap, what an incredible performance by the entire defense, and especially the defensive line. Texas A&M QB Max Johnson was running for his life more often than not. The pressure unquestionably affected the Aggies’ passing attack and was the main reason why A&M scored only 13 points. A tremendous effort from the Vols’ defensive front.
7) James Pearce, Jr. is an absolute DUDE. A sack, two tackles for loss, and five quarterback hits. He’s up to six sacks (second in SEC) and 9 tackles for loss on the year. His relentless performance earned him SEC defensive lineman of the week honors for the second time this month. There simply aren’t any defensive linemen in the SEC playing better than him right now.
8) It’s Bama week, and the Tide just barely got past Arkansas last week. They’re not the Bama team of recent years. However, this is also not the Tennessee team of a year ago, as previously mentioned. I could see a UT win if Milton and Keyton or Squirrel White can connect on a deep ball or two, or another Florida-esque stinker of a performance if the Tide can slow the Vols’ run game and the passing game remains useless.
Less than a week to find out. Buy those cigars this week. Go Vols!