Tennessee rolled this afternoon in Nashville, beating the Virginia Cavaliers 49-13. The Volunteers covered the four-touchdown spread, but it wasn’t all pretty. Josh Heupel will have plenty to clean up, but at the end of the day, it turned into the dominant performance that everyone was expecting.
A quick start for Tennessee quickly turned sloppy this afternoon in Nashville. The Volunteers beat up Virginia on the ground on the first drive of the game, and Joe Milton capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to Dylan Sampson.
And then things stalled. A huge dropped touchdown pass from Ramel Keyton, a muffed punt and an inconsistent Milton had the Volunteers stuck on 7-0. Fortunately, the Tennessee defense showed up in a big way. The Vols stuffed Virginia time and time again, keeping the Cavaliers offense bottled for the majority of the first half.
Finally, Tennessee put something together. The rushing attack was stout all day, and Jaylen Wright led the way. Dylan Sampson pushed in for his second touchdown of the day to make it 14-0.
Virginia hit a couple of big pass plays to finally get on the board, but it was only three points. Milton and the rushing attack quickly worked down the field to score again right before the half to make it 21-3.
The Tennessee momentum continued out of halftime. Squirrel White got involved in the short game, while the rushing attack kept pumping. Joe Milton and Dylan Sampson both found the endzone again to make it 35-3.
It took three quarters, but Virginia finally found the endzone. Tony Muskett engineered a good looking drive as the Tennessee defense seemed to fall asleep. 35-10 was our new score, but it didn’t last long. Milton fired away to Jacob Warren on third down for six — an 11 yard touchdown pass to move the score to 42-10.
Nico Iamaleava would enter the game, and Dylan Sampson would score one more time to cap it off. That was Sampson’s fourth touchdown of the day.
Joe Milton capped the first drive with a checkdown touchdown pass to Dylan Sampson.
Ramel Keyton with a big, big early drop.
Joe Milton can LAUNCH it— On3 (@On3sports) September 2, 2023
But the receiver couldn’t finish pic.twitter.com/PjKLb8cVPb
Milton with the easy score to move to 28-3.
Milton to Jacob Warren for six.
It wasn’t all pretty today from Tennessee, despite the score. The first and second quarters were shaky, as we saw the old Milton for a few drives. They did get it together, however, thanks in large part to a dominant defense and a strong running game. It’s still somewhat concerning to see Milton misfire like he did so much in the first half.
The big takeaway from me was this front seven. What a dominant performance from that group, just completely shutting down Virginia. The Cavaliers were held to negative rushing yards for much of the day, completely overwhelmed by Tennessee’s size up front. That statement was true on the other side of the ball too, despite the injury to Cooper Mays.
There’s plenty to clean up — especially on special teams — but the good news is that they’ve got two weeks to do it before rolling into Gainesville.