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Tennessee football: Rapid reactions from Vols’ 65-24 win vs. UT-Martin

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Offense didn’t let up for Tennessee football.

How did Tennessee football follow scoring the most points against the Alabama Crimson Tide since 1907? Well, they scored the same number of points in the first half of the next week’s game against the UT-Martin Skyhawks to celebrate homecoming.

Scoring on their first eight possessions, nine if you don’t count the drive at the end of the first half, Tennessee football set a school record with 52 points in the first half en route to 65 on the day, surpassing the 49 they scored in 2000 against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. They gained 693 yards of total offense.

Hendon Hooker kept up his Heisman campaign.

You always wonder if a quarterback in the Heisman race will be able to pad his stats enough when blowing out an FCS program. That wasn’t the case for Hendon Hooker against the UT-Martin Skyhawks Saturday. He didn’t even finish the first half but had 276 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another 28 yards.

Oh, and he went back to not throwing any interceptions after that one miscue last week. You can’t really complain about over 300 total yards and three touchdowns. Hooker now has 2,093 passing yards and 18 passing touchdowns with just one interception. He has 2,408 total yards and 21 total touchdowns.

Dave Hooker and Caleb Calhoun break down the Vols’ 65-24 win against UT-Martin

Vols had a 2-0 turnover margin in the first half.

This wasn’t a guarantee. UT-Martin came in with a plus-seven turnover margin, top 10 in FCS play. They also came in having intercepted 11 passes, which was top 10 as well. Fortunately for the Vols, they are also good at taking care of the ball.

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On Saturday, Tennessee football came away with the first interception, picking off Dresser Winn as the Skyhawks drove deep into UT territory trailing only 14-7. Later, down 24-7, Sam Franklin then had a fumble, which the Vols recovered. With no picks from Hooker, this helped break it open.

Jalin Hyatt provided an encore.

Part of Hooker keeping up his Heisman campaign was Jalin Hyatt stepping up once again. To be fair, Hyatt and Ramel Keyton both stepped up without Cedric Tillman. Keyton had five catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns, and he was a yard short of three.

However, Hyatt caught the first big gain of the day, a 44-yard reception. He then went off and finished with seven catches for 177 yards and a touchdown. The final touchdown before he went out was a trick pass, leading to our next reaction.

Princeton Fant was responsible for three touchdowns.

Perhaps Josh Heupel should have saved one of Princeton Fant’s touchdowns. It was the final touchdown pass to Hyatt. Heupel called a trick play with Joe Milton III in the game, as Milton threw a backwards pass to Fant, and Fant then hit Hyatt for a 66-yard score.

In addition to that play, Fant ran for two other touchdowns after Hendon Hooker got under center, building off what the Vols did last week when they got in the I against Alabama. Fant had a 66-yard touchdown pass, two carries for 12 yards and two touchdowns, and a 17-yard catch.

Pass defense still had issues.

If there’s one thing to criticize about the game, Tennessee football still had some issues with its pass defense. The Vols did force a three-and-out on their first drive, but then Dresser Winn drove the ball down the field for a score and almost got another one before throwing a pick.

Winn finished the game with 301 passing yards. He actually threw for 145 yards in the first half. It didn’t help that Brandon Turnage got hurt early when the Vols were already so short-handed in the secondary, but at some point, this is going to come back to bite them.

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