Joe Milton displayed a new level of accuracy.
Questions about Joe Milton III’s accuracy were legitimate heading into this matchup. At least for one game, he was able to put those questions to rest. Milton completed 19 of 28 passes for 251 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He threw beautiful touchdown passes over the middle to Squirrel White and Bru McCoy and then hit Ramel Keyton for a bomb. If this carries into next year, he’ll start for Tennessee football. One of the receivers became a storyline on his own.
A new slot receiver emerged for Tennessee football.
What went unnoticed during Jalin Hyatt’s historic season with the Vols was how that tended to be a product of Josh Heupel’s system. Velus Jones Jr. became an NFL Draft pick playing in the slot the previous year. Well, a new slot receiver beyond Hyatt has emerged. Squirrel White caught nine passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. All the hype behind him is legitimate, and he should be a star next year.
Pass rush made a huge difference.
There was no Jeremy Banks, but the Vols brought tons of pressure, and the defensive line played with lots of aggression. The Vols finished with four sacks. Byron Young and Aaron Beasley each had two sacks. As a team this made a huge difference, but the Vols were helped by one factor related to Clemson.
Clemson hasn’t solved its quarterback issue.
One part of this game was how Tennessee football benefitted from Clemson’s issues with Cade Klubnik starting at quarterback. He was supposed to be the answer to D.J. Uiagalelei, but he had an awful game, completing just 30 of 54 passes with no touchdowns and two interceptions. A notable part of the game came at halftime. Inside the red zone with seconds left, Klubnik scrambled despite Clemson having no timeouts and cost them a chance at any points.
Josh Heupel switched up his strategy.
Everybody who follows Josh Heupel’s offense knows he wants to score fast. However, he switched up his style in this game, playing conservative until the fourth quarter. Then he broke it open. Heupel ran it 36 times and only threw it 28 times. It’s not like he doesn’t run the ball, but he stayed committed to it longer than usual. That paid off for Tennessee football in the end.