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Tennessee Football: Five takeaways from Vols 49-13 season-opening win vs. Virginia

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Despite a slow start for Tennessee Football, the Vols were able to get things rolling late in the second quarter, and they cruised to a win against the Virginia Cavaliers in Nashville, Tenn., at Nissan Stadium to improve to 1-0 to kick off Josh Heupel’s third season. Here are five takeaways from the game.

Early Tennessee Football miscues kept it close

Tennessee Football scored on its first drive. However, the Vols then failed on a 4th and 1 running play their next drive. Ramel Keyton dropped a wide open touchdown pass on the next drive. Then Dee Williams fumbled a punt. UT did score on the final two drives of the first half, though and the first drives two drives of the second half, but they can’t afford miscues like that in SEC play.

Rush defense was superb…except for one drive

You could theoretically say the entire Tennessee Football defense played well, but it started with the stunts and blitz packages Tim Banks dialed up. Outside of one drive in the third quarter, the UVA Cavs were awful on the ground, and the Vols had four sacks, two from James Pearce Jr. and two from Tyler Baron. That kept the Vols in control when they were messing up early.

Joe Milton accuracy relatively fine

Outside of that one drive in which he missed on three throws and a dangerous throw early over the middle, Joe Milton III was what he needed to be. He finished 21-of-30 for 201 yards, two touchdowns and no picks while rushing nine times for 33 yards and two more scores. If not for that Keyton drop, he’d have around 300 total yards and five total touchdowns.

OL was a mixed bag for Tennessee Football

With Cooper Mays out and Tennessee Football replacing Darnell Wright and Jerome Carvin, the Vols entered this game with a lot of questions. They should be happy about how Ollie Lane stepped in at center for Mays, as that was a major concern. However, John Campbell Jr. was a major issue at left tackle. If they can’t fix that in two weeks, there could be a major issue.

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Vols now deep at RB

Last year, Tennessee Football had to run Princeton Fant up on short-yardage obvious run plays. Now, though, they can turn to Jabari Small or Jaylen Wright. In the offseason, Wright put on 15 pounds, and it shows. He had 12 carries for 115 yards, and Small had 13 carries for 67 yards. Dylan Sampson was the star, though, carrying it 13 times for 52 yards and scoring four total touchdowns.

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