Outside of a series of miscues in the first half, Tennessee Football was pretty dominant agains the Virginia Cavaliers. Who were the best performers for the Vols in the game? Let’s take a look here. These were the torchbearers for Rocky Top in UT’s 49-13 season-opening win against the UVA Cavs in Nashville, Tenn., at Nissan Stadium.
5. Aaron Beasley
Playing in his more natural position at weakside linebacker, Aaron Beasley was very effective playing opposite BYU transfer Keenan Pili. Beasley broke up two passes and had a tackle for a loss. Although he only had three tackles in the game, and just one was solo, he was a factor in multiple ways. A former safety, he finally looked like himself in pass coverage at linebacker this game.
4. Dylan Sampson
What else can you say about four total touchdowns? Dylan Sampson was generating tons of offseason hype for Tennessee Football, and he lived up to it in this one, gaining 52 yards on the ground with three scores and catching a nine-yard TD pass. Even more impressive was him being used on and converting short-yardage plays despite being an all-purpose back.
3. Joe Milton III
There was one drive in which Joe Milton III missed on three straight throws, and he had one questionable throw into double-coverage. However, Milton completed 21 of 30 passes for 201 yards, two touchdowns and no picks, and he ran for 33 yards and two more TDs. If not for a Ramel Keyton drop, he’d have over 260 yards and five total TDs.
2. Ollie Lane
Javontez Spraggins and Andrej Karic deserve shoutouts. The interior of the offensive line is why Tennessee Football had 287 yards on the ground, led by Jaylen Wright with 12 carries for 115 yards. Ollie Lane deserves the most credit, though. Filling in for Cooper Mays at center, Lane was superb on snaps and his blocks. He did everything right and anchored a group that really made the run game go.
1. Omari Thomas
James Pearce Jr. was a breakout star with two sacks. Tyler Baron had two sacks and two and a half tackles for a loss. UT had four sacks and 11 tackles for a loss on the day. However, the interior of the defensive line made that go, and Omari Thomas was the star there. Thomas had three tackles, two solo and one and a half tackles for a loss. He got the pushes to free up the edge rushers.