Yes, it was a win, but it wasn’t a pretty game by any means. It began with a weather delay, an inauspicious start to the meeting between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Austin Peay Governors.What should have been an easy rout by the No. 9 team in the nation was plagued by offensive struggles.
“The weather delay didn’t really help any,” Tennessee center Cooper Mays said during the Vol Report. “Everybody’s ready to go play and then, boom, you have a 30-minute delay on your game.”
Did a half-hour delay before the game began explain the sluggishness of the offense when the Vols were struggling to complete a pass? Maybe, suggests Mays.
“It wasn’t like we were doing anything egregiously bad and we weren’t doing anything great,” Mays said. “It just seemed like we were a little bit out of sync.”
Though a Tennessee victory was never really in doubt, Austin Peay came to play. The Govs were a team with nothing to lose and no expectations to win. The Govs’ offense pulled out everything in their arsenal against the Vols.
“They used their wide receivers to throw the ball, the double pass. I think they used that twice,” Mays said. “They were doing a lot of different stuff. They came to play and came to win.”
“It wasn’t like they were laying down and just letting us have it.”
So, what went right against the Govs? For Mays, it was all about Tennessee’s defense.
“I think the defense played extremely, extremely well,” Mays said “I think they were hitting on all cylinders. For the most part of the game the defense was very, very dominant.”
The Vols’ strong defensive showing wasn’t a surprise to Mays. According to him, they had been gelling as a unit for some time. It was back at preseason camp when Mays’ noticed the defense was really coming together.
“They play very vertical and cause a lot of disruption,” Mays said. “They were just uber talented.”
Then, Mays added, “I’ve played a lot of good defenses in the SEC… and I know that since I’ve been in college, they’re one of the better D-lines and front sevens that I’ve faced. Our whole philosophy on defense is just to make disruption and cause havoc and they do that.”
Of course, a win is a win, thanks in part to the Vols’ defense that weathered the storm. The offense will have to regroup if Tennessee wants to have a stronger showing next week against Florida in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Hopefully, Mays will be back on the field to face the Gators and add some much needed consistency to the Vols’ offense.