If there are any problems with Tennessee’s football program, the Vols are trying to quickly nip it in the bud.
Tennessee’s players held a meeting on Sunday with no coaches present to address the Vols’ lackluster performance against Austin Peay on Saturday, per a source close to the program. The Vols beat the Governors 30-13 but only led the FCS school 13-6 at halftime before eventually pulling away in the second half. Tennessee was a 48 point favorite before kickoff, which was delayed by weather for 30 minutes.
The Vols’ passing attack was the overwhelming issue early in the game as Milton completed just one of his first eight passes against the Govs. Of the incompletions, there was certainly a debate as to whether the passes were off target or dropped by Milton’s intended receivers. Nevertheless, Milton took the blame in the meeting, per the source who spoke with Off The Hook Sports.
The message of the meeting also included a call to action. Tennessee’s players discussed that it’s time to amp things up following a week of practice that didn’t have the intensity and focus that the Vols were accustomed to leading up to the Austin Peay game.
Milton ended the game with a strong stat line. He completed 21-of-33 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball three times for seven yards including a touchdown. The Vols were never at risk of losing the game. However, it was an odd afternoon for Tennessee’s offense, which has been so explosive for most of the past calendar year. Given the opponent, the Vols were expected to play at a much higher level in their home opener at Neyland Stadium.
Things get tougher this week. The Vols travel to Florida to play the Gators in both teams’ first SEC game of the season. Florida is 1-1 after after a 49-7 win over McNeese State on Saturday. The Gators opened the season with a 24-11 loss to then-No. 14 Utah. Tennessee is an early -8.5 favorite to beat the Gators in Gainesville.
Tennessee is 2-0 after the win against Austin Peay and a season-opening 49-13 win against Virginia. The Vols are currently ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll, dropping two spots after the Austin Peay game. Tennessee is still ranked No. 9 in the AFCA Coaches Poll.