It still wasn’t pretty, but Tennessee Football was able to rebound from its loss to the Florida Gators on the road and come away with its best looking win since the opener. The Vols beat the UTSA Roadrunners 45-14. Here are five things we learned from UT’s win on Rocky Top in its final game before beginning an SEC gauntlet.
Joe Milton III running changed Tennessee Football offense
On the first play of the game, Joe Milton III ran for an 81-yard touchdown. That changed the entire offense, as it forced the defense to completely adjust. As a result, Milton had more open deep shots, throwing for over 200 yards and two touchdowns, and the run game as a whole took off. With Dylan Sampson leading the way with over 130 yards, UT had over 300 yards on the ground.
Accuracy for Joe Milton still an issue
At the end of the first half, Milton had an elementary throw to make over the middle for a touchdown, and he missed it. Then, in the second half, he overthrew Squirrel White twice and Ramel Keyton once on clear touchdown shots. These are things that may never be corrected, but he’s got to do a better job of hitting those easy deep balls.
Pass blocking remains a MAJOR concern
Honestly, Milton didn’t struggle until after a hit he took thanks to Andrej Karic missing on a block in the first half. Tennessee Football still has issues blocking on the left side of the ball. Karic and Gerald Mincey locked that part down in the second half, but there was no real locking. John Campbell Jr. is the best option at left tackle. Left guard may not get fixed, though.
Open-field tackling has to improve
It wasn’t just a fluke play against Florida. The Vols have issues with open-field tackling. UTSA cut a 31-0 lead to 31-14 in the third quarter because UT’s secondary couldn’t tackle in the open field. Now, to be fair, Tim Banks’ defense isn’t designed for that, but basic football requires you to be able to tackle, and once again, the Vols are having issues.
Ball control is now a staple for Tennessee Football
After that touchdown drive by Milton to open the game, Tennessee Football had two nine-play drives. The Vols aren’t running the same offense they ran last year. Perhaps it’s due to Milton’s capabilities, but it’s clear ball control is a bigger factor for them this year. That’s fine, but they have to maintain their run game in SEC play.