Admit it. You were concerned. Earlier in the year, after looking impressive in their season-opening win against the Virginia Cavaliers, all the expectations were that Tennessee Football would once again have the offense that was on display Josh Heupel’s first two years on Rocky Top.
As we know, they then looked awful against the Austin Peay Governors, and so began a long stretch in which questions arose about whether or not Joe Milton III could do the job. Milton put those questions to rest last week, but then the questioned remain as to whether or not he could maintain the momentum.
Doing that would require blowing out a team and finally putting a game away early. In the first quarter of this game against the UConn Huskies, though, that was in doubt. Tennessee Football was clinging to a 7-3 lead, and Milton wasn’t looking great.
Sure, Jaylen Wright had an 82-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game. However, on the next drive, Milton missed an easy throw to McCallan Castles, which forced the Vols to punt. Then UConn drove down the field and hit a field goal to cut it to 7-3.
A collective fear gripped Neyland Stadium. Milton, Ramel Keyton and a brilliant Heupel play-call, though, put it all to rest. After Wright converted a 3rd and 1 with an eight-yard run, Heupel turned Milton and the passing game loose. With that came a busted coverage.
Keyton was wide open down the field, and Milton hit him easily for a score. That play wasn’t there against Austin Peay, and it’s exactly what the Vols needed to assure everybody they would put this game away easily. From there, they went on a roll, as that sparked three straight touchdown drives, and the defense then scored three straight TDs.
Thanks to that play, Tennessee Football players and fans were able to relax. They delivered the blowout everybody had been waiting for, and it allowed for Nico Iamaleava to come in early in the second half and finally show fans what he is capable of. That’s what everybody was waiting for.