Tennessee football fell 36-7 to Missouri, exhausting any chance at winning the SEC East. The Vols are now slotted to finish third in the division at the highest.
The Vols got an efficient first half from Joe Milton III, albeit not the best.
Milton completed 12-of-13 passes for 166 yards, highlighted by a 46-yard bomb to Dont’e Thornton Jr. Unfortunately, Milton doesn’t play defense.
Tennessee ran just three plays in the first quarter, setting the trend for the game. Missouri held the ball for almost 40 minutes of game time on Saturday.
“You didn’t get the ball that much, and as an offense and as our offense, since we’re a fast-paced offense — we want to be able to get the ball and keep going,” Milton said. “But at the same time, based off their offense, they held the ball, ran the ball a lot more and actually got yards off it. So we had to just sit right there and wait our turn.”
Missouri played keep away, and they played it successfully. The Tigers ran for 255 yards and threw for 275 yards. They converted 11-of-17 third downs.
In the 20 minutes that Milton was on the field, the Thronton touchdown was the only points the Vols found.
“I mean, mistakes happen,” Milton said. “You’ve just got to be able to correct them. You’ve got to be able to correct them fast, especially in games like this, especially when you’ve got an offense that has a great running back and great quarterback and some guys that’s on the outside that’ll make plays. You’ve got to be able to flush it and refocus and get ready for your opportunity to show up.”
Milton finished the game 22-of-34 with a pick-six. He played catchup for most of the night, which likely led to the late-game interception.
He said the Tigers were in Cover 4 on the interception, and he should “just take care of the ball.”
“You’ve just got to take what the game gives you,” Milton said. “Control the controllables. If their offense is out there still getting first downs, then you’ve got to try to figure out what we need to do on offense so we can get ourselves going, too.”
Tennessee couldn’t find an offensive answer, putting up the lowest point total of the Josh Heupel era at Tennessee. The failure to execute the offense, and finish drives, reminded Milton of the Florida game.
“Shooting ourselves in the foot,” Milton said. “Pretty much the same thing that happened in the Florida game. Just all the self-inflicted wounds. False starts, holdings, things like that can kill a drive. That’s what happened.”
Tennessee had two fumbles, one from Milton and one from Wright, go the Tigers’ way. There’s no time to dwell on the loss with Georgia coming to town next week.
Milton said the Vols have to find the line between wiping the loss, but also learning from it.
“You kind of want to do both,” Milton said. “You’re kind of in the middle of both. You want to wipe it clean, but also you know next week is very important as well, too. Just like this week, want to be able to go there and flush it.
Once you get off that plane, it’s a whole new week coming, so be ready to flush it and get ready for next week.”