Did any position unit perform well for Tennessee Football Saturday as the Vols lost 38-10 to the Georgia Bulldogs? Well, some actually did. It wasn’t enough to overcome how poor other groups were, but there were still some positives in the game for Rocky Top. Here is a look at our grades for every UT position group in the team’s loss to the UGA Dawgs.
There’s no way around it. Joe Milton III has what may have been his worst game as a Vol. The only reason this isn’t an F is that he didn’t turn it over. However, he was 17-of-30 for 147 yards and no touchdowns, and he overthrew two touchdown passes, another easy third-down conversion and didn’t even see another wide-open touchdown he had. It was just a bad day.
Running back: B-
Jaylen Wright’s 75-yard touchdown run alone pushed this to an above average grade. However, outside of that play, the Vols had 19 carries for 60 yards. Dylan Sampson may have missed a touchdown as well due to poor vision and not cutting inside on a play. Since UT did average over five yards a carry, though, thanks to that Wright play, the group is in the B range.
Wide receiver: D+
There weren’t a lot of opportunities for Tennessee Football at the receiver spot, but even when there were, they made mistakes. Squirrel White got blown up on a block on one well-called screen, he then failed to convert an easy first down with the ball in open space, and he and Ramel Keyton each had bad drops in the game.
Tight end: C
You could maybe give this an incomplete. McCallan Castles did have two catches for 21 yards, and Jacob Warren was able to haul in an eight-yard grab, but for the most part, the Vols weren’t able to get the tight ends involved the way they usually do. The catches were one thing, but pass blocking on the outside was an issue as a whole, which warrants this average grade.
Offensive line: D
What did you expect. The Vols lost Gerald Mincey and John Campbell Jr. at tackle beforehand, and they then lost Dayne Davis and Javontez Spraggins in the game. That one 75-yard run was all this unit had to hang its hat on, but for the most part, it struggled throughout, and that was going to be the case all along given the injuries.
Defensive tackle: B+
Omarr Norman-Lott, Omari Thomas and Elijah Simmons actually did a really good job in the game, getting the push necessary to help Tennessee Football stop the run. There’s a reason Georgia averaged under four yards a carry on the day, and it had everything to do with this unit up front actually playing well enough to stop the run game.
Defensive end: A-
Sticking with the defensive pressure, Tyler Baron and James Pearce Jr. stayed home on run plays, and they in turn with the defensive tackles made the defensive line the one clear bright spot of the game. Baron indeed had a tackle for a loss, and a lot of the reason they didn’t rack up more sacks had to do with the scheme of the game, which didn’t call for as many blitzes.
Aaron Beasley was a part of the elite pressure put on by the defensive line, as he had a sack, two tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery. However, Elijah Herring was awful once again, and Jeremiah Telander wasn’t much better, so middle linebacker play alone nearly pushed this to a below average grade. Beasley kept it afloat.
Carson Beck looked like a Heisman contender despite Ladd McConkey not being in the game. Again, though, what did you expect? Tennessee Football was without Kamal Hadden. Then Wesley Walker and Tamarion McDonald were hurt in this game, and Jourdan Thomas, Walker’s backup, got hurt in the first quarter. As a result, poor play was obviously going to happen.
Kicking game: D+
Jackson Ross averaged 40 yards a punt and didn’t pin any inside the 20. Charles Campbell missed a field goal. To be fair, it was a 55-yarder, which we can’t hold against college kickers, and he made a 37-yarder, but that wasn’t enough to outweigh the failures that Ross put on display in this one. Since there were no returns in the game for UT, this was the only aspect of special teams to grade.