Despite a very difficult year, Tennessee Football was able to close out the regular season on a high note, dominating the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Vols finished the year 8-4 in the process and likely assured that they would finish the regular season at least ranked in the top. Here are five takeaways from UT’s Senior Day victory.
It really was Senior Day…on offense.
Joe Milton III was the story as he had six total touchdowns and nearly 400 total yards, but Tennessee Football seniors out of eligibility next year in general were the stars on offense. Ramel Keyton had two touchdowns and over 100 yards receiving. Jacob Warren had a touchdown and over 80 yards receiving. Ollie Lane stepped in at center and paved the way for over 100 yards on the ground.
A slow start did not cause Tennessee Football to panic.
After the Vols went up 7-0 with a touchdown on their opening drive, Clark Lea and Vandy pulled out all the stops. A drive full of trick plays allowed them to respond and tie it up. Then UT had to punt on its next two drives, and you had feeling this would be another ugly affair. However, the defense stiffened, and then the offense got going, scoring four touchdowns and a field goal over the next six drives.
Awful officiating led to chippiness.
In the second quarter, the officials called two dead-ball penalties with Vandy on offense but didn’t blow the whistle, so Tennessee Football hit Commodores quarterback A.J. Swann late twice, causing Clark Lea to go off on the officials. Vandy players then got mad and took it out on the Vols, and a near-brawl broke out. The anger was understandable, but it was all due to refs not blowing whistles when they should.
Pride was on display for Tennessee Football.
Feel however you want to about Milton and the seniors, but it was clearly important for Josh Heupel and co. to give them a proper sendoff. The underclassmen did that too, and everybody stepped up. Sure, it was only against Vanderbilt, but given how the season went, particularly the last two weeks Tennessee Football could have thrown in the towel. They didn’t.
Nico Iamaleava showed more development.
Once again, Tennessee Football was able to get Nico Iamaleava into the game late, and once again, he showed even more development. Iamaleava finished 9-of-12 for 66 yards and had two carries for 15 yards. Although Heupel brought Gaston Moore for the final UT offensive drive of the game against Vandy, or on the last couple plays, Iamaleava showed how good he can be in the future.