IT's Take: Arkansas State

Tennessee improved to 2-0, beating a good Arkansas State team that is picked at the top of the Sun Belt. Get the InsideTennessee staff opinions on what we thought of todays contest.

PARKER

Danny Parker's thoughts

Similar to last week, it's hard to find too much to poke at with a double-digit victory for a Tennessee team counting on so very many first-season players.

With the heat and humidity and for the two teams to play a combined 161 plays from scrimmage with minimal cramping was most impressive and spoke to the conditioning coaches' work. Jalen Hurd's net of 3.6 yards per carry doesn't look like much but the freshman was handed the ball several times in the fourth quarter with the Red Wolves knowing exactly what was coming. Team-wise, the Vols have now netted a combined 278 yards on 84 attempts for an average of 3.3 yards per carry in their 2-0 start. That number may be good enough with this passing attack if they can repeat it against two top 10 opponents on the horizon.

Justin Worley could stand to get rid of the football quicker and needs to hit on the deep ball more often when his targets separate, but he's undoubtedly playing the best football of his life.

The potential injuries to receiver Von Pearson and tight end Ethan Wolf, both former Scout four-star prospects, could be quite decimating for an already thin roster as both start and both were showing production.

Owen Williams showed signs of being a dependable defensive tackle to spell Danny O'Brien or Jordan Williams. Todd Kelly Jr. appears to have already take over a starting spot on the back end, which was just a matter of time.

George Bullock swung his leg for what I believe was his first time ever for the Vols and boomed his first of seven kickoffs (averaged 61.3). That takes some pressure off Aaron Medley, who missed from 35 yards in the fourth quarter. That's two misses in two games. Tennessee can't afford to miss kicks with the schedule that's fast approaching, so we'll see if the Lewisburg native has the wide rights out of his system.

GRADES

Defense —B

Offense — B-

Special teams — B-

MOORE

Randy Moore's thoughts

Tennessee got just what it needed in Game 2 versus Arkansas State. The Red Wolves provided a stern enough challenge to push the Vols, forcing Tennessee to make some clutch plays to seal a 34-19 victory.

Jalen Hurd finally got some holes and showed why he was one of America’s elite running back prospects last winter by rushing 23 times for 83 yards. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers he can put up once he starts getting some running room from his offensive line.

Justin Worley was facing a much better secondary than he did in Game 1, yet he posted reasonably similar numbers – 23 completions in 38 attempts for 247 yards and two touchdowns. All told, Tennessee had 247 passing yards and 168 rushing yards for 415 total yards. That’s pretty good against a solid Arkansas State defense.

I thought Tennessee’s defense did an outstanding job of containing Fredi Knighten, who appears to be a much more elusive QB than the more heralded Chuckie Keeton was six days earlier. The difference in quickness and recovery speed on UT’s defense is dramatic. Plays that would’ve gone for 30 yards last year got 10 yards today.

Aaron Medley missed a 35-yard field goal but hit a couple. That’s what you get with freshman kickers – inconsistency. Punter Matt Darr was solid, and the coverage units were OK for the most part.

Overall, the Vols were not dazzling in any area but they exhbited a workmanlike efficiency that shows some maturity for a team so reliant on freshmen.

GRADES

Defense —B

Offense —B-

Special teams — B-

WOODWARD

Josh Woodward's thoughts

Well this is what I expected this week from Tennessee, it is extremely hard to get up for a Sun Belt team after stopping a Mountain West team only 6 days ago. This team shouldn't have a problem next week getting up for Oklahoma.

Offensively Tennessee had its moments, Worley has been efficient in the passing game, but the holes by the offensive line in the running game have been small. I do believe that Arkansas State had a better defensive front than Utah State. Marquez North has to get more touches, but I understand they are trying to get the young guys some more touches. Ethan Wolf has really looked good, he was able to walk off the field after the game without any help.

Defensively the Vols are improved, for the second week in a they showed impressive speed on defense. They held a good Arkansas State team to 4 of 17 on third downs. They were able to corral the quarterback for most of the game. The amount of players they are getting into the game is going to be important for later in the year.

Special Teams is probably the biggest disappointment on this Saturday giving up a couple of big returns an allowing the fake punt for a huge first down. Bullock kicked his first kick off into the end zone which was impressive, Medley was 1 for 2 on field goals. They need all around improvement on special teams.

GRADES

Defense —B

Offense —C

Special teams —D


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