Danny Parker's thoughtsSeveral things that Tennessee fans need to come to grips with before the schedule cranks up a notch with at least two top 10 teams on the horizon.
The Volunteers offensive line is the worst the program has had this century. Without blocks on the perimeter, the passing game is going to struggle considerably because Justin Worley isn't great with the deep ball. The ground game isn't going to be even average by Tennessee standards at any point this season. Depth behind the starters on the defensive side is thin and loaded with teenagers.
Accept the all of that and you're on your way to being a better Tennessee fan.
On to the positive.
Nine different Vols caught passes. Jalen Hurd and Marlin Lane combined for two carries, which saves both for the grind of what's left. Nathan Peterman threw five passes and didn't get concussed on top of netting 26 yards in spite of another offensive line bust resulting in a loss. The four defensive ends that saw a majority of the action were productive. Aaron Medley made 7 of 8 kicks and had touchbacks in 7 of 8 attempts. Matt Darr average 50 yards per punt.
Derrell Scott getting into the game early was a focus and the freshman ran for 42 yards on just nine attempts, which is a solid output considering he hadn't played in a game since a state championship last December.
The tight ends must have more targets and backs must flair out to give quarterbacks a safety valve when plays break down. Vols receivers aren't doing a great job of coming back to the passer when he's flushed from the pocket.
The game should have been put away long before the third quarter when a Southeastern Conference school is hosting an FCS school in front of 93,000-plus.
Six tackles for loss, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery were all solid numbers for a Tennessee defense that surrendered just 201 total to its FCS visitor from down Interstate-75.
Have to think several players played their last non-special teams snaps in a Tennessee uniform Saturday. With another large recruiting class on its way with the 2015 group and no place to put many of them, room must be made.
Long way to go for Tennessee—especially offensively—if its even going to keep the game close versus Ole Miss next week and Alabama the following week.
Defense — B
Special teams —A
Randy Moore's thoughts
Tennessee deserves some credit for its beat-down of Chattanooga Saturday at Neyland Stadium. I thought the Vols would be terribly flat after their gut-wrenching 10-9 loss to Florida a week earlier. Tennessee wasn’t exactly impressive but the Vols were methodical in prevailing 45-10.
I figured the Big Orange would work on its running game against the Mocs but that didn’t happen. Jalen Hurd carried just twice for 7 yards and Marlin Lane (slowed by a sore ankle) never saw the field. Backups Devrin Young, Derrell Scott and Justus Pickett ran OK but didn’t excite anyone.
Justin Worley completed 19 of 24 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns but lost a fumble and was sacked five times. He scored on keeps of 8 and 1 yard. Backup Nathan Peterman had a nifty 14-yard scoring burst, giving Vol QBs three rushing TDs on the day.
Tennessee’s defense was stout, as usual. UTC didn’t get its initial first down until just before halftime. The Vols lost their shutout due to the Worley fumble that gave Chattanooga possession at the Vol 26-yard line and led to a second-quarter field goal. UTC added a TD with 6:38 left against mostly Vol reserves. Justin Coleman had a 47-yard interception return.
Aaron Medley hit a 25-yard field goal, then missed a 42-yarder, snapping a string of seven makes in a row. Matt Darr punted exceptionally well, and the return teams looked good. Evan Berry had an electrifying 68-yard kickoff return and would’ve scored if he hadn’t tripped over one of his own blockers. Cam Sutton had a 42-yard punt return.
All in all, it was a solid performance against an inferior foe.
Defense — B
Offense — C
Special teams —A-
Steven Peake's thoughts
In between a heartbreaking loss to the Florida Gators and a tough trip to Oxford next Saturday, the Volunteers were able to stay focused against one of the best FCS teams in the nation.
Ranked 13th in the Football Championship Series, the Fightin' Mocs of Chattanooga had not given up more than 24 points all season, albeit to much weaker opponents than the team they faced today. The visiting fans came into Neyland with some hope but Tennessee did not provide the let down the they were hoping for. The Vols took advantage of their week off from SEC action to not only get one game closer to bowl eligibility but improve in some areas.
Tennessee put up the most points since Sept. 7 of last year when they scored 52 against Western Kentucky. The offense stalled a few times but overall was very impressive behind quarterback Justin Worley. The senior was responsible for five touchdowns, two of which were rushing.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention Nate Peterman, who had his first career touchdown on a 14-yard scamper in the fourth.
Out of the three drives that ended with one of Worley's three touchdown passes, the most impressive came in the closing seconds of the first half. After a big catch from Ethan Wolf, a 15-yard run from Derrell Scott and a couple of receptions from Jason Croom. Worley found Johnathon Johnson on an out route in the end zone to cap off an eight-play, 71-yard drive that started with just over two minutes to play in the half.
Even with lighting up the scoreboard for 45 points there were still a few negatives. The offensive line allowed Chattanooga to sack Worley five times. The Vols were held to just 2.9 yards per carry and got into many third-and-mediums early on forcing themselves to have to come up with a big play to extend drives. Worley was able to make those plays three times in the first two drives.
Again, not enough can be said about the defense. They held Chattanooga without a first down through the first five drives of the game and forced a fumble that led to a Vols field goal. It was one of the three turnovers the Volunteers forced.
Yes, it's an opponent that competes in a lower division but Chattanooga's Jacob Huesman is not a bad quarterback. The Mocs have been averaging 292 yards per game. While no one expected Chattanooga to score a lot of points, to see them struggle to move the ball at all was another example of how stout this Tennessee defense can be.
The special teams could have and probably should have been responsible for six points when Evan Berry nearly took the opening kick of the second half to the house. Of course, in a way, they were responsible for two touchdowns as Berry's return set up the Worley to Johnson touchdown pass and the fumble recovery, which led to Peterman's rushing score.
A missed Medley field goal is all that kept the special teams from having a perfect day.
After being held to just nine points and zero touchdowns last week, today's game is just what Tennessee needed and as coach Butch Jones stated, his team handled it with a very business-like approach to get to 3-3.
Defense — A+
Offense — B+
Special teams —A
Josh Woodward's thoughts
Tennessee did what it had to do today, the Big Orange just outmanned Chattanooga. I would classify this as an ugly win.
Offensively the line is being exposed. Every team in the country has their number. Tennessee will have to continue to make those short throws to keep Worley out of trouble. Justin Worley played well, but still needs to get rid of the ball just a smidge sooner. The Vols rested Jalen Hurd in this game, but it is obvious he is the Vols best back. It was good to get some of the young wide receivers into the game.
Defensively the Vols were great, the first team dominated the game an it was never close. Derek Barnett is a likely freshman All-SEC or All-American. A.J. Johnson continues to play well. Really Chattanooga could pressure the secondary so Justin Coleman was the lone benefactor with his interception.
Special teams has improved and isn't the liability I thought it would be this season. Matt Darr punted well. Aaron Medley missed a field goal, but his kickoffs looked great. They will need to be on point next week in Oxford for the Vols to have a chance.
Butch Jones postgame presser
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