InsideTennessee's staff takes a look at the Vols' 59-30 win over Bowling Green on Saturday.
Danny Parker's Take
It took 5 hours, 4 minutes and 172 plays but Tennessee's offense carried it to a 59-30 win over two-time MAC runner-up Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon. My 26-point difference between the two wasn't perfect, but I was way off (36-10) on total points.
The Big Orange was 11 yards away from having three 100-yard rushers. Joshua Dobbs tossed a pair of touchdowns with 205 yards on just 22 attempts with no interceptions. Of the eight touchdown drives the Volunteers had, the average length of time needed was 1:52. All that was without junior wide receiver Marquez North and heralded freshman Preston Williams catching a single pass between them.
Mike DeBoard, impressive sir.
The weapons with which the Vols' new offensive coordinator has to work are as plentiful as the supply of orange Dri-Fit clothing at Nissan Stadium amongst a crowd of 61,323.
Aaron Medley missing a 29- and 42-yard field goal wasn't exactly what the doctor ordered, but he did make eight extra points and had solid depth on most of his kickoffs. He'll need to improve. Trevor Daniel averaged 47 yards per punt in his collegiate debut, which impressed me for a redshirt sophomore walk-on that's been in the attic waiting behind Matt Darr and Michael Palardy.
Stop reading now if you want to concentrate on the positives.
The tempo with which the Falcons played revealed stress points in the not-so-impressive Tennessee defense. They netted just 3.6 yards per carry with few splash plays on the ground. The damage was done against the Vols' passing defense, which has a long, long way to go before it's going to slow teams enough to get to the fanbase's "9-3 or better" expectations.
"Where's No. 7? OK. Throwing it at No. 12 or 13."
"First down Bowling Green."
The formula was simple — and it worked.
Butch Jones cautioned not to point all fingers at the secondary and that the pass rush is partially to blame. While he is part right (and Bowling Green did make plays), the secondary and linebackers must improve by leaps and bounds. The looked like Georgia's defense the year before Jeremy Pruitt arrived.
Raise your hand if you didn't get to play. While rumors were that as many as 22 true freshmen could see the field this year, 15 did so Saturday, including Kahlil McKenzie who saw mere mop-up snaps late. We also have visual proof that Dontavius Blair is not dead and Kyle Phillips looks the part.
Cory Gunkel's Take
Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson slipped and squirmed out of a collapsing pocket seemingly at will Saturday, dicing up Tennessee's secondary for 424 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson torched the Vols' secondary, specifically picking on Malik Foreman and Emmanuel Moseley, but even then it wasn't enough.
Team 119 overcame both Johnson's aerial attack and a one-hour and 20-minute lightning delay to dispatch of Bowling Green. While the offense — specifically the ground game — matched the Falcons on every possession and then some, the return game with Cameron Sutton deserves just as much credit.
Sutton had punt returns of 47, 34 and 21 yards to notch a career-high 102 total return yards on the day. The standout cornerback put Tennessee in great field position all night and really took the life out of Bowling Green when it began to feel life.
The Vols out-Dino Babers'd Dino Babers himself, running a high tempo attack that spread the ball around, utilized quarterback Josh Dobbs in the read option and pounded the ball with Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd.
For as much scorn as the secondary will surely receive, the offense deserves the same in praise. The Vols scampered for 399 yards and nearly had three 100-yard rushers. That just doesn't happen every day, especially against a seasoned Falcon team with plenty of experience on that side of the ball.
At the end of the day, Tennessee's explosive offense and (mostly) successful special teams play overcame some defensive woes.
Josh Woodward's Take
What a great venue to start the season off for Tennessee. Big Orange fans flocked to Nashville to see the beat down of Bowling Green. The only problem? Bowling Green had a really great offense that kept them in the game all day.
Offensively, Tennessee looked sharped for most of the game. I was really impressed with Joshua Dobbs and his reads. The receiving corps looked solid and Ethan Wolf had a great game. Alvin Kamara is as good as advertised and put a sick move on a corner to score a touchdown. Jalen Hurd has added some good muscle and carried defenders on his back for most of the day. The offensive line wasn't really challenged but only one bust I noticed, which led to a sack. They will be challenged next week against Oklahoma.
The defense struggled all game long. The Bowling Green offense could flat out throw it and picked on Emmanuel Moseley for most of the game. Granted Tennessee didn't blitz for most of the game, but the lack of defensive pressure and coverage in the secondary is concerning. I don't think it is time to panic yet. Bowling Green has an outstanding offense, so this one is hard to read.Tennessee also wants to remain vanilla before the Oklahoma game next weekend. The loss of Willie Martinez in the booth is hurting more than most think, as he is the trusted eyes for John Jancek. There should be some great film to watch and make adjustments with before next weekend.
What a day for special teams as Cameron Sutton and Evan Berry kept the Vols with a short field for most of the contest. You can really see the improved team speed on special teams. Aaron Medley had two missed field goals, one was a bad shank, but his kickoffs looked good and coverage was great. Hopefully Medley got it out of the way for the season. Punter Trevor Daniel had a nice placement punt inside the ten yard line and his longest punt went for 61 yards.