Tennessee overcame a tidal wave of Virginia Tech momentum after a sluggish season opener to take down the Hokies 45-24 in the Battle at Bristol on Saturday night.
It took winning one-on-one matchups all over the field, especially in the trenches, for the Volunteers to rally from 14 down against a team like Virginia Tech.
InsideTennessee takes a look at the individuals that saw their stock rise or fall after the 21-point win.
Jack Jones: Trailing 14-0 with a struggling offensive line for the second straight game, Butch Jones inserted Jones into the right guard positon. Tennessee proceeded to go on a 45-3 run afterward while Jones manned the right guard position for 6 touchdown drives. Butch Jones applauded the effort saying “that he earned the playing time in practice”. There had been some buzz about a potential red shirt year but that is well in the rear view mirror now.
Shy Tuttle: Making his first appearance since a season ending injury a year ago against Georgia, it didn’t take long to see Tuttle was ready to make his presence known. He didn’t light up the stat sheet with just two recorded tackles but he got a consistent push and clogged up the middle as well as showed great mobility chasing down a fourth quarter fumble in which he fought and won a battle for a loose ball.
Kendall Vickers: Playing perhaps his most productive game as a Vol, Vickers tallied 4 total stops and a sack which resulted in an 8-yard loss for the Hokies. Vickers is going to have to keep having games like this to hold on to that starting spot but so far he has shown he deserves to be the starter.
Jonathon Kongbo: The stat sheet doesn’t show it but Kongbo was constantly in the Hokie backfield and was certainly a disruptor. He made significant progress from the opener and appears to be more comfortable in just his second game as a Vol.
Jalen Reeves Maybin: Missing most of the opener with the targeting penalty, Maybin proved once again to be a stat stuffing machine. Tallying 13 total tackles with 1.5 for loss Maybin made up for lost time in the opener.
Micah Abernathy: The SEC defensive player of the week recovered three fumbles and has shown in two games he is a major factor in this defense. He has played every snap at safety after being in a battle for the starting spot in preseason camp.
Coleman Thomas: After a tough opener where an ankle injury was a factor, Thomas had another rough night. He was pulled when Jones was inserted into the game and Dylan Wiesman move over to center. Thomas may have found a more comfortable spot at right tackle in the second half.
Jashon Robertson: It might have been easier to just name the entire offensive line as a downgraded stock but Robertson had his share of issues in Bristol as well. He was badly beaten early in the game which resulted in a sack of Josh Dobbs. A near disaster was avoided when Dobbs side-stepped a would be sack when Robertson was beaten on a stunt on the Alvin Kamara touchdown reception.
Drew Richmond: Another rough night for another offensive lineman. Richmond was beat consistently by the speed rush and was eventually pulled from the lineup when Thomas moved over to tackle.
Justin Martin: Twice Martin put himself in very good position to break up passes on a one on one island but he failed to locate the football and was flagged both times for pass interference. Jones mentioned at his Monday press conference that Malik Foremen would get some reps at corner back which seems to suggest the staff isn’t happy with the cornerback spot opposite of Cam Sutton.
Todd Kelly Jr.: As a safety the 67-yard touch run in the first quarter can’t happen. Kelly took a poor angle on the play and simply didn’t have the speed to overcome that mistake. He did recover a fumble later in the game and made a few nice plays but giving up big plays like that shouldn’t happen for an experienced player.
Darrin Kirland Jr.: It’s probably not fair to downgrade this stock but with a high ankle sprain it looks doubtful this one is going to perform well in the near future. He has been ruled out for the Ohio game and is “week to week” per Jones.