Tennessee celebrated homecoming Saturday evening by snapping its four-game dropping streak.
Southern Miss defensive again Walden Davis (5) tries to drag down Tennessee working again John Kelly (four) in the course of the recreation between Tennessee and Southern Miss at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Saturday, Nov. four, 2017.(Photo: Calvin Mattheis, Knoxville News Sentinel)
Tennessee reminded us Saturday evening that it nonetheless has requirements.
No matter how far the Vols have fallen within the SEC, they’re not about to let some mediocre Conference USA staff come into Neyland Stadium and kick them whereas they’re down.
UT kicked again Saturday evening.
Never thoughts the uncertainty surrounding the way forward for coach Butch Jones. Or the mounting attrition that makes each beginning lineup a guessing recreation. The Vols nonetheless managed to defeat Southern Miss 24-10.
“When will Jones be fired?’’ has been probably the most requested query in Knoxville since Georgia pounded the Vols 41-Zero on the finish of September. That was the primary of 4 consecutive losses, every of which made it extra probably that UT’s coach wouldn’t make it to the top of his fifth season.
The dropping streak got here to an finish in opposition to the Golden Eagles. Jones’ tenure didn’t.
UT’s protection did the heavy lifting. It overwhelmed Southern Miss on the line of scrimmage, repeatedly pressuring erratic quarterback Keon Howard and shutting down working again Ito Smith.
But don’t get the fallacious concept. The Vols hadn’t performed an offense as incompetent as this one since their season took a flip for the more severe.
UT’s offense had a contributing function within the consequence. It drove for one landing and capitalized on an interception and fumble for 2 different touchdowns – no small feats below the circumstances.
The Vols started the sport with out three injured offensive tackles, together with starters Brett Kendrick and Drew Richmond. They responded by drastically extending their depth chart.
Redshirt freshman Devante Brooks, a former tight finish, began rather than Richmond. It was his first faculty recreation and possibly his first begin at any stage as a deal with.
Freshman Trey Smith, who was having an All-SEC-caliber season at proper guard, moved to left deal with rather than Kendrick.
Redshirt freshman left guard Ryan Johnson made his first faculty begin. Freshman deal with Riley Locklear made his faculty debut within the first half.
All of UT’s comings and goings within the offensive line have been upstaged by what occurred at quarterback. Out went redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano and in got here freshman Will McBride.
Guarantano, who was making his fourth consecutive begin, suffered an ankle damage within the first half and didn’t play within the second.
McBride appeared headed for a redshirt when the season opened with Quinten Dormady as the starter and Guarantano because the backup. Dormady has since had season-ending shoulder surgical procedure.
Jones had no selection however to play McBride, who shortly found out the benefit of handing the ball to working again John Kelly. McBride managed the offense nicely sufficient and even demonstrated a pleasant contact on a deep throw that was barely past freshman extensive receiver Josh Palmer.
Combined with Tennessee’s defensive efficiency, that was sufficient to finish one dropping streak. Now, the Vols have to determine how one can finish their six-game SEC dropping streak subsequent Saturday in Columbia, Mo.
Based on Missouri’s 45-16 victory over Florida, the Vols will not get as a lot badist from their opponent.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He could also be reached at 865-342-6284 or [email protected] Follow him at: Twitter.com/johnadamskns.