Quick Recap: Vols Beat Missouri 19-8

    by -

    Gary Pinkel-1

    Pregame notes: 

    • WR Marquez North and Jauan Jennings are out, freshman Preston Williams is dressed out:

    • It’s a very cold evening in Columbia, with a kickoff temperature of 28 degrees, the fourth-coldest kickoff temperature UT has ever played in.

    • Crowd shot, approximately 15 minutes before kickoff:

    First Quarter: Missouri got the ball first, but it was Tennessee’s Cam Sutton that made the first big play – picking off a pass from Drew Lock near midfield to give the Vols the ball early with good field position. That’s the first pick of the year for the junior cornerback.

    Tennessee was able to capitalize. A swing pass to Alvin Kamara got the Vols into Missouri territory, and though a conservative call on 3rd-and-3 contributed to stopping the drive, Aaron Medley was able to convert on a 34-yard field goal to give the Vols an early 3-0 lead.

    The Vols carried that defensive momentum into the next drive – forcing a three-and-out and getting the ball right back at their own 44 after a 27-yard punt from Missouri. They couldn’t do anything from there, going three-and-out, including an incomplete pass from Joshua Dobbs to a wide-open Josh Smith that would’ve put UT well into Missouri territory. Dobbs’ accuracy from the pocket continues to be a question mark for this offense.

    But Trevor Daniel had another great punt, pinning Mizzou at its own 5-yard line, where they weren’t able to get anything going and then punted it back to UT, giving the Vols the ball at the Missouri 40 after another poor punt from the Tigers. The Vols got deep into Missouri territory on an option pitch play from Dobbs to Hurd, but again, had to settle for a short field goal and a 6-0 lead.

    Missouri’s offense has looked as bad as advertised thus far. The Tigers’ defense looks good, but the Vols have had good enough field position to put some points on the board early.

    Second Quarter (Vols lead 16-0): The second quarter started much like most of the first quarter went, with the Vols making it inside the Missouri red zone, but being forced to settle for a field goal. Aaron Medley’s 44-yarder, his third made kick of the evening, was good and UT jumped out to a 9-0 lead. Third-down offense has been a struggle, but the Vols are glad to see Medley bounce back the way he has after struggling at Alabama a few weeks ago. He’s made seven straight since that time.

    He wasn’t as fortunate on his next opportunity – missing a 31-yard on the next drive after Joshua Dobbs wasn’t able to convert on a couple passes into the end zone on the previous two plays. The teams exchanged a couple possessions as both defenses continue to play very well.

    Tennessee was able to break through late in the half with a nice drive and a gutsy effort from Dobbs. He converted two third-down passes to keep the chains moving and powered it in on a third-down run call inside the 10 with just seconds remaining in the half.

    The lead could clearly be bigger for the Vols, but they clearly are controlling this game and have to feel pretty good about where they are heading into halftime. Tennessee gets the ball back to start the second half, and while anything can happen, Missouri’s complete ineptitude on offense has to make the Vols feel like they’re in a great spot heading into the final 30 minutes.

    Dobbs may have had the play of the first half, but it was Jalen Hurd who did most of the work for the Vols, carrying 16 times for 108 yards. He’s just five yards short of 1,000 on the season heading into the second half.

    Third Quarter (19-0 Tennessee): Tennessee got a nice third-down conversion from Dobbs to Malone on its first drive of the second half, but stalled after that when offensive coordinator Mike DeBord dialed up a quarterback draw on 3rd-and-8 from near midfield that got stuffed. Tennessee, yet again, stopped Missouri, got the ball back and then, yet again, got in the red zone and had to settle for a field goal to push the lead to 19-0.

    Not being able to convert for touchdowns is a bit painful to watch for Tennessee fans, but in a game where Missouri is showing very little ability to move the football, adding points bit-by-bit and getting it to a three-possession lead should make the Vols feel good about where they are right now.

    Missouri made one trip inside the UT territory, but Tennessee held its 19-0 lead for the remainder of the quarter in what was a somewhat sluggish and uninspiring 15 minutes of football. The Vols will take it, though. They’re 15 minutes from leaving Columbia with their seventh win – the most since the 2009 season.

    Fourth Quarter (Tennessee wins 19-8): Missouri finally broke through early in the quarter, moving the ball inside the 1-yard line to set up a touchdown. The Tigers earned it the hard way – getting stuffed three times on the goal line before quarterback Drew Lock found his way around right end to just get the ball to the pylon for the score. Missouri went for two, got it, and cut UT’s lead to 19-8.

    Despite UT’s overall stagnant performance offensively in the fourth quarter, Missouri was never able to mount a serious threat after that, however. The Tigers made the questionable call of punting from near midfield with approximately six minutes left on fourth-and-1. That gave UT the opportunity to run the clock down even more, and by the time Missouri got the ball back, the Tigers didn’t have time to piece together any kind of drive to make it interesting late.

    Tennessee is certainly happy to leave Columbia with its first ever win over Missouri, but there were some familiar late-game issues that cropped back up. Missouri held a 108-41 advantage in total yardage in the fourth quarter, turning what looked like a potential blowout into a few nervous moments for the Vols over the final few minutes. But all-in-all, Tennessee went into a potentially tricky situation, played very well on defense and did enough with its special teams and offense to pull out win No. 7 on the season – giving the Vols their best season since at least 2009 with a chance to build on that against Vanderbilt in Knoxville next week.