The Vols cruised to a 42-7 victory over Indiana State in their home opener for the 2017 season. Several of Tennessee’s backups and younger players found playing time in this game, and Tennessee used their match-up with an FCS opponent as a tuneup for their SEC opener against Florida next weekend.
Here are our five biggest takeaways from Tennessee’s rout against Indiana State.
The Quarterback Battle Might be Over
Quinten Dormady made a couple bad mistakes in this game, but he looked markedly better in Tennessee’s offense than Jarrett Guarantano did. Granted, Guarantano had a few of his passes dropped, but Dormady looked more comfortable and confident in the pocket than Guarantano did.
Everything from this game needs to be taken with a large grain of salt, but Dormady looked like the better quarterback in this game. This doesn’t necessarily mean the quarterback competition is completely over, but Dormady should be the definite starter against Florida next weekend. Dormady finished 13-of-18 for 194 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Guarantano was just 4-of-12 for 41 yards and a touchdown he tacked on late in the fourth quarter.
Special Teams is Still Special
Ty Chandler took the opening kickoff 91 yards for a score, marking the 11th time a Tennessee player has scored a return touchdown in the Butch Jones era. Not only that, but Trevor Daniel put in another solid game as Tennessee’s punter, booming a 59-yard punt while averaging 47.8 yards per punt. Three of Daniel’s four punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, and he had at least two downed inside the 10. Marquez Callaway also ripped off a 36-yard punt return. Aaron Medley was a perfect 6-of-6 on point afters too as well.
Ty Chandler is Also Special
Freshman Ty Chandler’s first major action as a Vol got him noticed in a big way. He took the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, and he looked more than capable as a running back as well, carrying the ball four times for 14 yards. Chandler wasn’t used a great deal in this one, but he showed enough in his limited action to make Vol fans salivate at his potential.
Brandon Johnson Emerges as No. 2 Option
Marquez Callaway burst onto the scene last week against Georgia Tech, and he took his only catch in this game for a 37-yard touchdown, giving him three on the year already. But Tennessee may have had a viable No. 2 target emerge behind him in this game.
Sophomore Brandon Johnson caught four passes for 50 yards and a touchdown, hauling in a 19-yard score from Quinten Dormady in the second quarter. Johnson had the second-most receptions in the game for the Vols, trailing only John Kelly’s five catches. Tennessee needs another pass catching weapon besides Callaway, and Johnson could be just that guy.
The Offense is in Trouble Next Week
Tennessee’s offense certainly didn’t look bad against Indiana State, but there were enough mistakes made and enough missed opportunities to cause come concern for Vol fans anticipating Tennessee’s match-up with Florida next weekend.
The Vols have yet to face a defense like Florida’s this season, and the offense hasn’t looked sharp through the first two weeks. Florida’s defense may not be as great as it has been the last couple years, but it will definitely be the best defense the Vols’ offense has faced this season. Sloppy play and mistakes will be much more costly against the Gators.