The Vols got by a gritty Arkansas State team, but they may have payed a price for it as newcomers Von Pearson and Ethan Wolf each appeared to suffer serious injuries. Here are a few quick-hitting thoughts from the game. Check back for full coverage soon.
How they scored:
• 4-yard run by Fredi Knighten at 11:03 of the 1st quarter (XP missed), 6-0 Arkansas State.
• 20-yard field goal by Aaron Medley at 7:16 in the 1st quarter, 6-3 Arkansas State.
• 4-yard touchdown run by Jalen Hurd at 3:02 of the 1st quarter (XP Medley), 10-6 Tennessee.
• 10-yard touchdown pass from Justin Worley to Marquez North at 13:01 of the 2nd quarter, (XP Medley) 17-6 Tennessee.
• 9-yard touchdown pass from Fredi Knighten to Tres Houston at 4:10 of the 2nd quarter (PAT attempt failed), 17-12 Tennessee.
• 5-yard touchdown run by Justin Worley at 1:20 of the 2nd quarter (XP Medley), 24-12 Tennessee.
• 14-yard pass from Justin Worley to Marquez North at 7:52 of the 3rd quarter (XP Medley), 31-12 Tennessee.
• 24-yard touchdown run by DeKeathan Williams at 10:06 of the 4th quarter (XP Ferguson), 31-19 Tennessee.
• 38-yard field goal by Aaron Medley at 1:41 of the 4th quarter, 34-19 Tennessee.
1. Justin Worley: Outside of a bad throw on the interception, Worley put together another strong performance. The senior finished 22-of-38 for 247 yards, 2 touchdowns and the interception – he also added a rushing touchdown. Worley appeared to lose some command of the football in the second half, but that was due to Arkansas State’s ability to apply pressure through blitzes. Tennessee’s offensive line has to do a better job of protecting Worley moving forward.
2. Marquez North: The sophomore showed a glimpse of how valuable he can be for this football team today. North only hauled in four passes, but two of them went for touchdowns and had a very high degree of difficulty. With the injuries to Wolf and Pearson, expect North’s role in the offense to grow as the Vols look to replace the lost production.
3. Jalen Hurd: 23 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, but Hurd demonstrated all of the traits you look for in a feature back. He was patient when he needed to be, but also showed toughness and a good burst when holes were opened up. Hurd garnered 10 more carries than Marlin Lane on the day and appears to be the Vols’ best option at tailback.
4. Owen Williams: The JUCO transfer announced his presence in a big way on Saturday. Williams had a few big plays in the third quarter when Tennessee was struggling on offense that really helped keep this game in Tennessee’s favor. Williams finished with five tackles (two for a loss) and a pass broken up. Tennessee has been looking for players to step up on the interior of the defensive line and Williams took a big step today.
The game was over when: Brian Randolph batted down a pass on 3rd and 5 with 8:11 to go in the 4th quarter. Arkansas State had some momentum but were forced to punt from their own 10-yard line. Jacob Carter returned the punt 21 yards to the ASU 35 yard line. Tennessee wouldn’t score on the possession as Aaron Medley missed a 35-yard attempt, but the Vols we able to burn over four minutes off of the clock and leave ASU little time to mount a comeback. Tennessee would stop ASU’s fourth down attempt on the ensuing possession and milk the clock to victory.
Quick takeaway: I think Arkansas State deserves a lot of credit in this one. They were physical, fast and prepared for today’s game. Their blitz packages put Tennessee in some tough situations protecting Worley and the young offensive line struggled at times. Justin Worley looked extremely solid today outside of a forced interception midway through the third quarter. Tennessee’s defense lost track of Fredi Knighten a few times, but did a pretty solid job of keeping the elusive quarterback in check. There will certainly be a lot of things to work on before the Vols travel to Norman, Oklahoma next weekend to take on the Sooners.