• Scouts from the Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers are in attendance for the game.
• Reps from the Independence, Music City and Liberty Bowls are in attendance as well.
• Center Mack Crowder is in uniform and was running on the field to get loose. Dylan Wiesman, however, was warming up with Joshua Dobbs. Wiesman got the first-team reps during warm-ups as well.
• There was a minor scuffle as some UT players ran on the field. It didn’t appear like anything major – no punches thrown or anything – just maybe some trashing talking.
• Receiver Jason Croom is on the field going through warm-ups. He looks to be moving well. Croom left the open portion of practice earlier this week, though Butch Jones downplayed the injury. Running back Derrell Scott is in uniform, wearing a small cast on his hand. Haven’t seen Trevarris Saulsberry (knee) on the field.
• Vic Wharton is working with the starters at receiver in warm-ups. The starters were Pig Howard, Von Pearson and Wharton. Croom, Ryan Jenkins, Johnathon Johnson and Josh Malone got work with the second-team.
1st Quarter (10-0 Vols): Somewhat of a sluggish start was broken out of in a big way when Cam Sutton took a 76-yard punt return back for a touchdown to give the Vols an early 7-0 lead at the 8:18 mark of the first half. Tennessee responded with a nice defensive stop and then went on a 63-yard drive that ended with a 37-yard field goal by Aaron Medley to give the Vols a 10-0 lead late in the quarter. The Vols had a 1st-and-goal situation on that drive, but without Jalen Hurd, who checked out with an injury during the drive, Tennessee was unable to punch it in. Vanderbilt, which toggled between Johnny McCrary and Patton Robinette at quarterback, found very little success on offense, totaling just 12 total yards on offense and two first downs.
2nd Quarter (17-10 Vols): Vanderbilt responded in the second quarter after falling down 10-0. An interception by Torren McGaster set the Commodores up with great field position. A tackle for loss by Derek Barnett helped stop that drive, but Vandy converted a field goal to get on the board. After stopping UT’s ensuing drive, Vanderbilt had its most impressive drive of the first half, going 88 yards in seven plays with the drive being capped off by a Steven Scheu touchdown after the tight end got behind Jakob Johnson for tying score. The Vols had a response of their own, however, going 94 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown with under two minutes remaining in the half. Joshua Dobbs, who has been shouldering much of the rushing burden without Hurd (apparent concussion), capped that drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run after a pass interference on the previous play gave UT 1st & goal from the 2.
All-in-all, not the start Tennessee wanted. The Vols will certainly take the halftime edge, but several key mistakes have piled up and kept Vandy very much in the game. And without the big play from Sutton, or even the PI call on Vandy in the end zone, we have a different conversation at halftime. Injuries are a major concern as well. It appears that Hurd could be out the rest of the game. Starting right guard Jashon Robertson also went down on the final drive of the game, forcing Brett Kendrick in at left tackle and Kyler Kerbyson to slide to right guard. Vanderbilt will start the second half with the ball.
3rd Quarter (24-17 Vols): A strong finish by Vanderbilt cut into a two-score lead for the Vols. Following an acrobatic interception by Todd Kelly Jr., Tennessee put together a 7-play, 75 yard drive that was capped off by an impressive 8-yard touchdown run by Dobbs. But Vanderbilt won’t go away in this one. The Commodores responded with a nice drive, overcoming a Derek Barnett sack and converting a 3rd-and-15 situation when Robinette got loose for 19 yards. Vandy wrapped that drive up with a strong touchdown run by Ralph Webb, where he broke multiple tackles. The Commodores are taking much of the momentum into the fourth quarter after getting a sack on the last play of the third. The Vols are going to have to grind this one out to return to the postseason.
4th Quarter (Vols win 24-17): Dobbs forced one early in the quarter, leading to another interception by McGastor near midfield. Vanderbilt squandered that opportunity, failing on a trick play and then serving up an interception to Brian Randolph on the next play. Matt Darr had a key play at the 7:41 mark, booming a perfectly-placed 60-yard punt that pinned Vandy inside its own 5. Vanderbilt wasn’t able to get a first down, punted back to UT and the Vols started milking the clock, getting it down under two minutes. Vanderbilt took back over at its own 20, but couldn’t get the ball into scoring range and a fourth-down incompletion by Robinette ended Vandy’s chances.