COLLEGE STATION, Tex. – Jalen Hurd’s absence on Saturday could’ve been been a massive blow to Tennessee’s run against Texas A&M.
Instead, it was an opportunity for complimentary back Alvin Kamara to star in the main role, and for John Kelly to see his first significant action against major competition.
“What can I say about Alvin Kamara?” Butch Jones said after the game. “Not only from running the football and receiving the football, but also from a punt return standpoint. Probably his grittiest performance of his career, at least at Tennessee. I thought John Kelly ran exceptionally hard. We just have to take care of the football. John gave us another spark. We were excited for him to have his opportunity, and I thought he did some good things with those opportunities.”
Kamara’s final numbers were huge: 18 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with eight catches for 161 yards and another score, making some history in the process:
Alvin Kamara (@Vol_Football): only Power 5 player with 150 receiving yards and 125 rushing yards in the same game in the last 20 seasons
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 9, 2016
Kelly added 89 yards and a score on 13 carries. Ball security, however, was one issue that plagued both. Kamara had two fumbles, losing one. Kelly had a somewhat unexplainable one in the third quarter where he simply appeared to drop the ball, giving the Aggies possession back shortly after Tennessee recorded an interception.
Those mistakes need cleaning up, but Kamara and Kelly made a formidable duo that gives UT some flexibility and depth going forward with Hurd’s exact status unknown.
“With Jalen being out, I knew a lot of the workload was going to be on me; just doing a lot of different thing and still going and doing punt return, a lot of the split out stop stuff and just getting those carries,” Kamara said. “We prepare every week. Every man prepares like they’re the number one guy.”
“(Kamara) had the same approach as he always does,” quarterback Joshua Dobbs added. “When the ball is in hands, we expect him to make a play and he expects to make a play. He did a great job all night in the run game and the passing game we need him to continue to play at that level throughout the rest of the season.”