The Vols won’t get a ton of publicity or national recognition for trouncing a middle-of-the-pack OVC foe.
But Regardless of the opponent, Tennessee needed a fast start and a complete game on Saturday.
UT got both against Tennessee Tech in a 55-0 win in front of 98,343 at Neyland Stadium, snapping a three-game losing streak in the process, while also gaining bowl eligibility for the third consecutive year.
The fast start was a needed sight for a program that has been slow out of the gates all season.
Tyler Byrd took a short kick past midfield to set the Vols up with great early field position. Tennessee quickly capitalized, needing just three plays to put a touchdown on the board in the first minute of the game on a drive capped off by a 30-yard touchdown grab by Josh Malone.
After forcing a turnover on downs, Tennessee followed the same formula on the ensuing drive, needing just three plays again to find the end zone. Malone, again, provided the scoring play, this time on a nice 43-yard grab near the front pylon.
Big plays continued to be the theme. John Kelly, making his first start, found the end zone even faster on the next drive, needing just one play to cover 73 yards for UT’s third touchdown and a 21-0 lead at the 5:26 mark of the first quarter. Kelly needed just seven total carries to pile up a career-high total of 104 yards on the ground.
It took 10 plays on UT’s next drive, but the result was the same. Jauan Jennings fought off man coverage for a nice 3-yard touchdown grab to put the Vols up 28-0 on the first play of the second quarter, setting the stage for reserves to begin trickling into the game.
One of those reserves, running back Carlin Fils-Aime, powered in from two yards out to extend the lead to 35-0. With Quinten Dormady in at quarterback for much of the second quarter, the Vols continued to click, finishing the half with a short field goal from Aaron Medley to build a 38-0 edge at the break.
Helped by two defensive stops on fourth-and-short, Tennessee finished the first half with a 379-105 edge in total yardage.
With reserves pouring in during the second half, the scoring pace slowed. Fils-Aime got on the board again with a 1-yard score early in the second half. Medley then added a second field goal early in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 48-0. Freshman Marquez Callaway capped the scoring with a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown to put the Vols up by the final margin with 2:54 remaining in the game.
After Florida’s loss to Arkansas on Saturday afternoon, the Vols return to SEC play next week against Kentucky needing to win out in SEC play, and also needing one loss from the Gators to either South Carolina or LSU to win the SEC East.
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) November 5, 2016