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5 Observations: Tennessee 42, Georgia Tech 41

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

The Vols pulled out a heart-stopping 42-41 victory in double-overtime over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to start their 2017 season. After falling behind by two scores in the fourth quarter, the Vols pulled off another comeback victory.

Here are five observations from an insane season opener for the Vols.

Cardiac Vols Do it Again

For the second straight year, Tennessee started the season with an overtime thriller.

And once again, it happened because of a slow start in the first half.

The Vols totaled just 94 yards of offense in the first half, and Georgia Tech dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for over 21 minutes while Tennessee had it for just a little over eight minutes.

But somehow, Butch Jones’ team fought back, forcing overtime due to a blocked field goal by former walk-on defensive tackle Paul Bain.

It paid off, but Tennessee can’t continue to put itself in such a hole. On countless occasions, the Vols got away with mistakes that a better team would have capitalized on.

Yes, the win is nice. And yes, being 1-0 is all that matters. But make no mistake about it; this was a bad performance against a decent football team. Tennessee has serious question marks it needs to address at defensive line, offensive line, and wide receiver moving forward

Quinten Dormady Needs Help

Tennessee’s quarterback didn’t look great in his first career start. But he also didn’t have a lot of help.

Starting Marcus Tatum at right tackle hurt the Vols. The Yellow Jackets didn’t sack Dormady, but they had pressure on him all night. The Vols receivers also dropped five passes in the first half alone.

Dormady finished the game 20-of-37 for 221 yards and two touchdowns after a brutally rough start. Both of those scores were to Marquez Callaway, who had a breakout night himself.

Jarrett Guarantano didn’t play, despite the coaching staff saying he’d likely see the field in the Vols’ first game. Neither of those guys can play offensive tackle, so this performance doesn’t fall on the quarterback position. But Dormady never really got into a rhythm until much later.

The Vols also missed Jauan Jennings, who left the game with an arm injury in the first quarter. Tennessee relied on him a lot while he was on the field, targeting him six times. Jennings finished with 3 catches for 17 yards.

Dormady consistently threw the ball behind wide receivers, but found his rhythm in the second half when he relied on Marquez Callaway.

Reserve Linebackers Step Up

Daniel Bituli and Colton Jumper were the stars of an abysmal opening half for Tennessee. Both linebackers had double digit tackles in the first thirty minutes, and Bituli would finish with an astounding 23 tackles and a forced fumble.

Bituli made a lot of plays around the line of scrimmage, while Jumper dominated on the edge.

Bituli finished with 23 tackles. Jumper had 18 himself. For all of Tennessee’s struggles defensively, those two had phenomenal nights. The secondary and defensive line both hurt Bob Shoop’s defense (aside from Darrell Taylor). But you can’t blame much on UT’s backups.

Callaway Needs More Touches

Marquez Callaway’s first two catches were both touchdowns. And they were both pretty fantastic plays.

With Jennings out, Tennessee needed someone to step up and make Dormady’s job easier. Callaway’s catch in the corner of the endzone was impressive. But his catch and run on the following possession was a gamechanger.

Callaway needed to get the ball more. He was the only Tennessee player outside of John Kelly to provide a spark.

His 40-yard reception on the Vols’ game-tying scoring drive was arguably the play of the game.

Callaway’s play in the second half was the difference in the game. Without his contribution, Tennessee doesn’t win this game.

Secondary Still Needs Work

In the early stages of the game, Tennessee’s defense was dominant against the run. Georgia Tech gained 11 yards on its first six carries of the night. But then they found success through the air.

TaQuon Marshall’s 44-yard pass to Ricky Jeune on 3rd and 12 was a huge momentum boost on the Yellow Jackets’ first scoring drive. Nigel Warrior nearly made the interception in the zone defense, but Justin Martin got beat on the back end.

The Yellow Jackets converted 8-of-11 third downs in the opening half. And even though they only threw the ball four times in the first half, they picked up two first downs on their only two completions in the first half.

The stat sheet won’t show these guys’ bad night, but they didn’t help the cause defensively.

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2 Responses

  1. Pssst… Colton Jumper is terrible. I’ve had to watch this jabroni get beat and miss tackles for years now, and I’m sick of it. Just because our LBs had a bunch of tackles doesn’t necessarily mean they played great. Just means GT got to their level basically all game.

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