This unit likely would’ve gotten an “B” if not for the bizarre first half they had. Tennessee got flagged three times for illegal procedure when lining up for a punt in the first half, and that’s simply inexcusable. It didn’t end up costing the Vols anything, but it was still a strange thing to witness and shouldn’t happen once, let alone three times in a single game. Other than that, the Vols’ special teams did a great job of not letting a dangerous return man get loose. Joe Doyle averaged 47.1 yards per punt and consistently gave the Bulldogs a long field to work with. That was especially good for Tennessee’s defense in the first half when the offense was failing to do anything but go three-and-out repeatedly. Tennessee didn’t attempt a field goal and never returned a kick or punt, but they didn’t let Georgia’s special teams do much either.
Joe Doyle receives an “A” from me, averaging 47 yards-per-punt on seven punts, including a long of 71 yards. Doyle was very impressive, flipping field position on multiple occasions. Now, what gives the special teams a “C” grade, is the fact that the punt team was called for illegal formation on three of the first four times they were on the field. That’s inexcusable, especially considering it was the same exact call — five players lined up in the backfield. One of the penalties even wiped away a Doyle punt that stopped at about the 2-yard line.
I give the group a B- because they were able to hold Georgia’s punt return team in check. Whether it’s Mecole Hardman or Terry Godwin, the two are capable of breaking off a big return at any moment. The fact that Tennessee was able to keep them in check allowed the Vols to keep the game close for the majority of the game.