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PFF Grades: Tennessee vs. Virginia

Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee football opened up its 2023 season with a commanding 49-13 win over Virginia at Nissan Stadium in Nashville Saturday afternoon. Each week, we’ll share how the Vols graded out according to Pro Football Focus grades.

Here’s how PFF works, the company grades each player on every play from a scale of negative two to two in 0.5 increments. Here’s how the company defines the benefits of their grading system.

“Taking every play into consideration allows for a larger sample size of data to tell the proper story rather than just a highlight reel of plays that we tend to remember, for better or worse. We also work to eliminate bias by not caring about the level of player who is being graded, so whether it’s the best tackle in the league missing a block or one of the worst, the same grade is given. Preconceived level of ability has no impact on the grading system. This style has worked well in unlocking undervalued gems through the years, while also not being swayed by player hype if it is undeserved.”

Each game players are graded on a scale from 1-100. 90-100 represents an elite grade, 85-89 represents an all-conference player, 70-84 is starter quality, 60-69 is backup quality and everything under 60 is replaceable.

With that, let’s see how Tennessee graded out against Virginia.

Offense (minimum of 17 plays — 20% of offensive plays)

RB Jaylen Wright — 82.1 (28 plays)

QB Joe Milton III — 78.3 (74 plays)

OT Gerald Mincey — 73.5 (39 plays)

WR Squirrel White — 68.8 (39 plays)

OT Jeremiah Crawford — 67.1 (57 plays)

TE Jacob Warren — 65.2 (36 plays)

RG Javontez Spraggins — 64.2 (74 plays)

RB Jabari Small — 63.3 (26 plays)

LT John Campbell Jr. — 61.6 (59 plays)

C Ollie Lane — 60.9 (48 plays)

WR Ramel Keyton — 59.6 (73 plays)

OG Jackson Lampley —59.4 (22 plays)

RT/C Dayne Davis — 59.1 (27 plays)

TE McCallan Castles — 58.1 (45 plays)

RB Dylan Sampson — 56.7 (27 plays)

WR Chas Nimrod — 56.1 (22 plays)

WR Bru McCoy — 56.1 (58 plays)

WR Dont’e Thornton — 54.3 (44 plays)

LG Andrej Karic — 47.1 (60 plays)

I’ll start with a few additional grades from players who didn’t reach 17 snaps. Nico Iamaleava earned a 59.9 grade on 10 plays and Kaleb Webb earned a 60.2 grade on 10 plays.

Jaylen Wright looked like Tennessee’s best offensive player live and the PFF grades back it up. Wright totaled just under 10 yards per rush against the Cavaliers. I thought Joe Milton III was solid but nothing special live but PFF was pleased with his performance.

Tennessee played an abundance of offensive linemen in its normal rotation with seven playing at least 20% of snaps. The Vols’ tackles graded out well with backup Gerald Mincey leading the way while some of Tennessee’s interior offensive linemen struggled according to PFF.

More From RTI: James Pearce Jr. Breaks Out Against Virginia

Defensive Grades (minimum of 13 plays — 20% of defensive plays)

LEO James Pearce Jr. — 87.8 (24 plays)

DE Tyler Baron — 87.2 (26 plays)

LB Aaron Beasley — 82.2 (43 plays)

CB Kamal Hadden — 80.3 (29 plays)

S Jaylen McCollough — 79.1 (44 plays)

LB Elijah Herring — 78.6 (24 plays)

DT Omarr Norman-Lott — 76.4 (21 plays)

LEO Roman Harrison — 73.2 (32 plays)

LB Keenan Pili — 73.0 (29 plays)

DT Daevin Hobbs — 71.5 (24 plays)

S Wesley Walker — 69.9 (45 plays)

CB Warren Burrell — 68.6 (26 plays)

CB Doneiko Slaughter — 66.7 (29 plays)

S Andre Turrentine — 66.0 (20 plays)

STAR Tamarion McDonald — 65.8 (29 plays)

LEO Caleb Herring — 65.5 (13 plays)

DT Omari Thomas — 65.4 (25 plays)

S Will Brooks — 65.4 (20 plays)

STAR Brandon Turniage — 65.1 (27 plays)

LB Arion Carter — 65.0 (18 plays)

DE Tyre West — 63.4 (15 plays)

DE Dominic Bailey — 59.8 (16 plays)

CB Gabe Jeudy-Lally — 55.3 (26 plays)

DT Kurrott Garland — 50.7 (19 plays)

Two guys who came up just short of the required plays were Josh Josephs and Bryson Eason. Josephs earned a 74.7 grade in 12 plays while Eason earned a 61.8 grade in 12 plays.

Tennessee’s defensive grades were unsurprisingly really good. The Vols’ defense completed dominated the Cavaliers and had 10 players grade out as starter quality (which is a really good grade if you’re new to PFF).

James Pearce, Omar Norman-Lott and Tyler Baron were probably the most obvious impressive Tennessee defensive linemen in the opener and the grades bare it out.

One backup who I thought played extremely well live and the number backed it up is sophomore Elijah Herring. He’s definitively Tennessee’s third inside linebacker right now.

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One Response

  1. I thought Tennessee played a solid game. One fumble 2 bad punts 1 missed fourth down being biggest setbacks in the game. Great defense, running, and good overall offense. One satisfied Vol fan here!

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