Video: Behind the scenes of Tennessee’s upset win at Auburn – 247Sports


247Sports

Video: Behind the scenes of Tennessee's upset win at Auburn
247Sports
Tennessee's award-winning VFL Films crew dropped its latest gem Tuesday night. A behind-the-scenes video from last weekend's come-from-behind, streak-snapping, 30-24 win at then-21st-ranked Auburn dropped on Tennessee's official Twitter account, ...

Tennessee football: New possible outcomes for Vols season after Auburn win – All For Tennessee


All For Tennessee

Tennessee football: New possible outcomes for Vols season after Auburn win
All For Tennessee
By defeating the Auburn Tigers on the road, Tennessee football has many new possibilities for outcomes in 2018. Here is how the Volunteers could finish. Coming off a 4-8 season, Tennessee football entered 2018 with only three circled victories: the ...

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Gov. Bill Haslam says UT Vols football headed in the right direction – Knoxville News Sentinel


Knoxville News Sentinel

Gov. Bill Haslam says UT Vols football headed in the right direction
Knoxville News Sentinel
(Photo: Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel). CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam weighs in on the state of the Tennessee Volunteers football program and coach Jeremy Pruitt following the Saturday win over Auburn.

Tennessee Football Opponent Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide

After a huge 30-24 win on the road against then-No. 21 Auburn, Tennessee returns to Knoxville to play host to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday.

While many Tennessee fans — or fans of any opponent of the Crimson Tide this season — are not exactly looking forward to playing Alabama, last week’s win put Tennessee’s season back on track regardless of what happens this week.

Alabama is currently a 29-point favorite over Tennessee in this year’s version of the Third Saturday in October.

Overview

There isn’t much I can say about Alabama which hasn’t already been said.

Nick Saban’s machine continues rolling on this season with quite possibly the best team he’s ever had at Alabama. The Crimson Tide has its always-stout defense, but this iteration also has the Heisman frontrunner at quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa.

In seven games, Tagovailoa has completed 88 of his 123 pass attempts for 1,760 yards and 21 touchdowns without throwing an interception. Tagovailoa suffered a minor knee injury last week against Missouri, but Saban said he could have returned to the game if necessary.

For all the success Saban has had at Alabama, he has done so largely with average quarterback play — and also rarely having a good kicker, somehow. Adding the best quarterback in the country to the Crimson Tide is just unfair.

Last Week

Alabama moved to 7-0 last week when the Crimson Tide defeated Missouri at home, 39-10.

Missouri kept the game close for a quarter, ending the first quarter down just 13-10, but Alabama eventually did what it has done to everyone it has played this season and ended the game scoring 26 unanswered points.

Tagovailoa finished the game 12-22 for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Alabama’s running back trio of Damien Harris, Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs combined for 171 yards on 36 carries and a touchdown.

Impact Players

QB Tua Tagovailoa — This one is pretty obvious, as Tagovailoa is the best player Tennessee will see this season. It’s only his first season starting for the Tide, but Tagovailoa is quite clearly the best signal caller Saban has had at Alabama and it appears he has quite an NFL career ahead of him as well. Even for all their other talent, the Crimson Tide goes as Tagovailoa goes.

WR Jerry JeudyRemember one sentence ago when I said, “all their other talent”? Yeah, Alabama isn’t lacking future NFL stars at other positions, either.

Jeudy already has 705 yards and nine touchdowns on 26 receptions so far this year, and he is Tagovailoa’s favorite deep threat. Tennessee’s young secondary will need to be extra vigilant to make sure Jeudy doesn’t get behind it.

LB Mack Wilson The leader of the Tide’s defense, Wilson has had his best start to a season in his three years at Alabama. He has 32 total tackles so far this season, including 2.5 tackles for loss, and an interception.

Game Outlook

Maybe I’m not the one to ask, because I didn’t think Tennessee had much of a chance going to Auburn, but this is certainly a tall order for the Volunteers — and that’s ok.

With its win over Auburn, Tennessee’s quest for six wins and a bowl berth — which would certainly make 2018 a success for Jeremy Pruitt and the Vols — is back on track regardless of what happens on Saturday.

Saban will look to improve his 12-0 record versus former assistants on Saturday when Pruitt faces his former boss for the first time. In those 12 games, the combined score is 498-157.

This week is another chance for Tennessee to measure itself against the best and gain valuable experience heading into the latter portion of its schedule.

With Jonathan Kongbo lost for the year, who will step up for Tennessee?

Tennessee lost some depth, but may have gained some upside.

Tennessee’s win at Auburn was a potential turning point for Jeremy Pruitt and the Vols, but they lost a defensive starter in the process. Jonathan Kongbo was putting together perhaps his best game as a Vol against the Tigers before exiting with a knee injury. That injury ended up being a torn ACL, ending Kongbo’s Tennessee career.

“Well it’s why we practice the way we do,” Pruitt said on Monday. “I hate it for Kongbo. He’s moved around since we have been here and he’s worked really hard. He’s been a guy that’s tried to do everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s going to graduate this semester, so he’s done a really good job academically. It’s unfortunate. It’s one of those deals where you would like if we’re going to have targeting fouls, you would like to have some of those cut blocks being reviewed.”

The fifth year senior failed to register a sack this year, but Tennessee can’t afford to lose too much depth on the edges. When one door closes, another one opens. Who is set to take on the snaps that Kongbo will vacate?

“With Deandre Johnson, Jordan Allen, Austin Smith, we have guys that have been working hard and have taken a lot of reps this year. Now they’ll get an opportunity,” Pruitt said.

Johnson is the guy that got most of the snaps on Saturday in the second half. In fact, the 6-3, 244 pound pass rusher got home for a sack on a stunt on a key fourth down stop late in the second half. The sophomore pass rusher appears to have all the tools necessary to be effective on the edge, now he’s going to get his chance to put all the pieces together.

Johnson will line up opposite Darrell Taylor, potentially forming a formidable pass rushing duo for the second half of the season. Allen and Smith will get bumped up a spot and become key depth players for Pruitt’s defense.

Tennessee seems to be turning a corner defensively, generating pressure and playing solid in the secondary, for the most part. Add Johnson to the long list of guys that we want to watch develop down the homestretch.

Jeremy Pruitt breaks down Alabama

Pruitt will face his old boss for the first time on Saturday.

This all just has to be a little strange for Jeremy Pruitt, even though he’d probably never admit to it. Pruitt is starting to come into his own as Tennessee’s head coach, fresh off an upset win on the road against the Auburn Tigers. But now, his old boss — complete with a roster that Pruitt helped assemble — will be paying him a visit this weekend.

Pruitt played for Alabama, then cut his coaching teeth at Alabama. Now he’s on the other side of one of the nastiest rivalries in all of college football.

“When you talk about Alabama, first of all you talk about the rivalry,” Pruitt told the media on Monday. “This game means a whole lot to a whole lot of people. It’s a very important game, not only because it’s the next one, but because of the tradition that comes with this game. I think we’ve got to do our part to create this rivalry again. It’s not been much of a rivalry the past few years. We have to uphold our end of it.”

The darkest times of Tennessee football have been during the brightest for Alabama. While the Vols were cycling through Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and Butch Jones, Alabama was racking up titles with Nick Saban. That has created an 11 game winning streak in this series for the Tide.

“Alabama has a tremendous team,” Pruitt said. “They are a complete football team. Offensively, they have lots of playmakers. It starts at quarterback. They have two guys that are really, really good. They have really good runners. They’re huge up front. They have great wide receivers who have speed and play physical and they can run with the ball after the catch.”

Alabama’s offense has been the story of the 2018 college football season. They’ve gotten to a whole new level with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, evolving into the most explosive offense in the country. The numbers might not support that statement, but Alabama hasn’t been forced to play a full game yet. Saban and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley can pretty much name their score against most opponents.

“Mike Locksley does a phenomenal job spreading the ball around and being creative,” Pruitt said. “They’re great on third down. They score touchdowns and create explosive plays. Basically, they’ve been able to do what they want to do. I mean, they’ve really had to try hard not to score a hundred points a couple of games, you know?”

As far as Alabama’s defense goes, is there anyone in the world that knows them better than Jeremy Pruitt? Just ten months ago, Pruitt was calling the defense for Nick Saban in the national championship. Now he’s about to face his old group.

“Defensively, they’ve always been very good,” Pruitt said. “They’re big up front, they’ve got guys that can rush the quarterback. They can play man-to-man. They’re really good at linebackers. All three levels they create issues. It’ll be a tremendous challenge for us. We’re looking forward to it. It’s a great measuring stick to play probably the best team in the country right now, so our players will be looking forward to it.”

Tennessee already beat one of the best defenses in the country last weekend. It was a coming out party for Jarrett Guarantano and his three main receivers. But the Vols won’t have the luxury of facing a struggling offense this week. Alabama has actually had their struggles against big plays this year, but their pass defense still ranks 29th in the country. ‘Bama ranks 33rd against the run and 15th in total defense, to nobody’s surprise.

“After watching a couple games, I was afraid to look at the defense,” Pruitt said. “I know most of the players and I know Tosh and Saban and statistically you can look at them, they’re one of the best defenses in the country. I know their personnel. They’ve got dominant players at all three levels, they’ve got playmakers that create turnovers. I’m sure there’s probably a little bit of differences, but it’ll be an attacking style defense that tries to put pressure on the quarterback.”

Vegas has placed Alabama as 28.5 point favorites for Saturday’s matchup, which can be seen at 3:30 PM eastern on CBS.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Tennessee Volunteers: Odds, Analysis, Betting Pick – Bleacher Report


Bleacher Report

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Tennessee Volunteers: Odds, Analysis, Betting Pick
Bleacher Report
College football point spread: The Crimson Tide opened as 28.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report.) College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 51.8-15.0 Crimson Tide (College ...
Alabama Football: Latest injury news as the Tide prepares for TennesseeBamaHammer

Alabama Crimson Tide: Know Your Foe – Third Saturday in October EditionLast Word on College Football (blog)

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Vols in the NFL: Tracking former Tennessee stars in Week 6 – 247Sports


247Sports

Vols in the NFL: Tracking former Tennessee stars in Week 6
247Sports
After missing Philadelphia's Week 5 game with a shoulder injury, Barnett returned to the starting lineup for the Super Bowl champions in their game against the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football. The former first-round pick finished with two ...

Alabama Football: Latest injury news as the Tide prepares for Tennessee – BamaHammer


BamaHammer

Alabama Football: Latest injury news as the Tide prepares for Tennessee
BamaHammer
Check out the latest update on Alabama football injuries as the Crimson Tide prepares to face the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday in Knoxville. Last week we described the Alabama football team as a mixture of gimpy and depleted. As the Crimson Tide ...

USA Today: Vols were among biggest winners in Week 7 – 247Sports


BamaHammer

USA Today: Vols were among biggest winners in Week 7
247Sports
“So: Tennessee has a football coach, we think. Jeremy Pruitt landed the marquee moment of his first season with a 30-24 win against Auburn, snapping the Volunteers' painful losing streak in SEC play and giving his tenure a needed jolt just at the ...
Alabama Football: The Vols are believing their long nightmare will end SaturdayBamaHammer

Tennessee Vols morning report: Guarantano and Phillips players of the weekAll For Tennessee

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SEC Power Rankings following Week 7 of 2018: Vols finally move up – All For Tennessee


All For Tennessee

SEC Power Rankings following Week 7 of 2018: Vols finally move up
All For Tennessee
After upsetting the Auburn Tigers, the Tennessee Volunteers finally took a major jump in our SEC Power Rankings following Week 7 of the 2018 season. Talk about a crazy amount of movement in our SEC Power Rankings! As a Vols blog, doing these has ...

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Jauan Jennings opens up about online outburst, return to UT Vols – Knoxville News Sentinel


Chattanooga Times Free Press

Jauan Jennings opens up about online outburst, return to UT Vols
Knoxville News Sentinel
At the time, Jennings was exiled from the Tennessee football program. He came to practice on Nov. 22 aiming to play against Vanderbilt in the season finale. It didn't go as he desired. The Murfreesboro Blackman graduate left and posted an expletive ...
Jauan Jennings opens up on his path back to Vols247Sports

Jauan Jennings grateful for second chance at TennesseeChattanooga Times Free Press

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Tennessee Volunteers vs Auburn Tigers: Final Grades – Rocky Top Talk


Rocky Top Talk

Tennessee Volunteers vs Auburn Tigers: Final Grades
Rocky Top Talk
WHAT. A. GAME. Yes - it does suck that in the big picture of things - UT fans everywhere rejoiced on Saturday like they just won the national championship after beating Auburn. But at the same time, who the hell cares? Any proud fanbase that went ...
Tennessee football: Watch Phillip Fulmer celebrating with Vols after Auburn winAll For Tennessee

Tennessee vs. Auburn RECAP, SCORE & STATS (10/13/18) | College Football Week 7NJ.com
Media floored by Jeremy Pruitt, Vols after win at Auburn247Sports
AL.com -Tenn Truth -Bleacher Report -AP News
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Tennessee Volunteers vs Auburn Tigers: Final Grades

<em>Tennessee’s defense showed up in a big way on Saturday</em>

All three phases clicked and it resulted in the program’s first conference victory in almost two years.

WHAT. A. GAME.

Yes - it does suck that in the big picture of things - UT fans everywhere rejoiced on Saturday like they just won the national championship after beating Auburn.

But at the same time, who the hell cares?

Any proud fanbase that went through an 11-game conference losing streak would’ve celebrated just as hard as anyone wearing orange last weekend.

An impressive, complete team effort helped get it done on Saturday. From Joe Doyle to Ty Chandler, everyone had their hand in the pot.

Let’s dive into this week’s grades.

Offense

This was by far and away Tennessee’s best offensive performance this season.

And not just the season, but the past couple of years as well.

Jarrett Guarantano set career highs across the board, dropping dime after dime and most importantly - not committing any turnovers.

The offensive line protected pretty well for the most part. They did give up three sacks, but there were also plenty of instances where the blitz was picked up and/or Guarantano was given a clean pocket with plenty of time to operate.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Guarantano looked great on Saturday

The receivers, along with Guarantano, were outstanding. 50/50 balls became more like 90/10 balls in favor of the UT wideouts. Josh Palmer, Marquez Callaway, and Jauan Jennings all had at least one catch of 25 yards or more and all three finished with over 50 receiving yards on the day.

The inside run game, however, was dismal. The Vols found no room outside of two long runs on the first drive of the game. Tennessee constantly put themselves in 2nd-and-long scenarios trying to set up the inside attack and at one point, fans were undoubtedly frustrated with the lack of success on the ground.

Put it this way, Tennessee’s first three runs went for 37 yards. The next 33 carries went for 31 yards.

There were some pre-snap penalties that also hurt the Vols. Those need to be fixed, but that just comes down to coaching and better focus from the players.

In all, it was a near-perfect day for the offense and they should be able to build off this performance as the season wears on.

Final Grade: 3.0 (B)

Defense

With each passing week, this defense continues to improve and it’s exciting to watch.

This was probably the best performance under Jeremy Pruitt. He continues to do wonders with a very limited amount of talent on that side of the ball.

It was a rough start for the defense as they watched the Tigers drive right down the field on a 14 play, 75-yard drive that ended with a touchdown. They were able to keep the Vols off balance using quick tempo and the running game to set up the offense.

Things really got rough on the second drive. Auburn was able to get to inside the Tennessee 10 just six plays later. All of a sudden, the Tigers’ offense looked unstoppable and the Vols seemed to be in trouble.

But UT was able to come up with a big stop on 3rd-and-goal from inside the five after Bryce Thompson deflected a pass in the end zone.

That was the turning point for the defense.

The Vols pressured Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham throughout the game and the result was two interceptions and a strip-sack fumble that was returned for a touchdown that pushed the Vols’ lead to double-digits.

Auburn averaged under four yards per carry on the ground, which forced Stidham to carry the offense and that played perfectly into Tennessee’s hands.

The result was a season-high five sacks and three forced turnovers. The Tigers finished 9/16 on third down and converted 50% (1 of 2) of their fourth down attempts.

The third down number is a bit misleading, however. The Tigers started 6/8 on the money down - which is never good - but crashed down the stretch, converting just three more attempts the rest of the game.

The Vols still gave up over 400 yards of offense and 24 points, but it was a consistent, effective performance.

If this unit continues to progress the way that they have, then this team should be very competitive down the stretch.

Final Grade: 3.0 (B+)

Special Teams

Damn, this unit rocked it on Saturday.

Outside of a blocked field goal attempt, the Vols’ special teams unit had a major hand in Saturday’s victory.

Punter Joe Doyle consistently put the Tigers in bad field position. He pinned them inside their own ten twice and since the defense was able to play the field-position advantage, the end result was two field goals would be the difference in the game.

Brent Cimaglia continues to be one of the more consistent place kickers in recent memory. He’d still be perfect on the season if it weren’t for the block.

The coverage unit played well and the special teams unit showed why this phase of the game is still as important as it’s ever been.

Final Grade: 3.5 (B+)

Coaching

This is one of the easier coaching grades I’ve ever given out.

Pruitt and his staff took every extra second given to them over the bye week to make sure they had a solid, sound, and effective game plan to help them notch their first SEC win since 2016.

There was really only one glaring issue coaching-wise and that was Tyson Helton’s puzzling decision to continue to try and run it up the gut on just about every first down. The result was the same 95% of the time - the Vols would either get stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
Jeremy Pruitt received his first taste of victory in the SEC

Other than that, this coaching staff could basically do no wrong Saturday. The players weren’t the only ones who grew up in a big way.

Final Grade: 3.5 (B+)

Overall Grade: 3.25 (B)

Man, you have no idea how good it feels to grade out an SEC matchup that the Vols WON.

All three phases of the game played a near-perfect game, but that’s what it takes to win games in the SEC.

This was a major win for Jeremy Pruitt and the Vols. They certainly have this team moving in the right direction and all of a sudden, the season has excitement once again.

Overall Grade For The 2018 Season: 2.5 (C+)

Tennessee Volunteers football fans need this new t-shirt – All For Tennessee


All For Tennessee

Tennessee Volunteers football fans need this new t-shirt
All For Tennessee
After a big upset win over the No. 21 Auburn Tigers, Tennessee Volunteers fans are only thinking one thing: We've got ourselves a ball coach! The Tennessee Volunteers got themselves the first signature, high profile victory of the Jeremy Pruitt era ...
Jeremy Pruitt Is the Coaching Answer for Tennessee Volunteers—So FarNewsweek

Tennessee OLB Jonathan Kongbo out for season with torn ACLESPN
Former Alabama linebacker praises Jeremy Pruitt on Twitter247Sports
Rocky Top Talk -atozsportsnashville.com -College Football - Associated Press -WNML
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Line released for Tennessee vs. Alabama

Brace yourselves.

For the third week in a row, Tennessee will be huge underdogs. The Vols will welcome Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide to Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon for their annual installment of “The Third Saturday in October.” The game can be seen on CBS at 3:30 eastern.

Alabama might just be better than they ever have — at least offensively. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has elevated the Tide to a whole new level since taking over at halftime of the National Championship game last year. The scariest part? They haven’t even really needed to put a full 60 minutes of football together yet.

Saban’s group is cruising through SEC play, destroying everything in their path so far. For that reason, Vegas has opened this line at Alabama -28.5. A dinged up Tua Tagovailoa was likely the delay in this line being released. Tagovailoa left the Missouri game on Saturday night after an awkward slide. Nick Saban said he was fine after the game, but his status will be worth monitoring through the week.

With or without Tua, Alabama is plenty capable of crushing anyone in college football.

Alabama is 4-3 against the spread so far in 2018. Tennessee improved to 2-3 against the spread with an outright win over Auburn last week. The Vols opened as 18.5 point underdogs in that one.

Kickoff time announced for Tennessee — South Carolina

Hey, if nothing else, Will Muschamp can’t beat Butch Jones again. Jeremy Pruitt will get his first shot at Muschamp and the Gamecocks next week, following a matchup against Alabama this Saturday.

The SEC announced that the game will kickoff at 7:30 PM eastern on the SEC Network.

The Gamecocks, like the Vols, are sitting at 3-3 on the season. They were competitive with what’s turned out to be a pretty good Texas A&M team last week, ultimately coming up short in the end. Early losses to Georgia and Kentucky squashed any outside hope they had at contending for the SEC East.

Tennessee, of course, got an unexpected upset win at Auburn last weekend. The progress that this team is starting to show under Jeremy Pruitt is remarkable. Suddenly, there are plenty of winnable football games for the Vols in the second half of this season. That important stretch begins with South Carolina 12 days from now.

No. 1 Alabama opens as big road favorite at Tennessee – 247Sports


247Sports

No. 1 Alabama opens as big road favorite at Tennessee
247Sports
(Want the latest scoop on Tennessee football and basketball? Make sure you're in the loop — take five seconds to sign up for our FREE Vols newsletter now!) Alabama, while putting together its undefeated record, has won by an average of 38.4 points per ...
Saban: Tagovailoa's knee has improved, won't miss practice101 Sports (blog)


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Gamecocks, Volunteers kickoff time is set – 247Sports


247Sports

Gamecocks, Volunteers kickoff time is set
247Sports
South Carolina is off this week but the SEC released its game times for October 27 when the Gamecocks return to action against Tennessee. Kickoff between the Volunteers and Gamecocks is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on SEC Network when the ...
Game time, TV network announced for South Carolina's home game with TennesseeNews & Observer


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ESPN projects Tennessee to earn bowl bid – Rocky Top Talk


Rocky Top Talk

ESPN projects Tennessee to earn bowl bid
Rocky Top Talk
And just like that, Tennessee is back in the hunt for a bowl bid. The Vols upset No. 21 Auburn on the Plains on Saturday, stealing a win and getting to 3-3 on the season. Most would tell you that Tennessee's main goal for the season was to simply make ...

ESPN projects Tennessee to earn bowl bid

Can the Vols make it happen?

And just like that, Tennessee is back in the hunt for a bowl bid. The Vols upset No. 21 Auburn on the Plains on Saturday, stealing a win and getting to 3-3 on the season. Most would tell you that Tennessee’s main goal for the season was to simply make it back to a bowl game. They’ve now got a decent chance to do just that.

In fact, ESPN is projecting it to happen — at least one analyst is. Mitch Sherman has the Vols making another appearance in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, a game that Tennessee dominated back in 2015 against the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Sherman projects their opponent to be Wisconsin.

Tennessee still has to get to six wins, however. A gimme-win in Charlotte is likely the only sure thing remaining on Tennessee’s schedule. They’ll have to find two wins against South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt from there. That task seems much more realistic to accomplish after Saturday’s result.

Assuming they get to six wins, Tennessee could realistically land in almost any of the pool of six bowl games, which includes the Outback, Gator, Liberty, Texas, Belk and Music City Bowls. I’m sure Jeremy Pruitt would tell you that his program could use the extra game and the extra practices.

Buy now: “We have ourselves a football coach” T-Shirts from Breaking T

Tennessee is far from being “back,” but it’s hard to not have confidence in Jeremy Pruitt following the Vols’ upset of No. 21 Auburn. Tennessee hadn’t beaten an SEC West team since 2010. Jeremy Pruitt did it in his first try.

You can celebrate that win with this T-Shirt from Breaking T. It comes in sizes small through 3XL and is available for purchase now through this link.

The Flip Side: What to Worry About, What to Feel Good About Post Auburn Win – Rocky Top Talk


Rocky Top Talk

The Flip Side: What to Worry About, What to Feel Good About Post Auburn Win
Rocky Top Talk
Tennessee football does not have much to complain about after a 30-24 upset of the #21 Auburn Tigers. Saturday's victory broke a lengthy list of unenviable streaks for Tennessee's program, but more importantly, it was exactly the boost the team needed ...
Tennessee football: Watch Phillip Fulmer celebrating with Vols after Auburn winAll For Tennessee

Tennessee vs. Auburn RECAP, SCORE & STATS (10/13/18) | College Football Week 7NJ.com
Media floored by Jeremy Pruitt, Vols after win at Auburn247Sports
AL.com -Tenn Truth -Saturday Down South -AP News
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The Flip Side: What to Worry About, What to Feel Good About Post Auburn Win

Surprising developments everywhere!

Tennessee football does not have much to complain about after a 30-24 upset of the #21 Auburn Tigers. Saturday’s victory broke a lengthy list of unenviable streaks for Tennessee’s program, but more importantly, it was exactly the boost the team needed in Jeremy Pruitt’s first year. Bowl eligibility is still up in the air, but beating a ranked team on the road is a solid sign of progress.

Now we’ve had time to digest the game and take another look at the film. What are some developments that should excite Tennessee fans, and what are some that are still a concern? We give some notes and observations below.

Worry

Inefficient First Down Runs

Tennessee’s offense had a frustrating predictability when it came to first downs. The Volunteers insisted on inside runs that were by and large very unsuccessful. David Ubben at The Athletic tallied the yardage totals, and it turns out that Tennessee gained less than three yards on 14 of their 20 first down run attempts.

Most criticism has centered on Tyson Helton’s conservative play calling. That is a legitimate criticism, but I actually do not think it is the main problem with these first down situations. Tennessee’s offense did quite well on screen passes, swing passes, and shots down the field, thanks in large part to Auburn loading up the box to try and stop these runs.

The problem is one of efficiency. If you are going to broadcast that you will be running on first down, you need to ensure that the offensive line/running backs can consistently gain at least three yards per rush. That makes the later downs manageable and gives you more flexibility with second down and third down play calling. That simply hasn’t been the case for Tennessee in 2018. Their inability to turn these runs into positive yardage has stunted the offense and put them into more difficult situations.

Conservative Playcalling

Might as well get to it now. For whatever reason, Tennessee’s offense looked even more conservative than it did in previous games. Scoring 23 points on that side of the ball ultimately did help lead to victory, but it’s hard to get past the favorable turnover margin and wonder if Tennessee could have done even more with the opportunities given to them.

Most egregious was the series after Jonathan Kongbo picked off a desperation throw from Jarrett Stidham. The offense took the field at the Auburn 37-yard line, ran it twice in the middle for no gain, threw an incomplete pass, and punted.

Another contender would be early in the second quarter when Tennessee faced a third-and-11 at the Auburn 35. Instead of utilizing the receivers, Helton called a draw play that gained only four yards. Apparently the plan was to try and set up a field goal attempt of less than 50 yards. The kick was blocked, and Tennessee gave Auburn excellent field position to start their next drive. The defense was able to bail them out with an interception from Bryce Thompson, but it was a frustrating sequence to witness when the team just needed a touchdown to tie it up.

Credit needs to be given to Helton for taking risks later in the game, specifically on the Jauan Jennings touchdown and the 42-yard completion to Josh Palmer. Those are more in line with Tennessee’s strengths as an offense. Still, it’s a wonder why we didn’t see those types of calls in similar situations during the first half, even after it became clear that Auburn was starting to cheat in towards the box.

Tackling

There was a lot to like about the defense on Saturday, so this note is not as pressing of a concern. It still warrants mention that the secondary had a very rough time on Saturday with wrapping up. Both starting cornerbacks Alontae Taylor and Bryce Thompson missed easy tackles and let ball carriers slip free on potential stops.

Theo Jackson had the lowlight of the day in in Trevon Flowers’ absence, when he had a good angle on Auburn receiver Anthony Schwartz, but inexplicably stutter stepped and let Schwartz sprint past for a touchdown. Of course, the only reason Schwartz had that room was because Thompson somehow failed to bring him to the ground despite having both arms around him.

Overall it was quite a forgettable day in the tackling department. Pruitt has specifically mentioned tackling as an area of improvement, so he’s not going to be happy when reviewing the film and seeing how many plays Tennessee missed.

Feel Good

Pass Protection

The offensive line had arguably their best outing of the season against Auburn. The Tigers might not be especially good this year, but their defensive line contains multiple draft picks and highly rated players. Which makes it all the more impressive how Tennessee’s front five were able to protect Jarrett Guarantano on Saturday.

In fact, it was outright stunning. While the run game never got going, Tennessee’s offensive line provided Guarantano enough to time to make things happen down the field. Keep in mind that the interior had to be reshuffled because of injuries both before and during the game. It even required Nathan Niehaus to make his first career start and Jerome Carvin to come in as an offensive guard when Jahmir Johnson went down. Despite this, both performed admirably and complemented Drew Richmond and Trey Smith on the outside.

Perhaps this is the game where Tennessee’s line convinces Helton to start giving Guarantano even more chances to show what he’s capable of. If the line can replicate their performance (at least, in pass protection) then the Volunteers offense might turn a corner sooner rather than later.

Guarantano’s Potential

We’ve already mentioned the receivers being a bright spot for the team—now it is Guarantano’s turn for recognition.

Just last week, I criticized Guarantano’s tendency to hold on to the ball for too long and wait until a route was almost finished before throwing it. Suffice to say, he didn’t have that problem against Auburn, and instead turned in the best performance of his career.

His final stat line of 21-for-32, 328 passing yards, and two touchdowns on 10.3 yards per attempt should speak for itself. But it’s not just the numbers which make Guarantano’s day so impressive. A quick review of his completions shows Guarantano putting his receivers in prime position to make the receptions, with surprising accuracy on ball placement. It wasn’t just a hyper-athletic Marquez Callaway who benefitted. Josh Palmer, Jauan Jennings, and Ty Chandler each had explosive plays that were sparked by a quality pass.

All throughout Saturday afternoon, Guarantano made quick decisions and avoided costly mistakes. If it sounds like I’m gushing over his performance, it’s because I am. He looked massively improved from the Georgia contest.

It’s still too early to say that Guarantano is taking the next step towards being a “great” quarterback. That requires a level of consistency that he hasn’t shown just yet. But his game against Auburn proved that the potential is still there.

Defensive Adjustments

Tennessee’s defense didn’t inspire confidence on the first couple of Auburn drives. It almost looked like the Volunteers had studied another defense in the bye week, because the Tigers were moving down field on plays where Tennessee defenders were nowhere to be found. The corners could not press Auburn’s receivers and the defensive line alone was not getting any push.

The Vols flipped the script in the second half. The corners started to play off their assignments a bit and let the routes develop, and Stidham could not consistently deliver quick strikes to take advantage of it. Tennessee also sent defensive backs on more blitz plays, one of which from Baylen Buchanan helped lead to an interception. These blitz calls seriously disrupted Auburn’s attempts at side-to-side misdirection. The linebackers were also tasked with more help on stopping inside runs, which took its toll in the second half.

The numbers bear it out too. In the first half, Auburn ran 39 plays for 288 yards (7.4 yards per play). 182 of those were passing yards while 106 were rushing yards.

In the second half, Auburn ran 41 plays for 160 yards (3.9 yards per play). 140 of those were passing yards while 20 of those were rushing yards.

That is an incredible improvement. It is even better when you realize that Auburn’s last drive went 88 yards and mostly padded the stats when Tennessee already had the game in hand.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Pruitt Effect. Even if he doesn’t have the personnel he wants to run his system, you can bet that Pruitt will be putting his defense in the best position possible. His adjustments were fascinating to watch and were vital for Tennessee to pull off one of the biggest upsets in program history.

Jeremy Pruitt Is the Coaching Answer for Tennessee Volunteers—So Far – Newsweek


Newsweek

Jeremy Pruitt Is the Coaching Answer for Tennessee Volunteers—So Far
Newsweek
Pruitt spent his first month on the job balancing time between recruiting for the Vols and filling his obligations to his alma mater Alabama during the College Football Playoff, which resulted in a national championship. While some complained that his ...
Tennessee football: Watch Phillip Fulmer celebrating with Vols after Auburn winAll For Tennessee

Former Alabama linebacker praises Jeremy Pruitt on Twitter247Sports
Tennessee vs. Auburn RECAP, SCORE & STATS (10/13/18) | College Football Week 7NJ.com
Rocky Top Talk -Tenn Truth -Bleacher Report -AP News
all 608 news articles »

Jeremy Pruitt Is the Coaching Answer for Tennessee Volunteers—So Far – Newsweek


Newsweek

Jeremy Pruitt Is the Coaching Answer for Tennessee Volunteers—So Far
Newsweek
Pruitt spent his first month on the job balancing time between recruiting for the Vols and filling his obligations to his alma mater Alabama during the College Football Playoff, which resulted in a national championship. While some complained that his ...
Tennessee football: Watch Phillip Fulmer celebrating with Vols after Auburn winAll For Tennessee

Former Alabama linebacker praises Jeremy Pruitt on Twitter247Sports
Tennessee vs. Auburn RECAP, SCORE & STATS (10/13/18) | College Football Week 7NJ.com
Rocky Top Talk -Tenn Truth -Bleacher Report -AP News
all 608 news articles »

Tennessee OLB Jonathan Kongbo out for season with torn ACL – ESPN


ESPN

Tennessee OLB Jonathan Kongbo out for season with torn ACL
ESPN
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Volunteers coach Jeremy Pruitt says outside linebacker Jonathan Kongbo has a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the remainder of the season. Pruitt said Sunday on "The Nation" radio show that Kongbo tore his ...
Jeremy Pruitt explains Tyson Helton's move from the press box to the sidelinesRocky Top Talk

Tennessee football: Vols LB Jonathan Kongbo out for season in awful breakAll For Tennessee
Vols lose defensive starter to season-ending knee injury247Sports
atozsportsnashville.com
all 22 news articles »

Tennessee football: Vols LB Jonathan Kongbo out for season in awful break – All For Tennessee


All For Tennessee

Tennessee football: Vols LB Jonathan Kongbo out for season in awful break
All For Tennessee
Tennessee football senior Jonathan Kongbo suffered a season-ending injury Saturday. The Volunteers senior is out with a torn ACL. It honestly could not have been more unfair. Jonathan Kongbo had just played his best game of the season and showed what ...

and more »

Jonathan Kongbo Out for Rest of 2018 With Torn ACL

Rough development for the linebacker who just started to put it all together.

David Ubben of The Athletic is reporting that Tennessee outside linebacker Jonathan Kongbo will miss the rest of 2018 with a torn ACL.

Kongbo is a redshirt senior defender who arrived in Knoxville back in 2016 as the #1 JUCO recruit in the country. He contributed early in his Tennessee career, participating in 13 games during the 2016 regular season. He emerged in 2017 with 10 starts and 11 appearances, and many hoped his 2018 season would be his best yet.

That did not bear out initially. Kongbo struggled to make an impact through the first five games and became an afterthought in Jeremy Pruitt’s system. However, last Saturday’s upset over Auburn was looking like his best game of the season. He came up with a crucial interception and appeared more comfortable at the position.

Unfortunately for Kongbo, he was injured by a cut block late in the third quarter. He had to be assisted off the field and did not return to the game. He was replaced by DeAndre Johnson.

Kongbo finishes 2018 with 11 total tackles, four quarterback hurries, and one interception.

Tennessee vs. Alabama – 10/20/18 College Football Pick, Odds, and Prediction – Sports Chat Place (blog)


Sports Chat Place (blog)

Tennessee vs. Alabama - 10/20/18 College Football Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Sports Chat Place (blog)
The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Tennessee Volunteers meet in week 8 SEC conference action from Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Saturday afternoon. The Alabama Crimson Tide will look for another win to remain undefeated at the top of the college ...

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