In the 35-17 victory versus Mississippi State last Saturday, Tennessee returned to the old signature style of hard-hitting, and tough-running SEC football the Volunteers are recognized for.
Using a two tight-end offense to balance up the Miss State defense, the Vols took the pressure off James Banks and turned to the running backs to carry the load, gaining more that 230 yards of the ground. UT tailback Cedric Houston pounded the ball for a career-high 149 yards on 32 carries, with 120 of those yards in the first half and two touchdowns in the second quarter. Even though James Banks Completed only three passes out of eight attempts, great play calling by offensive coordinator Randy sanders took advantage of an aggressive Joe Lee Dunn defense. Sanders called a 39 yd throw-back pass to Jason Whitten for a touchdown. He called a screen to wide receiver C. J. Fayton for 56 yards to the Mississippi State five-yard line on the prior drive.
Earlier in the week Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis discussed how important it was to cause turnovers and get defensive scores. Other than a touchdown pass from Mississippi State’s quarterback Kevin Fant to tight-end Donald Lee with 5:28 left in the second quarter and a four yard touchdown in the third quarter by Justin Griffin, the Vols defense was solid causing three turnovers, two leading to offensive touchdowns and a nine yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by defensive lineman Rashad Moore. Bulldog quarterback Kevin Fant was under pressure and hit the majority of the game, being sacked four times, leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
The Volunteers went back to the basics, playing tough defense, causing turnovers and running the ball effectively. Tennessee outplayed Mississippi State on offense and defense, special teams and showed more composure. The Bulldogs had costly personal foul penalties that gave the Volunteers good field position and kept offensive drives going.
Tennessee ran the ball 64 times against MSU, controlling the game on the ground. Vol quarterback James Banks made plays, but his inexperience showed at times with mistakes in play calling which lead to missed protections and busted plays. The Volunteers are hoping to get Casey Clausen back on the field next Saturday vs. Vanderbilt bringing added experience and a more balanced attack to the Volunteer’s offense.

Comments are closed.