The Tennessee Vols did what they were supposed to do in Josh Heupel’s debut as UT’s head coach on Thursday night against Bowling Green.
UT easily won by a wide margin, taking down Bowling Green 38-6.
That was the main goal for the Vols — win by at least a couple of scores (fans can’t be mad at any non-conference win after watching UT lose to Georgia State in 2019).
But that doesn’t mean it’s time to start hyping Tennessee.
In fact, after Thursday night’s game, it’s clear that UT has a lot of work to do if they’re going to be relevant in the SEC.
For starters, the Volunteers’ offense disappeared at times against Bowling Green — one of the worst FBS teams in the nation.
Tennessee jumped out to a quick lead, scoring on each of their first two possessions to lead 14-0 early.
The Vols didn’t score again the rest of the first half. That’s something that can’t happen in the SEC if Tennessee is going to compete in the SEC East.
Quarterback Joe Milton never really found his groove against Bowling Green. Milton overthrew a couple of wide receivers on deep passes while throwing for 140 yards on 11-of-22 passing — not the type of numbers we’re accustomed to seeing from a quarterback playing in Heupel’s system.
(Milton also rushed 14 times for 44 yards and and two touchdowns.)
Part of the reason Milton didn’t put up gaudy numbers against Bowling Green was because he consistently held onto the ball too long. Milton looked timid in an offense that likes to let the quarterback “rip it all over the field”.
Milton had plenty of time to throw on Thursday night — the offensive line did a tremendous job — he just simply didn’t look like an SEC quarterback.
Other issues for the Vols included wide receivers dropping too many passes. And the offense committing too many penalties.
Of course, it’s a new offense for the Vols. Everyone is getting adjusted. It would be unfair to pass judgment too early.
But there’s no doubt that Tennessee has to play better against SEC competition, otherwise it could be a very long season.
A bright spot for the Tennessee Vols
The Vols’ running game was tremendous against Bowling Green.
Tiyon Evans looked like a cross between Alvin Kamara and Cordarrelle Patterson while rushing for 120 yards on 16 carries.
— Reece Van Haaften (@Reece_VH) September 3, 2021
Jabari Small rushed for 117 yards on 22 carries.
Bowling Green doesn’t have a great run defense and the Vols took advantage — just like we expected they would.
Next up for the Vols is a game against Pittsburgh in Neyland Stadium in week two.
Featured image via USA TODAY SPORTS