Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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Tennessee football: Rapid reactions from Vols’ win vs. Kentucky

More Hendon Hooker to Jalin Hyatt for Tennessee football fans

Why not? For the fourth straight game, Jalin Hyatt had at least two touchdown receptions. In this game, he had six catches for 138 yards and two scores, including a 55-yard touchdown on the opening drive for Tennessee football.

Hendon Hooker did his part too, completing 19-of-25 passes for 245 yards, three touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Bru McCoy stepped up too with six catches for 54 yards, and Jabari Small had a TD grab, but once again, Hyatt was the star.

Secondary answered the challenge

After four straight games of allowing at least 300 yards through the air, four in which they allowed over 400 yards, the Vols’ secondary held Will Levis to under 100 yards passing and forced three interceptions. Linebacker Juwan Mitchell had the first, but it was because of a hit by Doneiko Slaughter.

Slaughter and Brandon Turnage each then intercepted a pass in the second half. What helped was the secondary was much closer to full strength, most notably with Jaylen McCollough back at safety in this one.

Rest of the defense was dominant too

It’s not like the secondary was the only part of the Vols’ defense that dominated. Kentucky scored just once, and it was on their second offensive drive. Other than that, they struggled offensively all night.

At one point with less than eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Kentucky had just five yards of offense in the second half. They finished with 205 yards of total offense, averaging just three yards on the ground.

Dave Hooker and Caleb Calhoun Tslk about the Vols win over Kentucky

Run game was dominant

We know about what Hooker was able to do through the air once again, but Tennessee football was dominant on the ground. Kentucky forced them to move the ball a bit more, and they answered the challenge.

UT had 39 carries for 176 yards on the night. Jabari Small had 21 carries for 78 yards, Jaylen Wright had seven carries for 73 yards and a touchdown, and Hooker had 10 carries for 23 yards and a score. Princeton Fant had another short touchdown run as well.

Lots of short fields

It wasn’t your typical Josh Heupel offense, as the Vols had just 421 yards of total offense in the game. However, that had a lot to do with them receiving lots of short fields. They benefitted from three interceptions and a bad punt.

The Vols started in Kentucky territory three times. It’s underrated how big this is, as Mark Stoops loves to rely on field position with his style, so the Vols winning that battle was a huge deal.

Field goal kicking the one concern

To be fair, this was on both sides, but Chase McGrath continues to somewhat regress. He missed an extra point for the second time in three weeks, and although it was a bad snap, he should’ve still made it.

Then McGrath missed a 37-yard field goal in the second half. Being automatic on extra points and within 40 yards has been his calling card, and although he still had that game-winner against the Alabama Crimson Tide, these miscues are concerning for Tennessee football going forward.

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