The good, the bad and the ugly from Tennessee’s 42-41, double-overtime win against Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Monday:
The Good: Marquez Callaway had himself a nice coming-out party in Atlanta, with four receptions for 115 yards and two touchdowns. John Kelly showed why he’s the SEC’s most underrated runningback, with 128 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries. Freshman backup Ty Chandler only carried once, but it was productive — a seven-yard gain in the first quarter. Quinten Dormady played well once he got settled in. He finished 20 of 37 for 221 yards and two touchdowns and proved that he is the starter for good. Tennessee’s will to win. The Vols never gave up, even when just about everyone else in Atlanta had given up on them.
The Bad: The play of the offensive line in the first half, when they couldn’t open holes for Kelly or provide protection for Dormady. The performance of the Big Ten officiating crew, which nearly gave the game away on several missed calls at critical moments (including a blatant block in the back that wasn’t called, helping Georgia Tech set up a game-winning field goal try at the end of regulation). All the dropped balls by the receivers in the first half. Jarrett Guarantano’s body language on the sideline. Buck up, young man; you’re one play away from being QB1 and your team will need you. The injury to Jauan Jennings, Tennessee’s top receiver, who will miss up to 12 weeks with a dislocated wrist.
The Ugly: Tennessee’s defense. Sure the flexbone option is difficult to prep for, but what we saw on display in Atlanta was scary bad. The Vols had terrible tackling technique, terrible cutback discipline, terrible pursuit angles. Whatever Bob Shoop was trying to do schematically did not work. UT gave up 535 yards of rushing, the most ever given up by a Tennessee defense in 121 years of playing college football. And Georgia Tech’s new quarterback, Taquon Marshall, had a career night in his very first game, with 249 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. A kid who was recruited by the likes of Jacksonville State, Kennesaw State, Georgia Southern and Wofford put up Heisman-like numbers against the Vols.
The Ridiculous: That &$*@! trash can. Unless we can use the can to dispose of Guarantano’s attitude and Shoop’s gameplan, let’s can the can — and whatever other gimmicks Butch Jones has up his sleeve for this season.