Vols win against Southern Miss 24-10
On a night when Tennessee’s offensive players were going down left and right, the Vols defense picked up the slack.
With UT nursing a 10-point lead late in the third quarter, the Vol defense came up with turnovers on back-to-back possessions deep in Southern Miss territory that led to Tennessee touchdowns and put the game out of reach for a comfortable 24-10 win Saturday evening.
The Vols (4-5, 0-5 SEC) managed just 210 yards of offense for the game and only 70 yards and four first downs in the second half, but Tennessee's defense forced a couple of key turnovers and four sacks, finished 13-of-20 on third down and limited Southern Miss (5-4, 3-2 C-USA) to 279 yards on 3.7 yards per play.
Tennessee managed just 107 yards rushing on 3 yards per carry as John Kelly (79 yards on 20 carries) was mostly bottled up, though he still scored two touchdowns in his first game back from a one-game suspension.
McBride was just 1-of-8 passing for 13 yards, and freshman Ty Chandler had just 15 yards on 11 carries.
The Vols did an excellent job defensively in limiting Southern Miss star Ito Smith to just 62 yards on 22 touches.
After playing just three plays in relief of Guarantano in the first half, McBride started and went the distance in a second half behind a patchwork offensive line with a first-time starter in Ryan Johnson and a right tackle in Devante Brooks who was playing in his first competitive game since 2013.
“To generate the turnovers but also the field position,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. “The field position was key and it sparks some momentum. We needed them to step up and they were able to do it.”
There was some causes for concern as The Vols beat Southern Miss 24-10 at Neyland Stadium while navigating the second half without starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who exited with an injury. This caused the RS player Will McBride to have to play and in that process losing his red shirt. While he played OK and managed the rest of the game, he only completed one pass for 13 yards and was 1-8 passing. Still Southern Miss gave up two turnovers and was penalized for over 120 yards. A win is a win but things will only get harder as the Vols will travel to Columbia to play a Missouri team that some had left for dead but is not trending up. Missouri struggled coming out this season with big losses to Kentucky, Auburn and South Carolina. Since then they have seemingly righted the ship. While wins over Idaho and Uconn is not that impressive they did score 45 points on the Florida team that while they lost their coach last week was still plenty talented. So in the last three game Missouri has put up 68,52 and now 45 points on teams. This could be trouble for a Tennessee team that one bad injury away from Will McBride running things with a depleted offensive line.
So while the win is a WIN. And we are glad for that, this by no means changes the perception of Jones of his staff and the future f the Vols going forward.=