Tennessee Game Grades: Western Carolina

Here are my grades for Tennessee’s performance against Western Carolina, a 55-10 victory for the Vols.

Tennessee Game Grades: Western Carolina

Offense: A

As with any game against an out-matched opponent, you want to go in and do what you need to do and ideally do it without getting any serious injuries. The Volunteer offense did that tonight. The execution was mostly smooth.

Quarterback: B+

Joshua Dobbs had more time to throw tonight than he did against Oklahoma, and it showed as the passing game looked better. Dobbs still didn’t shine though. He didn’t make any big throws that really highlighted his arm. He’s still looking for a consistent game through the air this season. What was noteworthy was the amount of work Quinten Dormandy was able to get in running the offense. And Dormandy did have some nice passes. Overall, Dobbs did what he had to do to guide the offense to an easy victory.

Running Backs: A+

Jalen Hurd had another punishing game, scoring a rushing and receiving touchdown. And Alvin Kamara was able to get some meaningful rushes as well, although his moment came in the punt return game. There is plenty of tape of Kamara’s speed and Hurd’s hard running for Florida to look at. Western Carolina’s defense just had no answer for this dynamic duo, particularly Hurd’s physical running style.

Receivers: B+

Rookie Preston Williams had a big game, and again the receiving corps was solid, but there were still two passes – one to Josh Malone and one to Josh Smith – that you’d like to see get made. The Malone pass was flagged for interference, but it was still catchable. Overall, a quiet game from the receivers and the competition level pushes their grades down a bit.

Offensive Line: A

Again, no obvious missed assignments that created blown up plays. And they were able to win at the point of attack for the most part. Very little pressure on the quarterbacks during passing situations as well. Their task will get much tougher next week as Florida will probably be the second-toughest defensive line they play all year.

Defense: A

The defense again looked good. They gave up almost nothing the Catamounts until a late touchdown against the entire second team that was enabled by a horrible no-call. If the defense can continue playing at this level, the Vols will have a real shot to get to the eight or nine-win plateau this year.

Defensive Line: A

The Catamounts couldn’t control the line of scrimmage, couldn’t run the ball, and had a hard time protecting the quarterback. The defensive line was constantly pushing the Carolina line back. Not a lot of gaudy statistics, but the film clearly shows a very good performance from this unit.

Linebackers: A

Tennessee used some different personnel looks at linebacker and they were successful. The Vols linebackers were able to clean up anything that got past the line (not a lot) and controlled the edges of the line of scrimmage all night (fairly easily). It’s hard to really gauge how good they looked simply because of the competition.

Defensive Backs: A+

The Catamounts tallied a total of 90 yards passing. LaDarrell McNeil had an interception and nothing got past the secondary. Again, it’s hard to judge this unit because of the mismatch, but they sure did look better than week one. And Justin Martin got some work in as well. This unit looks to be coming together, but with everyone else, they’ll be tested much more next week.

Special Teams: A

An inspirational kick-off return by Evan Berry with his big brother and Vol hero Eric Berry on the sidelines and a punt return by Alvin Kamara highlighted a great night by the special teams. Aaron Medley seemed to finally be dialed in, making two field goals. The only drawback was some unexpected struggles on kick off for Medley. But the coverage and defense made it negligible.

Coaching: B+

The coaches did a great job of having the team focused on Western Carolina after an emotional let down last week and a huge game coming up against Florida. We’ve seen some wacky stuff in college football this season, so it wasn’t unimaginable that the Vols could have gotten mired in this game. Additionally, they put some new wrinkles – chief among them Jennings in the wildcat – on film for the Florida coaches to look at this week.

All in all, a good performance for the Vols tonight.

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