Tennessee took the field on Saturday in hopes of sending out the seniors with a win and giving the program some kind of momentum. That thought process went out the back door quickly, and Texas A&M would cruise to a 34-13 win.
Harrison Bailey received the start for Tennessee. The Vols started off the game with a beautiful five-play, 75-yard drive, that ended with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Wa ren. The drive only took up 2:32 and the Vols looked to have a spark.
But the fuzzy feelings didn’t last long. Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond and the Aggies drove down the field for the 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. It was methodical and Mond was consistent in his line checks and not getting himself into trouble. The Tennessee defensive line had a hard time getting any pressure on Mond all day.
The Aggies continued to pressure the Vols on offense, driving the field on a 12-play, 69-yard touchdown possession. Again, the Vols defense was picked apart by this Aggie offense, giving up multiple plays across the middle and on the ground.
The best play of the day from Tennessee came from a J.T. Shrout dime. Cedric Tillman might have had the best catch of the year, with his diving grab after a 46-yard pass from Shrout.
The Vols only trailed 17-13 at this point, but it still felt far away.
After the Aggies put together another touchdown drive, they led 24-13 at halftime. Again, the Vols give up another touchdown drive in the last few minutes of the 1st half. This seems like a record on repeat.
Tennessee only rushed for 17 yards in the first half, which could partly be blamed on the absence of Eric Gray. Earlier in the day, I published a story regarding NCAA and University compliance investigating Tennessee football for recruiting violations and impermissible benefits.
Jeremy Pruitt said postgame that Gray was “Unavailable” on the day.
The point is, Tennessee had it for about three minutes. The total time of possession had A&M having the ball for over 44 minutes. That is completely unacceptable.
The Vols only rushed for seven yards in the 2nd half, So, even with only Cade Mays out, they rushed for a meaningless seven yards.
Bailey finished the game 6-of-6 for 85 yards and one touchdown, but the freshman had two fumbles. Shrout finished 6-of-14 for 104 yards, with one touchdown and one late interception.
This was domination by the Aggies, there’s no other way to put it. The Aggies had 497 total yards, compared to 213 for the Vols. Tennessee couldn’t guard the slant, couldn’t stop the run and were gassed by Mond for most of the game.
This was a very disappointing ending for Tennessee and Pruitt, especially with the final record sitting at 3-7. The Vols might get an opportunity to play in a bowl game, but that’s still up in the air.
In all honesty, I am not certain Pruitt will be around Knoxville after Christmas. The University Of Tennessee has a very big decision to make and it seems they’ve got all the ammo they need.