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Vol Stocks: Guys We Liked, Didn’t Like In Win Over Indiana State

Tennessee beat Indiana State 42-7 on Saturday in a pretty-much-what-we-expected performance in the home opener. The Vols outgained the Sycamores 395-215 in total yards, never really feeling any pressure from the visitors. Quinten Dormady played most of the game, but Jarrett Guarantano had a few drives to showcase some of his abilities and even threw his first career touchdown pass. Here’s the stock report from the game.

Stock Rising

Carlin Fils-aime — The sophomore running back didn’t impress or disappoint in the Orange and White game in the spring, so Vol fans didn’t expect too much from the Florida native. Despite seeing just three touches on Saturday, two of them went to the checkerboards. The first featured a nice truck-stick near the goal line, and the second showed a nice burst through a big hole to go 30 yards for the score.

 

Brandon Johnson — Johnson was one of my Vols to watch today, and even though the statline won’t blow you away, he provided a quality target for Dormady. Johnson’s route on the touchdown (shown below) was a beauty, and he was crisp and reliable past the sticks as Dormady spread the ball around. He’ll need to build on this performance to help an “eh” Tennessee offense impress next week against Florida.

Special Teams — Ty Chandler and Marquez Callaway might strike as much fear into opposing kickers as Evan Berry and Cam Sutton did at the kick and punt returner positions this year. Despite Berry dressing for today’s game, Indiana State elected to kick deep to the Vols to open the game and paid the price. Chandler took that kick 91 yards all the way to the house to give Tennessee a 7-0 lead without the offense taking a snap. Callaway didn’t reach paydirt, but was electric as ever as a punt returner, taking one 36 yards and threatening to go the distance. He sidestepped multiple would-be tacklers on seemingly every return and continues to be a scoring threat every time he touches the ball. Aaron Medley hit touchbacks on every kickoff and Trevor Daniel added a booming first-half punt.

Stock Holding

Quinten Dormady — It’s tough to judge Dormady’s overall performance today. We can’t forget two really poor overthrows down the field where it all but seemed like freshman Josh Palmer had walk-in touchdowns if the ball is on target. However, Dormady was pretty accurate at short and medium range, finishing 13 for 18 and passing for 194 yards and two touchdowns. The pass to Johnson was a beauty, but that was basically negated later when Dormady threw a bad interception in the end zone in the third quarter. We didn’t see enough from Guarantano to say we should have a quarterback controversy, but it’s safe to say not many fans will be totally confident in him heading to the Swamp next week.

Jonathan Kongbo — Kongbo was in Indiana State quarterback Cade Sparks’ face for most of the day, but he struggled at getting pressure on the Sycamores’ repeated jet sweeps and outside runs. He was stuck in no-man’s land for most of the day, but so was most of the defensive line en route to giving up 122 yards on the ground. Kongbo needs to be more aggressive against the run for a defensive line that still has a lot to prove.

Stock Falling

Coaching — It really didn’t seem like the gameplan for Saturday was too difficult for the Tennessee coaching staff. However, the Vols looked outmatched on the perimeter again at times on defense as the Sycamores ran jet sweep after jet sweep after jet sweep. Indiana State threw a lot of pre-snap motion at the Vols, and the defense tried to move guys around just as much to keep up. That movement caught the Vols way out of sorts, most notably on the only allowed touchdown of the day and in some first down runs. Tennessee was bigger, faster and better than Indiana State or it could’ve been much worse. On the other side of the ball, why was John Kelly still getting carries with under three minutes to go in the third quarter? The Vols have young talent at running back, but nothing that compares to Kelly in terms of experience. An injury to him takes away the Vols’ most dependable option, and Butch would’ve been under a lot of heat if Kelly went down in the game.

Line play — I already hit on some of the defensive line, but to reiterate: it wasn’t a terrible day, but it wasn’t fantastic, either. The Vols didn’t get much backfield pressure on the Sycamores despite holding solid in front of the sticks all game long. The offensive line was as much of “eh” as the defensive line was. Tennessee’s running backs didn’t always have holes to run through, and they didn’t stay open long when they did. Dormady and Guarantano both took a few shots today after delivering some passes, and Drew Richmond had one of the weirdest attempted blocks I’ve ever seen.

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