Vols

 

The game didn’t start on the best of terms. A loud crowd of  87,397 fans watched South Carolina QB Ryan Hilinski hit Shi Smith for a 75-yard touchdown, just eleven seconds into the game. The Vols defense didn’t blink though, as they held the gamecocks to just 14  points the rest of the way.

Tennessee had shown signs of improvement under this coaching staff in the past four weeks, tonight they put it all together. A team coming off a gut-wrenching 4th quarter in Tuscaloosa & a week of trying to figure out who would lead the Vols at the QB position, Redshirt Freshman, JT Shrout got the start tonight, though Jauan Jennings actually took the first snap on a wildcat formation. It was obvious what the gameplan was for Jim Chaney & Jeremy Pruitt, getting JT some reps, then bringing in Guarantano to seek redemption.

When Marquez Callaway returned a punt 65-yards for a touchdown, fans could see that Tennessee was ready to fight. Tonight was all about redeeming some of the lost trust that Tennessee fans have been feeling, but for the players, it was about finally putting it all together.

Tennessee defeated South Carolina for the first time since 2015 tonight. They wouldn’t have been able to accomplish that without the play of Jauan Jennings, Jarrett Guarantano, Trey Smith & many more players that were trying to make a statement. Jauan Jennings is a player that has a special place in all Tennessee fans hearts, not just because he catches touchdowns. The young man has continued to prove & build himself up over the past few years, especially when at one time his time in Knoxville was coming to an end.

Jarrett Guarantano hit Jauan Jennings for a gritty 48-yard TD late in the second quarter, that gave the Vols a brief 17-14 lead. It was this type of play that has endeared Jennings into the hearts of the “Big Orange Faithful”. A play that should’ve ended at the 20-yard line was turned into a touchdown, all because Jennings saw the endzone & wasn’t going to be denied.

 

Jauan Jennings finished the night with 7 receptions for 174 yards & 2 touchdowns, while also running the ball at times out of the wildcat formation (He actually took the 1st snap of the game), finishing with 18 yards on the ground.

 

One player who wanted one more chance at redeeming himself was Jarrett Guarantano. After a wild week in Knoxville, coming off the play in Tuscaloosa, many weren’t sure what to make of it all. JG said he apologized to his teammates & coaching staff this past week, after going into business for himself. Jeremy Pruitt never publicly wavered in his support for Guarantano, he truly believed in the young man, even when there were multiple opportunities to stop.

 

Guarantano went 11-19 for 229 yards & 2 TD’s on Saturday evening, but unfortunately suffered a broken bone in his left hand, which cut short his night. He will have surgery, a team spokesman has confirmed tonight.

JT Shrout came back into the game on Saturday night and went 7-11 for 122 yards & 1 TD. He handled the offense well, while also connecting with Callaway for a 55-yard TD pass that had Neyland Stadium rocking.

When we talk about leadership on the defense, it starts with Daniel Bituli, who had 15 total tackles ( 11 solo) on Saturday night. But, the biggest play from Bituli came on special teams, when he blocked a punt & then scooped it up for the Touchdown. That play put the game away for the Vols, which is fitting that it came from a group Jeremy Pruitt takes so much pride in.

 

As the final seconds started to tick off the clock on a cloudy evening, the Tennessee players felt a sense of joy, something that carried into the student section. Thanks to OL Trey Smith, this celebration will probably never be forgotten.

 

 

Tennessee moves to 3-5 on the year, with UAB coming to town next weekend for homecoming. I’ll tell ya this, if the Vols can continue playing with this much heart & determination, November might bring some more memorable moments, that could possibly continue being made in December.

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