By: The All Vol Call in Show Staff
I can't believe it's already September. It won't be long before the crisp Autumn breeze carries that perfect blended smell of fall foliage and football straight to our noses.
Tennessee looked the part of a top-10 team last week as it dismantled the ailing Cavaliers of Virginia. Arguably the most surprising aspect of the Vols' win was how ferocious the defense looked. While many were hoping to see the secondary tested, they weren't. That's partly due to the fact that the Cavs didn't really have time to drop back for many passes, due to the Tennessee defense being there to greet the quarterback and backfield as soon as the ball was snapped on seemingly every play.
Yes, it was Virginia. No, they're not a very good team. However, any time you can record 11 tackles for loss and four quarterback sacks, it doesn't really matter what level of competition it is; that's impressive. The Vols' front seven looked very very good.
On the same hand, Tennessee's offense looked to have some slight miscues, primarily on deep downfield passes. However, while many want to place the "blame" on Joe Milton, he wasn't the reason. We are one inch out of bounds, and one dropped pass away from talking about a vastly different game. Bru McCoy was just out of bounds on his touchdown catch. Ramel Keyton was going to walk right into the end zone himself if he would have hauled in the pass in question. That would have given Milton roughly 300 yards, four passing TD, two rushing TD, and no turnovers; insane numbers. The tale of the offense last week ended up being Jaylen Wright and Dylan Sampson, who showed that Tennessee may not just have the best RB room in the SEC, but one of the premier RB rooms in the whole country.
With Austin-Peay coming to town for the home opener, Tennessee has one more opportunity to fine-tune some of the slight offensive miscues that plagued the team in the passing game last week ahead of SEC play and a trip to The Swamp next Saturday.
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This is one of the easier predictions to make on the season. Tennessee will win the game, but there are some things I'd like to see ahead of the Florida match up. I would like to see the timing between Milton and the receivers lined out. Staying healthy is the most important thing in this game. I would like to see the secondary tested a little bit, but honestly don't see the Govs having enough time to deliver many downfield strikes. Honestly, it could be as many as four weeks before we see the Tennessee secondary tested. Aside from that, just take care of business, take care of the ball, and STAY HEALTHY. Nico will throw his first touchdown as a Tennessee Volunteer on Saturday in Neyland Stadium.
Prediction: Tennessee - 59 | Austin-Peay - 0
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Tennessee’s defense was explosive this week; more explosive than the offense that scored 49 points. Virginia isn’t good, we know that. However, Tennessee still man-handled a Power 5 team with little resistance. Tennessee ran the ball all over Virginia and I expect something similar this coming week against A-P. I don’t think Tennessee opens up the playbook this week (clearly), but I do think they sling the ball around a little more in order to prepare for week three in The Swamp. Tennessee: big, again.
Prediction: Tennessee - 66 | Austin-Peay - 6
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No disrespect to Austin Peay, but Tennessee’s defensive line absolutely feasted on Virginia’s offense, and the Cavaliers are a power-five team. That spells disaster for the Governors. I expect this one to be over by halftime, and for freshman Nico Iamaleava to get plenty of snaps
and hopefully the first passing touchdown of his young, promising career.
Prediction: Tennessee - 55 | Austin Peay - 9
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This game should not be close after the first quarter. I like Scotty Walden’s philosophy on offense and I’m sure the Govs will be just fine going forward. But this is a team that lost its opener to FCS Southern Illinois, 49-23. On the other hand, Tennessee is looking to work out some kinks before their trip to Gainesville. The Volunteers made quick work of Virginia using just the bare bones of their offense. With all the miscues and mental errors made, they still scored 49 points. Expect to see plenty of Nico Iamaleava and the rest of the young guys get some burn in the second half. 70 points is not too far-fetched.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tim Banks just needs a bit more from the secondary. I’d like to see Rickey Gibson and Jordan Matthews get in before it’s all said and done. Forcing a couple turnovers would do wonders for his confidence heading into the Florida game. James Pearce is here to stay, along with Tyler Baron and the rest of the defensive line, and I expect him, along with Aaron Beasley, to feast.
If there’s anything that needs a close look, it’s the preparedness of Josh Heupel and his squad for the Florida Gators.
Prediction: Tennessee - 70 | Austin-Peay - 7
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It's been a long time coming but the Vols return to Neyland Saturday. Tennessee takes on Austin-Peay in what should amount to little more than a glorified practice, and while they looked good in week one Tennessee has lots to work on.
Joe Milton gets his first start in Neyland in two years and it looks to be an exciting but friendly environment Saturday. The offense will face little resistance and continue to pad some early season stats.
Special teams will be able to work out some kinks from week one, although the punt team may not get to see much action. Also getting work in will be lots and lots of back ups. Expect to see Nico Iamaleava early in the 3rd quarter as this game will probably be wrapped up by the end of the first.
Bring the kids, enjoy the tailgate and have a nice little Saturday.
Prediction: Tennessee - 66 | Austin-Peay - 7
Junior Staff Writer
Not only will this be our first look at the 2023 football Vols in Neyland, but we get our first look at the new Smokey Grays that the team will be donning in honor of Condredge Holloway.
There really isn’t much to go over here against Austin-Peay; it’s an FCS opponent that lost to Southern Illinois last week 49-23.
The Vols will easily handle their business here. I just want to see the offense get into a rhythm, the OL continue to gel & play well, the defense to continue to wreak havoc like they did against UVA, & most important of all -- STAY HEALTHY. Prediction: Tennessee - 62 | Austin Peay - 10
Junior Staff Writer
With the win last week, the Vols moved up three spots and now reside in the top ten at no. 9. This week they play Austin-Peay, who shouldn't be anything more than a warm-up game before they head to the Swamp next week. The Governors started the season with a 49-23 loss to Southern Illinois and their visit to Knoxville won't be a pleasurable one.
Coach Heupel, who is seeking his 20th win at the helm of the Volunteers, will be looking to find tune and clean up any mistakes that are lingering. Austin-Peay just wants to get in and out of Knoxville unscathed and with a paycheck for their services. This is the last dress rehearsal before the Vols enter conference play, so they need to make sure their I's are dotted and T's are crossed.
Offensively the Vols had a solid game last week led by QB Joe Milton's four total TDs (2 passing & 2 rushing) and RB Dylan Sampson's four scores (3 rushing & 1 receiving). Defensively Tennessee got some valuable experience for their young guys and EDGEs Tyler Baron and James Pearce Jr. shined with two sacks each. the Vols will look to utilize all their weapons once again this week.
Tennessee leads the series 1-0 all time with that lone game coming in 2013, which the Vols dominated with a convincing 45-0 win. Here we are ten years later for a rematch and I expect the result to be very similar. Get your starters their reps and then get the youngsters some experience. The Vols roll in this one.
Prediction: Tennessee - 59 | Austin-Peay - 3
Junior Staff Writer
Austin-Peay head coach Scotty Walden has built a respectable FCS program in Clarksville, with a 17-11 record heading into his 3rd season. Regardless, the talent level is different in the SEC, and this game is unlikely to remain competitive for long.
I am curious to see if UT dials up a few more intermediate-to-deep passes for both their QB’s this week, or if they continue to roll with a vanilla, run-heavy approach similar to last week. I’d also like to see the defense log some takeaways, as they were unable to do so last week despite an otherwise strong performance. This should be an enjoyable, stress-free night under the Neyland lights.
Prediction: Tennessee - 62 | Austin Peay - 7
LAST WEEK'S PREDICTIONS: (Result)
Dunn: 49-10 (+3)
Hubbard: 52-13 (+3)
Moore: 48-16 (+4)
Shelby: 45-14 (+5)
Davis: 45-17 (+8)
Strickland: 45-17 (+8)
Winstead: 43-16 (+9)
Bowlin: 38-13 (+11)