LITTLE COUSIN COMES TO TOWN: Staff predictions for Tennessee vs. Tennessee Tech
By: The All Vol Call in Show staff
The Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles travel the short distance to Knoxville this Saturday to take on the home-standing Volunteers in the seventh installment of this series. For back-to-back weeks, Tennessee will play at noon, and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+. The Vols have played the Golden Eagles six times throughout history, and have won all six matchups.
Beginning in 1947 this one-sided series looks exactly like it should; dominated by Tennessee. The Vols average 49.5 points-per-game against the Golden Eagles, and that's without Josh Heupel's high-scoring offense. The teams played annually from 1974-1951, before a 66-year gap in the series. Tennessee Tech came to Knoxville again in 2016, and it was the last time the two teams played prior to this season.
In six games against the Volunteers, the Golden Eagles have scored a total of 20 points; six points in 1949, and 14-points in 1950. Tennessee has outscored Tennessee Tech 297-20 in the series' history.
The Volunteers are coming off of a very winnable game against the Pittsburgh Panthers in which self-inflicted errors ended up costing Tennessee a win against another Power Five program early in Josh Heupel's tenure. Three turnovers and 134 yard in penalties saw Tennessee fall 41-34 at home in their second game of the season. However, they never felt out of the game. Even when the team fell behind by more than a single possession, the game never felt out of reach.
It wasn't until the final drive of the game, when the Vols threw a critical interception, that the game felt out of reach, and inevitably was out of reach, allowing Pittsburgh to kill the clock and escape with a one-touchdown victory in the Johnny Majors Classic.
With Joe Milton overthrowing a few open receivers, and Hendon Hooker turning the ball over twice, many Tennessee fans were left asking what the Vols needed to do at quarterback in order to move past these self-inflicted wounds.
Against Tennessee Tech, expect the Tennessee coaching staff to play all three quarterbacks. If Milton is healthy enough to play, it will be a great opportunity for him to get some extra practice in, in an effort to help his accuracy. No offense to the Eagles, but this is all but a glorified practice for the Vols as they prepare to open SEC play against Florida the following week in The Swamp.
If the coaching staff is dead-set on starting Milton from here on, it's crucial that he gets his deep ball, and accuracy, under control now. Outside of Vanderbilt, the schedule doesn't get any easier from here. If they choose to develop Hooker more, this will also be an opportunity for the Vols to see exactly what he may be capable of with both his arm, and legs.
I expect for the staff to finally field Harrison Bailey. He will have a good game, because the competition level isn't up-to-snuff with the SEC talent pool, which will lead the various armchair quarterbacks to discredit any sort of success he may have. However, Bailey will finally see the field, and the staff may inevitably see something out of him that makes sets him aside from the other two quarterbacks.
I'm not saying that Bailey needs to start every game, or even at all, however, I do think he is the most rawly talented quarterback on the roster. If it is a matter of the playbook, or schemes that he is having trouble with, fix it. That's your job as a coach. That being said, I trust the staff to make the right decisions at each position until given reason not to trust them.
I fully expect Tennessee to handle business as they should, and win by a considerable amount. The main focus out of this game should be to get high-quality reps, work on a few areas that need to be fine-tuned, and come out of the game with zero injuries. The scoreboard is the least important part of the game Saturday, and it will absolutely be a sleeping-blowout.
Prediction: Tennessee - 63 | Tennessee Tech - 7
(Junior Staff Writer)
Coming off a loss to Pittsburgh, this should be a game that the Vols look to use to get back on track and fine-tune some stuff. The Golden Eagles are 0-2 on the year with losses to Furman (26-0) and Samford (52-14).
The Tennessee Tech offense shouldn’t be much of a challenge for the Volunteer defense as they average just one touchdown in two games, and have only put up a combined 352 total yards of offense in those two games, compared to Tennessee’s 849 total yards of offense.
As far as what Tech has done themselves on offense, let’s just say it isn’t spectacular. Their quarterback, Davis Shanley, has thrown one touchdown and has been picked off four times. This should be an opportunity for Tennessee's secondary to show out. On the ground, the Eagles' leading rusher has carried the ball 26 times for a total of 104 yards, with one touchdown. The Tennessee defensive line should be able to be in the Golden Eagles backfield some as well, as they have given up six sacks so far this year. Look for Byron Young to make a potential impact in his first game.
This should be an easy win for the Vols, and a chance to put up some points.
Prediction: Tennessee - 52 | Tennessee Tech - 9
(Senior Staff Writer)
The biggest question coming out of Knoxville is: 'who should be the starting quarterback?'
Following an injury to Joe Milton versus Pittsburgh last week, Hendon Hooker came in and almost brought the Vols back to win the game. Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel was asked about sophomore quarterback Harrison Bailey in his press conference Thursday, saying "he is a good leader on the team", but Bailey has yet to see a snap this season.
A lot of players should play Saturday when the Vols host OVC opponent Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles lost their first two games by a combined score of 78-14, losing the last contest 26-0 to Furman. Tennessee pass rusher Byron Young is expected to make his debut after being sidelined due to an NCAA technicality and running backs Jabari Small and Tiyon Evans look to be a game time decision.
Prediction: Tennessee - 58 | Tennessee Tech - 9
(Junior Staff Writer)
On Saturday, a bunch of young men from Tennessee who probably dreamed of playing for the Vols will run out of the tunnel to thousands of screaming fans at Neyland Stadium. Unfortunately for them, they'll be playing for Tennessee Tech.
The Vols host Tennessee Tech in a paycheck game to tune-up for Florida next week. This will be a practice-game for the budding quarterback controversy as Joe Milton gave way to Hendon Hooker last Saturday. When Milton went down with an injury, Hooker came in and looked serviceable, and most importantly did not overthrow guaranteed touchdowns.
Also, this could be an opportunity for Harrison Bailey to crack the lineup for the first time this season. For Vol fans, this will be only the 5th win for Tennessee in the last 625 days. So, try to enjoy it. College football has an incredibly short season, and we should take this moment to soak in the fact our beloved Vols will outscore an opponent. Cheer for the touchdowns and defensive plays, take the kids to the game, buy some hot dogs and enjoy your Saturday.
Prediction: Tennessee - 56 | Tennessee Tech - 3
(Junior Staff Writer)
Tennessee will win this game. It’s all about having a clean and injury free game. The Volunteers will use Saturday as a glorified practice in preparation for Florida next week. Once again, the quarterbacks will be the main topic. Josh Heupel has been very vague about which will start. Honestly, we just want to see some consistent play from any of the three.
Prediction: Tennessee - 47 | Tennessee Tech - 10
(Junior Staff Writer)
Following the first loss of the young season, the Vols have a chance to lick their wounds, get key players healthy and rested, and do some offensive tinkering against an overmatched Tennessee Tech team. It’s important to iron out as many kinks as possible this Saturday, because seven straight SEC games await, starting with next week’s trip to Gainesville where the Vols haven’t won since 2001.
Naturally, all eyes will be on the quarterback position, and in what manner Heupel will divvy up the reps between Milton (if healthy), Hooker, and possibly Bailey. I’m paying close attention to the pass rush, to see if the debut of Byron Young can inject some life into a front-seven that has stopped the run well, but has only produced two sacks per game up to this point.
The Vols have won their last two games over TTU by a combined score of 123-0, and my bold prediction is that the embattled defense dominates, and once again, manages to keep the Golden Eagles off the scoreboard.
Prediction: Tennessee - 51 | Tennessee Tech - 0
(Junior Staff Writer)
Tennessee faces a great bounce back opportunity this week, after last week’s tough loss to Pittsburgh. There were some positives from that game, such as how the offense was able to move with Hooker in the game. Tennessee's offense should continue this momentum, and should be unstoppable if the run game can get moving this week.
The defense continued to struggle, but fortunately the Golden Eagles have not been able to get things going offensively, totaling just 121 total yards of offense last week. This game should hypothetically act as a live-scrimmage for the big game at Florida next week, allowing Heupel to continue to work out the offensive kinks and try to get the defense on the same page before the Vols' first big test.
Overall Tennessee should dominate this game from endzone to endzone, and sideline to sideline all afternoon, giving up little on either side of the ball.
Prediction: Tennessee - 42 | Tennessee Tech - 3