The Vols vs. UAB
Carlin Fils-aime, #27, tackles an opposing player at the UAB football game in Neyland Stadium on Saturday, November 2, 2019.

Tennessee picked up win number four of the season on Saturday night in Neyland Stadium as the Vols knocked off UAB 30-7 on homecoming.

The Vols’ defense dominated as Tennessee’s offense struggled to find consistency throughout the game.

Here’s how the Vols graded out.

Quarterback

Brian Maurer missed his second straight game Saturday as the Vols’ freshman continues to recover from the two concussions he suffered last month.

Redshirt-freshman J.T. Shrout got to start for Tennessee but played just the initial drives of each half and some mop up duty in the fourth quarter.

The California native went 3-for-6 passing for 34 yards.

Jarrett Guarantano, who had surgery on his broken left wrist just six days prior to the game, played the bulk of the action for Tennessee.

Guarantano was under pressure for most of the night as he recorded 147 yards on 12-of-21 passing. Guarantano added a touchdown but also a costly interception in the end zone that cost the Vols points going into halftime.

Given his injury and what he was asked to do, Guarantano’s performance was solid but some of his past faults, holding onto the ball and red zone turnovers, showed up on Saturday.

Grade: C+

Running backs

Tim Jordan had all the mojo at the running back spot coming out of the Alabama game, but Ty Chandler has seized the majority of carries in the past two games as the junior tailback turned in another solid performance Saturday.

The Nashville native was the bell cow of Tennessee’s offense, running for 85 yards on 16 carries and recording a touchdown.

Eric Gray struggled to find any room to run behind a struggling offensive line recording just eight yards on eight carries, but the freshman recorded his first career touchdown in the win on a 13-yard catch.

Grade: B

Receivers/ Tight ends

It was a minimal day for the Vols’ receivers as the group recorded just seven catches for 84 yards in the win.

Jauan Jennings led the way for the group recording five catches for 70 yards. Jennings also added his eighth touchdown of the season as he ran one in from three yards out of the wildcat.

With five-star tight end recruit Darnell Washington on campus the Vols got their tight ends more involved Saturday than they have the rest of the season.

Dominick Wood-Anderson led the way for the group catching three passes for 34 yards, but three other Tennessee tight ends caught passes in the win.

Grade: B-

Offensive line

Tennessee’s offensive line has showed tremendous growth this season, but the unit took a step back Saturday as the Vols offensive line struggled to create holes or protect the passer well.

Tennessee was without starting right tackle Darnell Wright or utility lineman Jahmir Johnson as the unit remains banged up.

Freshman left tackle Wanya Morris missed practice time this week after sustaining an injury against South Carolina. Morris suited up Saturday but had a tough night getting benched in the first half after giving up multiple pressures.

In total, the offensive line gave up two sacks on the game and struggled to consistently create running lanes as the Vols’ backs averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and as a team the Vols recorded just 3.1 yards per carry.

Additionally, Tennessee’s running backs had 11 yards worth of negative plays on the night.

Grade: D+

Defensive line

Tennessee’s defensive line didn’t light up the stat sheet. There was just one player that recorded more than two tackles, but the unit continued its strong play suffocating UAB’s run game.

The Blazers recorded just 63 yards on 25 carries for a dismal 2.5 yards per carry.

Darrell Middleton forced a fumble on a first half quarterback keeper. Aubrey Soloman recovered it and it paid huge dividends as Tennessee’s offense turned it into seven points extending the Vols’ lead to 16-0.

Soloman, who recorded four tackles, also added a sack as the Michigan transfer spent plenty of time in the UAB backfield.

Grade: A

Linebackers

Tennessee’s linebackers had an outstanding Saturday night stifling the Blazer’s run game while also showing out in passing situations.

Freshman Henry To’o To’o built on his strong season by recording five tackles, including three solo tackles, in the win.

It was a quiet night for Daniel Bituli who, after recording double digit tackles last week, just had one against the Blazers.

Solon Page III picked up some of the tackles from the inside linebacker spot recording a season high four tackles.

At outside linebacker Darrell Taylor continued his strong play recording a sack, multiple quarterback pressures and a pair of tackles.

Quavaris Crouch, who spent the last few weeks was at inside linebacker, moved back to outside linebacker Saturday and recorded two tackles in the win.

Grade: A

Secondary

For the third time this season the Vols’ recorded three interceptions. Against the Blazers not only did they all come from the secondary, but they all came from Bryce Thompson.

Thompson continues to play better as he gets further removed from his suspension that sidelined him the first three games of the season.

Shawn Shamburger continues to have a strong year at nickel and the junior continued that Saturday recording three tackles and a sack in the win.

In total, UAB only mustered 174 passing yards on 30 attempts. 38 yards came on the Blazer’s last possession where Tennessee got its backups some work.

Nigel Warrior led the defense with six tackles.

Grade: A+

Special Teams

Brent Cimaglia continues to be one of Tennessee’s best weapons as the junior kicker went 3-for-3 on field goals including a career long 53-yarder.

After Tennessee failed to convert turnovers into touchdowns early in the game, Cimaglia’s reliable right leg made sure Tennessee didn’t come away completely empty.

Paxton Brooks gave Tennessee a solid day of punting averaging 44 yards a punt while pinning UAB inside its 20-yard line twice.

Grade: A-

Coaching

Jeremy Pruitt’s decision to start each half with J.T. Shrout only for him to play one series seemed odd, but they clearly feel comfortable with Guarantano coming off the bench to play.

Tennessee’s offensive struggles in the red zone continues as one of the few struggles Jim Chaney has had this year.

Derrick Ansley called it a fantastic defensive game as the Vols played assignment football and consistently made plays.

Credit Pruitt and his staff for making sure the Vols didn’t have a letdown after the season’s biggest win the week before against South Carolina.

Grade: B+

Overall

A win over a Conference USA team isn’t something for Tennessee to boast about, but after the season’s first two weeks any win is a good one for this team.

UAB was a capable group of five opponent and Tennessee could have lost with a bad performance.

Pruitt had his team locked in and they jumped on the Blazer’s early. While there were some areas that Tennessee needs to play better in down the stretch, they were ready to play and never let UAB think they had a chance to win.

Grade: B+

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