The Tennessee offense posted a school record of 724 yards in a 66-24 blowout win over Missouri. The Vols proved that they are still clearly at the top of the SEC and have a legitimate shot at the playoffs. They are 9-1 and on the cusp of the program’s first 10 win season since 2007.
Here is how each position group graded out in the win.
Hendon Hooker had an overall good day. Hooker’s 355 yards and four total touchdowns kept him among the leaders for the Heisman. However, his performance didn’t come without problems. Hooker continues to hold onto the ball a little too long in the pocket at times, which is something that has become common over the past three weeks. On two fourth down situations in the first half, Hooker took sacks that effectively ruined their drives while in Mizzou territory—something that would have been looked back on had the Vols not pulled away in the second half.
Joe Milton took over for the Vols’ final two drives and displayed his impressive arm talent with a little more touch than we’ve seen in the past. Milton led two touchdown drives while eclipsing 100 yards.
The running back play for Tennessee was very good. Each of the three backs that came in put their own strengths in full display, combining for 203 yards and four touchdowns.
The standout for the group was freshman Dylan Sampson, who ran for 98 yards and a core on just eight carries. Sampson showed off his impressive burst when he ran for 42 and 15 yards on his first two carries. Jabari Small and Jaylen Wright both surpassed the 50 yard mark. The running backs continue to be the driving force behind the high-powered Vol offense, and that is apparent when you look at last week’s production compared to this week’s and how it correlated to the passing game.
A few uncharacteristic Jalin Hyatt drops overshadowed 100-yard performances from both him and Bru McCoy.
Hyatt dropped two passes on the Vols’ final drive of the first half, and it effectively stalled the drive. However, Hyatt later made up for it on a beautifully designed play in the third quarter, where he hid behind the offensive line and took a wheel route 68 yards to the house.
Princeton Fant reeled in his first two touchdown passes of the year, while both Ramel Keyton and Squirrel White both had over 60 yards. A-tier performances require near-perfection, and the group wasn’t quite that despite putting up a lot of yards.
The offensive line played a decent game on Sunday. They gave up four sacks, but some of the blame can be put on Hooker hanging around in the pocket too long. The group still provided open lanes for the running backs, and that cannot be ignored.
The front seven had a very rough first half that rolled into the beginning of the second half. Twenty-three scoreless minutes greatly boosted the group’s performance, but they had trouble getting to Tiger quarterback Brady Cook and containing him inside the pocket when they did. Cook ran for 106 yards, with most of those yards coming off scrambles. However, Tennessee was still very good in keeping Missouri’s running backs in check.
The secondary struggled mightily early in the game against a subpar passing offense. Heading into the game, Missouri hadn’t thrown for a touchdown in three straight games but threw for two on Saturday. One was off a blown coverage by Brandon Turnage and Jaylen McCollough, and the other was off Tamarion McDonald getting dusted for a long score.
The special teams unit for the Vols played sloppy with two costly penalties. Aaron Beasley was offsides on a Missouri field goal attempt, which lead to a first down and a score for the Tigers. Later on, a great return by Dee Williams was brought back due to a block in the back call. The kicking team had a solid outing with two good punts from Paxton Brooks while Chase McGrath hit all of his PAT’s and his lone field goal.
It was a good performance out of the Vols on Saturday, but it wasn’t perfect and a bit sloppy at times. Their mark of 66 points overshadows some of the early mistakes, and Missouri trailed by just four points in the middle of the third before the Vols pulled away.