The Tennessee-Virginia Tech encounter at Bristol Motor Speedway was a sight to behold. The racetrack absolutely provided an incredible scene and atmosphere, and as they say, “A picture is worth 1,000 words.”
156,990 fans were in attendance for this spectacle. As for the game itself, it would turn into a bit of a laugher. After falling behind 14-0, Tennessee would march back to score 24 points in the second quarter. By night’s end, the Volunteers etched another tally in the win column as they walked away from Bristol with a 45-24 victory.
Here’s what we learned from this affair:
1. Tennessee’s ground game showed up in a big way: The Vols amassed 239 yards on the ground in this encounter with VaTech. Perhaps to the surprise of many it wasn’t the Vols’ star running back who picked up the most yards on the night. No, instead, it was the quarterback. Joshua Dobbs ran for 106 yards on the night while Jalen Hurd scrapped up 99 of his own. Dobbs scored two touchdowns on the ground and amassed a YPC of 7.6 (!), showing off a tremendous display of versatility.
2. Turnovers broke Virginia Tech: The Hokies outdid the Volunteers in total yards, passing yards, yards per attempt, 3rd down efficiency and time of possession. So, why did they get blown out? Likely because of turnover differential. The Hokies coughed the ball up five times on Saturday night, catching a heavy case of fumbilitis that the Volunteers made certain to capitalize on. In total, the Vols scored 17 points off those turnovers, and while that’s not jump-off-the-page worthy, it was certainly enough to create a significant impact in the game.
3. The Volunteers’ run defense still looks a bit porous: Although the game grew out of reach eventually the Hokies were able to run pretty freely against the Volunteers. For the second straight week they were unable to stop the run effectively as this time around, Travon McMillian scampered for over 125 yards. With more great running backs on the horizon it’s imperative that Tennessee shores up their run defense because it could only get uglier from here if that’s not sharpened up.