Tennessee blew out Tennessee Tech in their Week 3 matchup, as expected. The Vols out-gained the Golden Eagles 417 yards to 179, and Tim Banks' unit got four interceptions, making for a complete route of Tennessee Tech. While the win was a team effort that saw multiple facets of Josh Heupel's squad execute well, three individuals stood out and will be gifted game balls from VR2.
Hendon Hooker. No. 5 was called on to start under center for Tennessee in place of injured Joe Milton, and the former Hokie completed 17 of 25 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns while adding 64 yards on the ground and another score. Highlights included Hooker's 29-yard bomb to JaVonta Payton for six in the first quarter and the fourth-down conversion pass to Velus Jones Jr. that doubled as an early second quarter score. Hooker did not excel for the full 45 minutes he played, as there were some occasional misses and he lost a fumble, but Hooker showed explosiveness with his legs and continued to display his ability to produce as a passer.
Hooker's touchdown toss to Velus Jones Jr. can be seen below:
via Tennessee Football Twitter
Defense was the bright spot for Tennessee in the blowout win. Byron Young made his debut and co-led the team in tackles, Tennessee started the day with zero takeaways on the year and ended with four and Tennessee Tech was held to only 35 rushing yards. While Young had a solid debut, the game ball goes to Solon Page III. Page had one of the biggest highlights of the entire day, picking off TTU quarterback Davis Shanley and taking it to the house in the middle of the third quarter. Page was one of four Vols who had a pick on Saturday, but the way Page bit on the route and showcased his speed when punching it in for six earns him the game ball on defense.
Page's pick six can be seen below:
via Tennessee Football Twitter
Mike Ekeler's special teams unit had yet another solid day on Rocky Top. Freshman punter Kolby Morgan, who filled in for Paxton Brooks who was unavailable for the contest, impressed in his first start, booming four punts for 154 yards with a 38.5 average. While Morgan stepped up to the plate in Week 3, the special teams game ball is gifted to Velus Jones Jr. The sixth-year senior continued to excel in kick and punt return duties, returning three punts for 32 yards and his lone kick return for 23 yards. No. 1's 23-yard kick-off return could have been for 89 yards if it was not for a holding penalty, and Jones Jr. never had another opportunity to return a kick afterward. Jones Jr. has been a bright spot on special teams over the last two weeks, and his ability to give Josh Heupel's offense good field position will be all the more paramount once SEC play starts.
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