Tennessee leads Vanderbilt BLANK at halftime in Nashville.
Vols Strike Early And Often
Tennessee struck first and early against Vanderbilt, scoring on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead.
Joe Milton III, who got the start at QB with Hendon Hooker tearing his ACL last week, hit Jalin Hyatt for a huge 61-yard gain on the third play of the game. Hyatt's catch gave Tennessee a First and goal from the three-yard-line, and Jabari Small punched it in a play later.
Tennessee extended its lead to 21-0 midway through the second quarter, and for most of the half, the Vols smothered Vanderbilt defensively. Tennessee's offense continued to attack vertically with Joe Milton behind center, but it did stall out at times.
Tennessee challenged its defense all week long in practice to respond, and the unit did just that to start this football game. Vanderbilt created some plays in space, but after playing with little effort last week against South Carolina, the Vols defenders flew to the football and tackled well. Overall, the entire team responded well after a lackluster performance last week that drew plenty of criticism.
Third Down Woes
Both teams struggled on third down early on, going a combined 1-11 at one point. Tennessee's lack of ability to run the ball in third and short situations was not ideal, and the Vols were not able to connect on several occasions in the passing game. Tennessee has to be better in the second half of this contest, as Vanderbilt gets the ball to open the half and could threaten to make this a closer ball game.
Dee Williams Is Electric
We knew this coming in. It is no shock. But the return man finally found his space and returned a punt for a touchdown in the second quarter. He showed another gear once he found a seam and the rest was history.
Joe Milton's Deep Ball Consistency Is Still Worrisome
The Tennessee quarterback can throw the ball a mile and a half, and on his second throw of the night, he drilled a bomb to Jalin Hyatt with plenty of touch, but then he had issues. He looked excellent working across the middle of the field, but on shot plays after the Hyatt bomb, Milton could not dial it back in. He does look more poised behind center, but he has to improve upon his accuracy, especially when Josh Heupel gets guys running wide open.
Another Receiving Record in Reach for Jalin Hyatt
Hyatt came into the game needing 118 yards to eclipse the single-season receiving mark. He finished the half with 86 yards leaving him needing only 32 yards to break another Tennessee receiving record. Hyatt's magical season could take another step forward with a few more catches tonight.