Jeremy Pruitt's team came out looking effective offensively in the first half. No surprise, Jarrett Guarantano got the start, and the offense was effective early on.
My first takeaway of the night was that Tennessee's offensive line was struggling early on with pass protection even though the Vols were moving the ball. Those woes continued later in the first half as Guarantano got rocked time and time again.
Secondly, the clock management at the end of the half was mind-boggling. After throwing the ball all around, Tennessee ran it consecutive times before opting to hurry up and try to make something happen. This has happened too often for the Vols under Jeremy Pruitt. What made it worse was that Tennessee called a timeout to get the ball back, and then did not go aggressively to start the drive. Are you coaching to win or not?
The Vols secondary was very effective with Bryce Thompson working at safety, while Tamarion McDonald continued to receive snaps. Thompson picked a ball in the endzone, but the Vols did not stick with the look very often after. The secondary still looked confused at times, and Bo Nix made them pay with an easy pitch and catch to Anthony Schwartz. I was interested to see how Tennessee responded after that play, but the Vols did not completely close shop. A good sign for Jeremy Pruitt.
Auburn took over half of the third quarter with its opening drive, but Tennessee held to a field goal. A drastic improvement from weeks past.
After Auburn's lengthy opening drive, Tennessee put together one of their own, but it was ended by a 100-yard Jarrett Guarantano pick-six. There is not much to say. On a drive where all he had to do was not screw things up, he did. The fact that Tennessee was not completely de-moralized is a testament to these guys.
Automaglia is no more. Tennessee did itself no favors, but multiple drives ended with missed field goals from the Vols kicker. Guarantano taking sacks before both kicks did not help Cimaglia's case.
Tennessee's offense was the same vanilla style, we've grown accustomed to in the second half. Auburn was able to keep its foot on the gas, and the Vols were no match down the stretch.
Harrison Bailey showed a lot of composure during his time for the Vols. Bailey slung the ball all around and should have only had one incompletion on the night, despite Auburn knowing he was throwing the ball. Should be interesting to see the QB situation at Vanderbilt, even though to me the answer has been an easy one since the Kentucky loss.