Top takeaways from UTEP win; defensive snaps way down from 2017

KNOXVILLE, TN – SEPTEMBER 15, 2018 – tn during the game between the UTEP Miners and the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

Time to share my top takeaways from Tennessee’s 24-0 win over UTEP, Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

At the bottom you will find the starting line-up from the game.

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Yards Not Points: The yards on offense were plenty, 512 including 345 yards rushing, but it still wasn’t pretty because of multiple turnovers and penalties…something this team avoided the first two games

Little But Not Enough: The defense got a little more of a pass rush, but certainly not enough moving forward. A factor in that was playing a quarterback that is very raw and held on to the ball too long

Where’s My Playing Time?: Keeping UTEP in the game on the scoreboard kept UT from likely playing as many players as they might have hoped. The Vols used 37 reserves in the game. They used 47 in the blowout of ETSU. You don’t want extra snaps by starters in a game like this to accumulate and help take a toll late in the year.

Less Snaps, More Production: On the topic of snaps, one reason why the UT defense has improved overall this season (3rd in SEC & 14th in the nation in total defense) could be the snaps that the defense is playing. In three games so far this year, UT’s defense has played an average of 57 snaps per game. That’s down 13 snaps per game from last season’s average of 70 snaps per game, which included 3 games with 80 or more snaps.

Snaps 2: Here are the snaps vs. the Tennessee defense this season and in 2017:
West Virginia 61
2018 Total Snaps On Defense: 170 (56.7)

Georgia Tech 96
Indiana State 57
Florida 57
UMass 59
Georgia 72
South Carolina 64
Alabama 86
Kentucky 52
Southern Miss 76
Missouri 83
LSU 58
Vanderbilt 74
2017 Total Snaps on Defense: 834 (69.5)

Helping The Defense: Slowing the game down to limit plays that the defense is on the field may be why UT hasn’t tried to open the offense up much this season. They may be willing to give up a little quick-strike on offense to have a better chance on defense with fewer snaps.

Guarantano The Guy: Jarrett Guarantano is playing well and is managing the offense. He’s in command, he hasn’t thrown an interception and he’s improved in a lot of areas. We haven’t seen a wide open offense to allow him to sling it all over the field like I’m sure he’d like, but he’s doing what the coaches ask of him. Although not a finished product yet, he clearly gives Tennessee the best chance to win right now.

Ignont In: So. ILB Will Ignont got some playing time when Darrin Kirkland Jr. was banged up, Quart’e Sapp wasn’t 100% and when the game was in hand. He played pretty well and has been complimented by Jeremy Pruitt.

Revolving Door Receivers: Tennessee has been substituting wide receivers, tight ends and running backs in-and-out almost every play and even more so vs. UTEP. I understand that the offense is very multiple, so you’ll have a lot of personnel packages and the coaches want to keep guys fresh while competing, but I think it can also stunt the growth of players and keep them from getting in a rhythm. WR Marquez Callaway is usually the exception to this, as he stays on the field.

Jennings Just In Time: WR Jauan Jennings started for the first time since the 2017 season opener (his only game) vs. Georgia Tech and he scored a touchdown for the first time since Game 11 vs. Missouri in 2016. This is a positive development ahead of a game you know he wants to ball-out in, Florida.

Return Game Needs To Return: Marquez Callaway muffed a punt which resulted in a lost fumble, dropped another punt and continues to let punts bounce in front of him giving up field position, while averaging only 2 yards per return. The Vols need to give some other guys a look there that will not only secure the ball and make good decisions, but give you a chance for a return for a TD. I think Ty Chandler and any other player with home run speed should return kickoffs. I’d also like to see the Vols run a few out of the endzone, but it doesn’t appear Pruitt wants anything past the goal line returned. He’ll take the 25.

Tennessee Participation Chart vs. UTEP
UT Offensive Starters
TE 4 Dominick Wood-Anderson
LT 73 Trey Smith
LG 58 Jahmir Johnson
C 70 Ryan Johnson
RG 75 Jerome Carvin
RT 51 Drew Richmond
TE 81 Austin Pope
WR 1 Marquez Callaway
WR 15 Jauan Jennings
QB 2 Jarrett Guarantano
TB 9 Tim Jordan

UT Defensive Starters
DE 5 Kyle Phillips
NT 2T Shy Tuttle
DE 98 Alexis Johnson Jr.
JACK 99 Jonathan Kongbo
SAM 1T Darrell Taylor
MLB 35 Daniel Bituli
WLB 34 Darrin Kirkland Jr.
CB 20 Bryce Thompson
CB 2B Baylen Buchanan
S 18 Nigel Warrior
S 22 Micah Abernathy

UT Reserves That Played (37)
12-Shamburger,S., 14-Sapp,Q., 13-Johnson,D., 21-Reid,S., 26-Jackson,T., 3-Osborne,M., 42-Cimaglia,B., 6-Taylor,A., 7-Johnson,B., 8-Allen,J., 8-Chandler,T., 10-Byrd,T., 11-Murphy,J., 19-Chryst,K., 23-Ignont,W., 25-Flowers,T., 27-Fils-Aime,C., 30-Smith,A., 31-London,M., 33-Banks,J., 37-Brooks,P., 41-George,K., 47-Doyle,J., 52-Medford,E., 56-Locklear,R., 59-Mincey,J., 68-Tatum,M., 69-Garvey,B., 74-Calbert,K., 80-Wolf,E., 84-Palmer,J., 86-Craig,A., 88-Bumphus,L., 89-Elion,M., 93-Gooden,E., 94-Butler,M., 97-Bain,P.

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