Vince’s View: Review of BYU at UT with key developments

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

The Tennessee Volunteers controlled the game Saturday against BYU from start to almost finish. That window at the end pushed the game to overtime. The Cougars went on to shock the Vols in two overtimes 26-23.

The end result of the loss for UT was the same in week two for Tennessee as it was week one.

Not all losses are created equal, but when the losses continue to mount, you don’t get moral victories or effort atta-boys. An L is a L. Period.

Here are my observations from Tennessee’s loss to BYU that sent UT to its first 0-2 start to a season since 1988, in my blog Vince’s View:

The End of the Game & OT

*The big pass play at the end of the game is obviously inexplicable, but it reflects the fragile psyche and confidence of players on this team, who as a collective unit, don’t have a winning mindset and approach to dominate and finish opponents.

*Micah Simon (BYU WR) easily getting past Alontae Taylor on that play wasn’t the only problem.Safety Nigel Warrior was late in coming over to cover and then took a bad angle that led to a missed tackle. Plus, BYU’s talented TE Matt Bushman was also wide open close to the middle of the field as Trevon Flowers, Theo Jackson and Quavaris Crouch all kept creeping forward and towards the sideline as he had a clean run by them. Why are they playing a QB scramble or a short route underneath with so little time left and so many yards they have to gain to reach field goal range? See the image below.

Big pass play at the end of regulation – BYU at UT / Credit: 99.1 The Sports Animal

*That bust by Taylor continues an alarming trend of players not knowing what they’re supposed to do, how to line-up at times and don’t understand situations.

*UT was fortunate throughout the game that BYU didn’t take advantage of several of those busted assignments. UT had other plays where they weren’t lined-up correctly and they had to call timeouts.

UT’s defense – BYU at UT / Credit: 99.1 The Sports Animal

*Either there are issues in teaching techniques, the players can’t comprehend the systems or they just don’t have enough players with high enough football intelligence.

*On the squib kick at the end of regulation, I didn’t understand LaTrell Bumphus fielding it and then just taking a knee to run out the final second of regulation (which should not have been there but the was stopped with a second left at home…think the final second runs off the clock if that was a UT kick with 5 seconds to go? Of course it would have.) Unless he was instructed to kneel down, you have to lateral that back to Ty Chandler or Marquez Callaway to try and make a play.

Pruitt

*The Vols had early juice and energy, which was a must. Pruitt was working hard to get them fired up in the pregame.

*I think part of being a head football coach, especially in today’s world, is the mental part of the game. It requires more than teaching football. With Pruitt admitting that last season he spent too much time on improving every little thing in the program and didn’t spend enough time on his players building relationships, you have to wonder if he’s spent much time, if any, on building confidence and establishing a winning mindset beyond just teaching football. Psychology is a part of coaching, especially young adults in college football. As a first-time head coach, that is something that perhaps hasn’t been worked on. I don’t know. But, clearly, Pruitt is learning

Defense

*Tennessee pressured BYU QB Zack Wilson much better than it did Dan Ellington of Georgia State last week.

*The Vols defense had 7 QH (QB hurries), 6 TFLs and 4 sacks for a combined total of 17. BYU combined for just 8, so UT was a +9 in those key stats that often reflect the line of scrimmage.

*Henry To’oto’o continues to impress as just a freshman ILB. He’s made some freshman mistakes, but he has great instincts, athleticism and physicality.

Offense

*Tennessee’s play-calling was questionable in key moments. A WR jet sweep on 4th and 1? Crossing routes three yards short of the sticks on third down? Where are the fade routes to your big, talented receivers to let them high point a ball in the redzone where you’ve struggled?

*That being said, Jim Chaney, overall adjusted to what his players can and can’t do, which is one of his strengths. He’s handcuffed by Guarantano’s current limitations and his offensive line not being what they hoped to this point.

*The offense showed resiliency to score a TD in OT after the end of regulation and the way BYU scored easily in the first OT.

*I like when UT goes up-tempo on offense, but it’s not very frequent.

*Tennessee was really effective with its outside runs, often the stretch zone, with Ty Chandler and Eric Gray, who were both fantastic. The offensive line does deserve some credit for that. The shorter rotation and giving five guys full series to work together (for the most part) had to help with continuity.

*Chandler ran the ball like a running back that didn’t want to lose his gig.

*Gray is elusive and showed some sick jump cuts in the game after using the spin move numerous times in the opener.

*Pruitt lamented the offense’s lack of a big back to get tough yards and fall forward after contact in short yardage, like BYU was able to do. If the offensive line was better, it could win some battles up front for either of those two backs to be effective, but that’s not the case, so a big back could help. Once Daniel Bituli returns at ILB, I could see a scenario where Jeremy Banks returns to RB to help in that area.

*WR Jauan Jennings was big-time in this game with tough catches and the spirit necessary to give the team a chance.

Guarantano

*Jarrett Guarantano made a number of clutch throws, including one in the first OT scoring drive, but his errors were costly and too frequent for a player with his experience, arm talent and coaching resources..

*He is consistently late in making throws which costs UT TDs (deep middle throw to a wide-open Jennings allowed time for a PBU) or puts the ball in harms way often (DWA 1st qtr throw into double-coverage, throw to Jennings at the goal line in 4th qtr) or they don’t allow receivers to run well after the catch

*Guarantano has often been staring down his receivers too often, missing open receivers, panicking at times with pressure in the pocket and too often calling audibles at the line scrimmage into plays that don’t work.

*In the image included in this post, you’ll see Guarantano’s decision to keep on a zone read where your job is to read the defensive end and either hand-off or run it. Despite the end not crashing in and an unblocked LB staring at him, he made his mind up that he was going to run it and try to make a play. Not surprisingly, it didn’t work.

Vols offense – BYU at UT / Credit: 99.1 The Sports Animal

*#2’s noticeable audibles in the game resulted in these new plays: 4-yd run, middle free blitzer and thrown away, incomplete pass on a late throw that could have been a TD and a 2-yard run

*Tom Luginbill of ESPN and SiriusXM said of Vols QB Jarrett Guarantano: “He’s a guy you win in spite of not because of.” He and Greg McElroy, both former quarterbacks, talked about Guarantano’s struggles inside and outside of the ESPN broadcast. Here’s my one-on-one visit with Tom Luginbill.

*I do like the growing check-down options Chaney is giving to Guarantano. Uncfortunately, some of them came on 3rd down and we’re executed sharply to get to the first down marker.

*We thought we inadvertently found out who the number two QB is, When BYU DL Zac Dawe tossed Guarantano’s shoe to the sideline, true freshman QB Brian Maurer started to run onto the field until he was stopped by Jeremy Pruitt. The officials gave Guarantano time to put his shoe back on since the BYU player tossed it. Pruitt said today Maurer isn’t the back-up quarterback and that he started to run out to the field on his own. Pruitt said he kind of liked that. If it’s not Maurer, than the backup QB must be redshirt freshman JT Shrout, except Pruitt wasn’t committal to naming someone. Pruitt stressed the importance of finding a backup quarterback. There just haven’t been opportunities to play them so far. As much as fans would like a QB switch, putting a QB in with the game in the balance that has zero game experience is not a Pruitt-type thing to do. Not yet at least.

Freshmen

*For the second straight game, Tennessee played 9 freshmen.

Freshman That Played vs. Georgia St
Wanya Morris – OL (started)
Henry To’oto’o – LB (started)
Warren Burrell – CB (started)
Eric Gray – RB
Quavaris Crouch – LB
Darnell Wright – OT
Ramel Keyton – WR
Jaylen McCullough – S
Jerrod Means – WR

Freshman That Played vs. BYU
Wanya Morris – OL
Henry To’oto’o – LB (started)
Warren Burrell – CB (started)
Eric Gray – RB
Quavaris Crouch – LB
Darnell Wright – OT
Ramel Keyton – WR
Jaylen McCullough – S
Roman Harrison – LB


Find more of my broadcasting work at VinceSports.net

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