It wasn’t a pretty game on Saturday in Neyland Stadium. However, the Tennessee football team will take the result.
Tennessee took a 24-0 victory over UTEP in non conference play on Saturday after overcoming a sluggish start.
With the win, Tennessee improves to 2-1 overall on the season.
Tennessee Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt knew the sluggish performance started on Monday of game week.
“It’s another week,” Pruitt said. “We’ve got to improve, but it’s a good lesson for our players because we didn’t practice very well this week. On Wednesday I think you guys could tell that I wasn’t happy with the way we performed. Most places that I’ve been, the way you practice is the way you play. You don’t practice badly on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then play well on Saturday; that doesn’t happen.”
“We have to improve practicing. We have to understand our expectations at practice, and I think that will help us grow as football players and as a football team. And we better, because now the real season starts.”
The Vols defense pitched a shutout for the first time since 2016 against Tennessee Tech.
“I think our guys have worked hard,” Pruitt said of the defense. “I didn’t think what we put on the field the first game was probably our best. I think the other team had something to do with that. We’ll see as we go from here. We have a long ways to go, but I think our guy are working. They’re trying to improve, but we have to do a better job creating some turnovers.”
Tennessee got on the board late in the first quarter as Brent Cimaglia hit a 38-yard field goal to sent UT to the second quarter with a 3-0 lead. Tim Jordan capped off a quick drive with a 3-yard touchdown run early in the second as the Volunteers held a 10-0 lead going to the half.
On the first Tennessee offensive play of the second half, Ty Chandler broke free through the line and raced 81 yards to the endzone. Tennessee, however, was unable to get back in the end zone until the fourth quarter when Japan Jennings caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Guarantano.
Guarantano finished the game 12-of-16 for 168 yards. Josh Palmer and Brandon Johnson had 64 and 51 yards receiving, respectively.
On the ground, Chandler had 158 yards on 12 carries, while Madre London had 74 yards on nine carries. Jordan carried the ball 13 times for 49 yards.
Tennessee now turns their attention to SEC play as Florida will make the trip to Knoxville next Saturday.
“I don’t know, you don’t really have a choice in that,” Pruitt said on if his team was ready for SEC play. “I would hope we’re ready. If you come to Tennessee, you came to play in the SEC, so I would hope they’re ready to play in the SEC.”
“Are we ready as a football team? When you turn the ball over two times and don’t get any turnovers, make eight penalties – probably 10 if you count the ones they declined – it would be hard to beat anybody in the SEC playing like that.”
Kickoff will be either at 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. with the time to be announced on Sunday.