Once Tennessee got rolling, there was no slowing them down.
The Vols scored three defensive touchdowns, tallied 650 offensive yards, and stormed to a 59-3 Homecoming victory over UConn on Saturday inside Neyland Stadium.
“I don’t yet, but there are a lot of really good things,” Head Coach Josh Heupel said when asked if he felt this was his team’s best four quarters of football. “You start off with three defensive touchdowns. Great performance up front [as well as] on the back end in the middle part of the football game. ”
“I wouldn’t say it’s our best performance that we’re capable of. We got way too many penalties. There are things in efficiency offensively and defensively and in three-run pass defense that we can be a lot better at than we were at times today. All in all, great morning, good performance, but our best is still out there.”
It took Tennessee just two offensive plays to score as Jaylen Wright broke free for an 82-yard touchdown.
“He’s had huge, long runs, but they’ve come because of the growth of him as a football player,” Heupel said of Wright’s big plays. “It’s not just running toss on the outside, running around everybody. He understands how to press things, understands how the fit, the read, and bounce it when he needs to, staying vertical, that one hit right up the pipe. It’s fun to watch the guy become a dynamic football player, understand how to play the game.”
Wright had 113 yards on eight carries.
The big plays continued later in the quarter as Ramel Keyton found himself wide open to catch a 60-yard touchdown pass from Joe Milton III.
That have Tennessee a 14-3 lead lead after a quarter of play.
Milton III went 11-of-14 for 254 yards and two touchdowns, while Keyton ended the game with two catches for 81 yards.
Milton III opened the second quarter scoring as he ran in from six yards out, and then caught Squirrel White open for an 83-yard pass
The Vols capped the first half with a scoop and score from Tyler Baron for a 24-yard score.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had one that’s stuck on the board,” Baron said. “That celebration was paying tribute to Kamal Hadden. That’s one of our brothers that we lost this season to injury. I wanted to show him that we still love him and he’s my guy forever.”
Tennessee’s defense continued to steal the show in the second half as the Vols had two pick-sixes to open the half – one from Jaylen McCollough and the other from Aaron Beasley – as UT continued to dominate.
“Changes the ways the second half unfolds,” Heupel said of the pick sixes. “The opportunity for us to get a lot of our younger guys in the football game early in the third quarter with what they were doing offensively, draining the clock, there wasn’t a lot of opportunities as the game unfolded late to get your roster in the football game.”
“At the end of it, we had an opportunity for guys who have very little opportunities on the game field to get in there. You want that for those guys. Those guys work 365 days out of the year, too. It was fun to see those guys go out and play really well and finish the game out really well.”
One of the younger guys to take advantage included Nico Iamaleava as he went 5-of-9 passing for 86 yards and threw his first touchdown as a Vol to McCallen Castles.
“Great,” Milton III said when asked his thoughts on how Iamaleave performed. “Nico is a baller; y’all know that. Every opportunity he gets, he makes sure at practice that he treats all the opportunities as real, so when the game time does come, he will be ready for his moment. Out there today, I felt like he did good. There are also things to learn from, but we will go over that today. “
Tennessee capped the scoring with a field goal in the fourth quarter.