Vols rush for 452 yards in 62-24 rout of Missouri
Tennessee improves to 3-2 on the season and 1-1 in SEC play.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee hits the road for the second straight week as the Vols will look to get back in the win column this Saturday afternoon against Missouri. Both teams are coming off losses and will be looking to earn their first conference victory of the season this weekend.
Tennessee won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. The Vols defense held strong thanks to a Jeremy Banks sack on the second play of the game. Christian Charles knocked down a Connor Bazelak pass on third and long to force a Mizzou punt. Tennessee quickly crossed midfield after taking possession on offense. Starting quarterback Hendon Hooker found fellow transfer Javonta Payton on the fifth play of the drive - a 35-yard touchdown pass to get Tennessee on the board first, 7-0.
Mizzou would move the ball on their second possession into Tennessee territory, but three holding penalties would make things difficult for QB Connor Bazelak and the Missouri offense. on 3rd and 20, the Tigers gain seven to the Vols 25 forcing a 43 yard FG attempt which Harrison Mevis making the score 7-3 Volunteers. Mevis has connected now on 14 straight field goal attempts.
The Vols would take over after the kickoff on their 25 yard line promptly drive 75 yards in seven plays for another touchdown. Tennessee utilizing the run and pass. A revamped offensive line opening big holes for running backs Jabari Small and Tiyon Evans who took care of the final eight on his way to the promised land. PAT was good and the Vols lead the Tigers in Columbia, 14-3.
The Vols defense does its job again. After picking up one first down, the Vols would clamp down on the Tigers and force a punt, which would go out at the Tennessee 8 yard line. Vols pinned back deep, but not to worry! On the next offensive play for the Volunteers, Tiyon Evans takes the hand finds a hole up the middle and is gone, 92 yards for the touchdown. Three possessions and three touchdowns for the Vols, who take a commanding early 21-3 lead.
Evans run for a TD was the third longest run for a score in UT Football history. The Vols already with 160 rushing yards against the Tigers.
More trouble for the Mizzou offense, backed up again, QB Tiyon Evans gets pressure up the middle and his pass is intercepted by Tennessee linebacker and former running back Jeremy Banks who returns the pick back down inside the one yard line. On the very next play and out of the shotgun, the give goes to Evans who powers his way into the end zone. The PAT from Chase McGrath is good as the Vols increase their 1st quarter lead to 28-3.
The Vols ran just 14 plays in the 1st quarter and came away with 28 points never having to convert on third down. Now that’s efficiency for a team that defeated these Tigers 35-12 last season inside Neyland Stadium.
The Missouri offense would finally get things going early in the 2nd quarter and doing it mostly on the legs of running back Tyler Badie who would take it in from six yards out. The PAT made it 28-10 Vols. The drive vover 75 yards in 12 playing taking 4:53 off the board. Badie now has 44 yards on 17 carries. He’s been and will continue to be the workhorse for the Tigers in this important SEC matchup.
A personal foul penalty after the touchdown would back the Tigers up on the kickoff and that field position would hurt the home team. After a long pass from Hendon Hooker to Cedric Tillman, the Vols would convert on their first 3rd down try of the game and in a big way. On 3rd and 12 at the Mizzou 35, Hooker would hit Velus Jones on a screen pass and the senior would do the rest. Vols lead by 25 points with over 10 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter. Vols with 290 yards of total offense on just 19 plays so far in the ballgame.
After forcing another Missouri punt, the Vols would go back on offense and continue what they’ve been doing all game long and that’s move the football. Len’Neth White, the redshirt freshman from Athens, Georgia would break off a big run and then quarterback Hendon Hooker would also come up with a couple big carries for the Volunteers. Stopped at the 5-yard line, Tennessee would go for it on 4th and 1 and convert thanks to the running of Tiyon Evans. Then on first and goal from just outside the one yard line, quarterback Hendon Hooker would rush it in for the touchdown. The PAT makes it 42-10 Vols with 4:49 remaining in the first half. Hooker now as 38 yards rushing as the Vols improve their run total to 243 yards on the afternoon .
The last time the Vols had 42 points in the first half was 2013 against Austin Peay. The troubles continue for the Missouri offense. On 3rd down and 10, Bazelak is pressured by Tennessee’s Byron Young, who just misses the sack. The pass falls incomplete and the Tigers punt it back to the Volunteers.
The Vols begin their next drive at their own 42 yard line with 3:51 to go in the half. White another big carry for the Vols on first down to the Missouri 44 yard line. On 3rd and 5 at the Mizzou 25, Hooker would carry it for a first down on a quarterback draw, but the play is called back for holding against the Vols setting up a 3rd and 15 Hooker hits Jacob Warren on a pass short of the first down, but a face mask penalty gives the Vols a first down at the Mizzou 11 yard line. The Tigers would hold and force a a 25 yard FG attempt. Chase McGrath is true as Tennessee increases its lead to 45-19 with :19 to go in the half. The first drive of the day that did not end up in a touchdown for the Big Orange.
Missouri would then run out the clock as Tennessee heads to the locker room up by a commanding 35 points. Oh and if that isn’t enough bad news for the Tigers, the Vols get the ball first in the 2nd half.
The Vols would take the opening drive of the 2nd half deep into Mizzou territory thanks to a steady does of Hendon Hooker rushing the football, but on 3rd and 6 at the Missouri 10, a pass on a slant pattern to Velus Jones would be knocked away by the Tigers. Tennessee settles for a 27 yard FG by Chase McGrath, his second of the game. The Vols increase their lead to 48-10 early in the 3rd quarter.
The first big mistake of the day for Tennessee comes on special teams as on the ensuing kickoff, Kris Abrams-Drain returns kick 100 yards for Missouri’s first touchdown of the game. Vols now lead 48-17.
With Jabari Small leaving the game early nursing a sore shoulder, Evans would carry much of the load, but newcomers Whitehead and Marcus Pierce Jr. would see some valuable action. And with Pierce in the back field, the Vols would drive down the field. Mix in a nice pass for a first down to Velus Jones and then on third down at the Mizzou 24, Hooker hits Cedric Tillman on the post pattern for another Tennessee touchdown. The drive covers 10 plays and 75 yards and takes 4 minutes off the clock. Talk about efficiency, the Vols have had 9 offensive drives on the afternoon and have come away with seven touchdowns and two field goals to improve their lead to 55-10.
The Vols weren’t through in the 3rd quarter, on 3rd down and 14, Mizzou QB Connor Bazelak has his pass tipped and intercepted by UT’s Jaylen McCollough who returns it near mid field. Enter another fresh running back in true freshman Jaylen Wright who looks impressive picking up positive yardage.
The Vols would start the 4th quarter with a 3rd and 2 at the Missouri 17 yard line. Tennessee would convert a 3rd and 6 on a pass to and extra effort by Velus Jones, but the UT drive would stall at the one as on 4th and goal, Pierce Jr. is stopped short of the goal line. The first drive of the day in which Tennessee comes away without any points.
The Tigers would then put their best drive of the day together going 99 yards for a touchdown. D’ionte Smith runs it in from 4 yards out. That’s makes the score 55-24. QB Connor Bazelak now 23 of 27 for 274 yards and two interceptions.
The Vols have over 600 yards total offense. The last time they did that was in 2016 against these very Missouri Tigers.
Joe Milton would come in to lead the next Tennessee drive which the Vols would use to run down the clock and run is what tailback Marcus Pierce Jr. would do, cutting to the outside and down the near sideline for his first TD as a Volunteer. Tennessee’s improves its lead to 26-24. The Vols rushed for an astonishing 452 yards. The last time Tennessee went over 400 yards rushing in a game was 406 yards against Vanderbilt in 1994.
That would be your final score as the Vols improve to 3-2 on the season and 1-1 in SEC play returning home next Saturday, October 9th, to face the South Carolina Gamecocks. It’ll be a Noon kickoff inside Neyland Stadium.
Saturday’s game will be televised on SEC Network with Dave Neal (PxP), Deuce McAllister (analyst), and LVFL Andraya Carter (sideline) on the call. The kickoff is slated for noon ET/11 a.m. CT. The game can also be accessed through the ESPN App on smartphones, tablets, connected streaming devices, or via espn.com/watch. Fans can listen to Tennessee’s official radio broadcast on the Vol Network (WIVK-FM 107.7/WNML-FM 99.1) and satellite radio (Sirius Ch. 103, XM Ch. 192, Internet Ch. 963). A live audio stream of the broadcast will also be available on UTSports.com and the Official Gameday App. Bob Kesling (PxP), Pat Ryan (analyst) and Brent Hubbs (analyst) will call the action, with Kasey Funderburg handling sideline duties. Big Orange Countdown begins at 10:30 a.m. ET.
NEED TO KNOW
On the Road Again
Tennessee plays its second straight road game as it travels to Missouri this Saturday. Both teams are coming off losses with the Vols falling to No. 11 Florida, 38-14, and the Tigers dropping a 41-34 overtime contest at Boston College. Josh Heupel is 11-5 in road games as a head coach, including an 11-4 mark in three seasons at UCF. Heupel is 6-1 following a loss in the same season as a head coach, and only one time at UCF did he lose back-to-back games in a season. Two of Heupel’s rare losses at UCF occurred in bowl games to end the season.
Look Who’s Back
Heupel returns to a familiar place this weekend after serving as Missouri’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2016-17 under then-head coach Barry Odom. Under Heupel’s watch, the Tigers led the SEC in total offense in both seasons, putting up 502.2 yards in 2017 and 500.5 yards in 2016. Heupel mentored Drew Lock, who shattered a then-SEC single-season record for touchdown passes with 44 in 2017. Prior to Heupel’s arrival, Mizzou ranked 124th in the nation in total offense (280.9). Heupel’s final season in Columbia saw the Tigers win six straight games and reach the Texas Bowl.
Winning the Turnover Battle
After struggling to create turnovers in the first two games of the season, the Vols have turned things around in their past two contests, forcing five turnovers (four INTs, one fumble) in games against Tennessee Tech and Florida. UT has committed just one turnover in those two games.
Big Play Vols
Tennessee has already hit on five offensive plays of 40 or more yards from scrimmage this season, which ranks fourth in the SEC. By comparison, the Vols had only three the entire 2020 season (10 games). This year’s total is already halfway to the squad’s 2019 total of 10 (13 games). Quarterback Hendon Hooker has accounted for four of those 40-yarders with passes.
All About Tempo
A trademark of Heupel’s offenses is tempo. The Vols are averaging 3.01 offensive plays per minute, which is tops in the nation. Utah State is next closest at 2.95 with Ole Miss third at 2.90. UT is averaging 75.25 plays per game. From 2018-20, Heupel’s UCF teams averaged a nation-high 3.04 plays per minute. The next closest was 2.78 by Wake Forest during that span. Heupel’s UCF squads averaged 79.97 plays per game.
Tigers lead series, 5-4
Tennessee and Missouri are meeting for the 10th time with the Tigers holding a slim 5-4 advantage in the series. However, the Vols have won the last two contests and four out of the last six in the series, including a 35-12 victory in Knoxville last season. UT rushed for four touchdowns in that contest. The Vols are seeking three straight wins in the series for the first time. The series has played to a 2-2 tie in Columbia.
The Tigers are led by second-year head coach Eliah Drinkwitz, who led Missouri to a 5-5 record in his first season with the program in 2020. Drinkwitz arrived in Columbia after leading Appalachian State to a 12-1 record and a Sun Belt Championship in his lone season as head coach of the Mountaineers in 2019. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Connor Bazelak leads a high-powered attack for the Tigers that ranks fourth in the SEC in total offense (483.0 ypg). Through four games, Bazelak has thrown for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. Mizzou’s best offensive weapon is do-it-all running back Tyler Badie, who leads the team in rushing yards (417), receptions (20) and total touchdowns (8) while also ranking second on the team with 176 receiving yards. Badie’s eight touchdowns and 593 total yards from scrimmage both lead the conference. Defensively, Mizzou is led by veteran linebacker Blaze Alldredge, who is tied for fourth nationally with eight tackles for loss and ranks second in the SEC with four sacks. Alldredge also ranks third in the conference with 36 total tackles.
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