Tennessee Volunteers vs Appalachian State Mountaineers
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Neyland Stadium/Knoxville, Tennessee
Score: Tennessee 20, Appalachian State 13 OT
Notable Prospects Entering the Contest
Josh Dobbs, QB, Senior, #11: With Virginia Tech and a tough SEC schedule ahead, Dobbs turned in a performance he will quickly want to put behind him. Completing under 50% of his passes for less than 200 yards against a Sun Belt team was not the start to his senior season Dobbs was hoping for. Dobbs was erratic with his ball placement, didn’t see the field well and even made an uncharacteristically bad desperation heave on a third and long which resulted in an interception. Dobbs also dropped a perfect shotgun snap that put the offense in a bad situation and fumbled just shy of crossing the goal line in overtime. Dobbs failed to establish any type of rhythm in the passing game leaving plenty of questions to be answered throughout the course of the season. Stock: Down
Jalen Hurd, RB, Junior, #1: Hurd had the type of physical runs we’ve come to expect from the bruising tailback but his performance fell short of my expectations of him entering the game. While the entire Volunteer offense was out of synch, Hurd’s feet were especially bad. Failing to consistently properly time his cuts and clunky steps resulted in less than four yards gained on average per carry. Hurd did show some skills with his off hand, executing an impressive stiff arm on an off-tackle run. Stock: Slightly Down
Derek Barnett, DE, Junior, #9: Barnett turned in a solid performance as was clearly the best defensive lineman on the field. Playing with motor that continuously ran hot, Barnett pursed the football to all parts of the field. He played best against the run where his stout ability to set the edge and squeeze down gaps was on display. Barnett displayed good snap anticipation while racking up seven tackles, one for loss and a quarterback hurry. Stock: Same
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Senior, #21: A targeting penalty cost Reeves-Maybin all but half of the first quarter although his presence was made known during his brief stint on the field. Reeves-Maybin illustrated his ability to quickly process plays and react. His closing burst when filling windows is obvious and he took terrific paths to the football. It was disappointing to see him exit the game so early but the tone was set for a monster year from Reeves-Maybin. Stock: Same
Cam Sutton, CB, Senior, #23: Sutton’s night couldn’t have started worse as the Volunteer defense forced Appalachian State to punt on its opening drive and Sutton muffed the kick, resulting in an eventual Mountaineer touchdown. With that said, Sutton made two massive splash plays which directly lead to the Volunteers winning the game. The first play was when Sutton displayed outstanding zone awareness and ball skills breaking on a pass in Volunteer territory. This turnover lead to keeping potential points off the board for Appalachian State and at a minimum, flipped the field positioning at a crucial point in the game. The second came in the closing seconds of regulation as Appalachian State was driving to win the game and Sutton came up with a vital tackle for loss in the boundary and time eventually expired. Big time players make big time plays in big time situations and that is exactly what Sutton did. Stock: Up
Appalachian State Offense
Marcus Cox, RB, Senior, #14: Cox was the best Mountaineer on the field as he totaled 149 yards from scrimmage. Cox is an impressive zone and cutback runner where he knows how to time his cut and burst upfield to find daylight. Cox also made a highlight reel play on a wheel route resulting in a 33-yard touchdown reception in a contested situation. An experienced workhorse, Cox was a clear standout against Tennessee. Stock: Up
Appalachian State Defense
Alex Gray, S, Senior, #3: Gray looks good on the hoof (6030, 225) but had a relatively quiet night. He did recover a fumble but otherwise contributed three tackles. Stock: Same
John Law, LB, Senior, #88: Law flashed some impressive skills between the tackles by diagnosing plays quickly, slipping blocks and finishing. A solid day for what appeared to be a tough assignment entering the game. Stock: Same
Other Players that Flashed
Josh Malone, WR, Junior, #3: After struggling to time his jump, adjust to the football and compete at the catch point in contested situations early in the game, Malone made two paramount plays on the Volunteers first touchdown drive. One converted a third and long while the other a 67-yard bomb from Dobbs.
Ethan Wolf, TE, Junior, #82: Wolf didn’t have a monster game but was ultimately a very reliable target for Dobbs. Wolf beat zone coverage and displayed secure, soft hands as he caught the ball cleanly four times.
Corey Vereen, DE, Senior, #50: Vereen got better and better as the game went on. Consistently re-setting the line of scrimmage and holding the edge in the second half is where the Volunteer defense tightened up. He also showed good ability as a backside run defender chasing down plays with ascertion.
Best Players on the Field:
Cameron Sutton, Derek Barnett and Marcus Cox.
Josh Dobbs (see analysis above)
Tennessee’s Offensive Line
Entering the season with an experienced group, the Volunteers offensive line struggled with Appalachian State despite averaging a weight advantage of over 50 pounds per player when compared to the Mountaineers. There was no consistency when opening up running lanes and the timing with traps, combos and getting to the second level was particularly poor. All in all, a very underwhelming showing for this group.