Tennessee needed two overtimes and a lot of luck to escape with a win in its season opener against an unconventional opponent. The 21st-ranked Volunteers will try to put together a more complete effort on both sides of the ball when they host Indiana State on Saturday.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones won’t spend much time looking at the tape after facing the only triple-option team his squad will see this season and escaping with a 42-41 triumph over Georgia Tech on Monday. The Volunteers got used to playing tight games in a series of close finishes early last season and are hoping the momentum lasts a little longer than in 2016, when the team faded in October with three straight losses. “We never had doubt,” Tennessee defensive lineman Paul Bain told reporters after Monday’s win. “We’re just cut from a different cloth than a lot of teams. We were made for this and pressure-filled situations. We were made for the grind and we never had doubt, even though we were down.” The FSC Sycamores played their own tight game in Week 1 but came away with a 22-20 loss to Eastern Illinois.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: None
ABOUT INDIANA STATE (0-1): Sycamores running back Lemonte Booker carried the load in Week 1, logging 154 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. Indiana State first-year head coach Curt Mallory had his defense sharp against the run in the opener, holding Eastern Illinois to 76 yards on 33 carries. Mallory started Isaac Harker at quarterback but replaced him with freshman Cade Sparks in the second half, and Sparks completed 3-of-9 passes for 95 yards in relief.
ABOUT TENNESSEE (1-0): Junior quarterback Quinten Dormady won the right to replace Joshua Dobbs in camp and threw for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns on Monday. Dormady is not as effective a rusher as Dobbs, who led the team in rushing yards last season, but junior running back John Kelly had little trouble stepping into the featured role and ran for 128 yards and four touchdowns - one shy of his 2016 total - against Georgia Tech. The star of Monday’s comeback was wide receiver Marquez Callaway, who racked up 115 yards on just four catches and scored twice.
1. Tennessee LB Cortez McDowell recorded a career-high 13 tackles on Monday.
2. The Sycamores last beat an FBS opponent with a 27-20 victory at Ball State in 2014 and are 0-3 all-time against SEC teams.
3. Volunteers WR Jauan Jennings suffered a dislocated wrist on Monday and is out indefinitely.
PREDICTION: Tennessee 38, Indiana State 14