No. 25 Tennessee starts fast in rout of Indiana St.
After last week’s double-overtime thriller against Georgia Tech, No. 25 Tennessee was in need of a low-stress test that would allow the Volunteers to learn a little more about this year’s squad.
A visit from Indiana State did the trick.
Freshman running back Ty Chandler returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown and sophomore running back Carlin Fils-aime scored two touchdowns, leading the Volunteers to a 42-7 rout of Indiana State on Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.
Volunteers junior quarterback Quinten Dormady completed 13 of 18 passes with two touchdowns and an interception to help Tennessee improve to 2-0 and set up a showdown next week with No. 22 Florida.
Chandler, a four-star recruit out of Nashville, split the Sycamores’ coverage unit down the middle, shaking off an attempted one-armed tackle and showing off his speed by pulling away for the tone-setting touchdown.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones said he was not surprised by Chandler’s electric play.
“We saw that all preseason camp and we were happy to get him back there,” Jones said of Chandler. “He has great speed and can really hit it. It’s not just him, but also the 10 other individuals blocking.”
Fils-aime scored on runs of 30 and 4 yards, and Dormady threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Johnson to send the Volunteers into halftime with a 28-0 lead.
Junior running back John Kelly finished with 140 yards of offense, including a team-high five catches for 60 yards.
Indiana State quarterback Cade Sparks threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jacquet McClendon to open the second half, cutting the Vols’ lead to 28-7.
Dormady answered with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Callaway late in the third quarter.
Heralded freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano saw his first game action of the season for the Vols and capped a fourth-quarter scoring drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jeff George. Guarantano completed 4 of 12 passes for 41 yards.
Sparks completed 8 of 17 for 70 yards, and running back Lemonte Booker rushed for 76 yards on 15 carries for the Sycamores.
Indiana State, in its first trip to Neyland Stadium, struggled to move the football and extend drives. Tennessee’s defense did not allow Indiana State to convert a third down (0-for-11) and held the Sycamores to 215 total yards.
“Obviously we didn’t come down to lose the football game,” Indiana State coach Curt Mallory said.
“We came down here to win and get better as a football team. I thought we battled, I thought we stuck together, and I‘m proud of this football team regardless of the score. This team is a group that will stick together and keep battling and we’ll come back tomorrow ready to play the next game.”
Tennessee was coming off a double-overtime, comeback win over Georgia Tech on Labor Day, but didn’t have nearly the stress against the Sycamores (0-2) out of the FCS. Jones said he was proud of the way his team was able to refocus on a short week and regroup after having to prepare for Georgia Tech’s option offense.
”The two types of offenses we have gone against are exotic,“ Jones said. ”The things we’ve been through the last two weeks on defense makes it on-going with evaluations.
“On a short turnaround, (the players) did a really good job preparing their bodies and minds. This is a team that needs to constantly play football to get better.”
Now, the Volunteers can turn their attention to next week’s showdown in the Swamp against Florida. The Volunteers scored 38 straight points to come from behind and beat the Gators last season. The win ended an 11-year losing streak to the Gators.
“We’re going to have to get better in a hurry,” Jones said.
NOTES: With a trip to Florida next week, Tennessee coach Butch Jones rested several players. Senior S Evan Berry, sophomore WR Tyler Byrd, freshman WR Latrell Williams, sophomore OT Marcus Tatum and sophomore LB Austin Smith sat out. ... Indiana State was facing its first SEC opponents since 1995, when the Sycamores lost at Ole Miss 56-10. ... RB Ty Chandler’s 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the 11th kick return touchdown by the Vols under fifth-year coach Butch Jones.