The Tennessee Vols take on UTEP in Neyalnd stadium tomorrow at noon. Coach Jeremy Pruitt will look to make continued progress on both sides of the ball. The Miners are the third game of the season for the Vols and they are in a rebuilding season with their new head coach. It should be a game the Vols can get some valuable playing time for the reserves.
This will be Tennessee’s last opportunity to figure out many issues that still linger before things begin to get ugly. The Vols will take on the Florida Gators next Saturday, beginning the grueling stretch of schedule ahead. With a brutal five game stretch and the Vols history with injuries, getting more players reps will be key for Tennessee in their second home game tomorrow.
Who's ready for a uniform release? ⛏️🏈
🔵: Desert Sky
🔶: Sun City
◻️: White Sands
Colors: Orange, Navy and Grey
Stadium: Sun Bowl (51,500)
School Location: El Paso, TX
Conference: Conference USA
Head Coach: Dana Dimel (1st year)
2017 Record: Overall (0-12), USA (0-8)
Bowl Results: N/A
Starters Returning: (16), Offense 7, Defense 6, Specialist 3Key Returnees: (OL) Derron Gatewood, (OL) Ruben Guerra, (RB) Joshua Fields, (DB) Nik Needham, (DB) Kalon Beverly, (DB) Justin Rogers, (DL) Trace Mascorro, (KR) Terry Juniel, (K/P) Jason Filley
New head coach Dana Dimel inherits a team that went 0-12 last year and 0-8 in Conference USA. The Minors are riding a 14-game losing streak dating back to the 2017 season opener versus Oklahoma. The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) have been outscored 97-34 so far this season. Minors quarterback Kai Locksley can make plays with his legs and leads the team in rushing yards this season. Locksley’s father is the offensive coordinator at Alabama and coached with Pruitt last season.
The Minors have allowed 5.66 yards per rush and 521 total rushing yards in two games this season. Vols running backs should have a very productive day. The Vols will have a chance to open the field up and create explosive plays. The Minors have two quality cornerbacks which should allow for valuable reps at wideout. The team has forced only one turnover and three sacks for the season. UTEP will look for any positives in tomorrows game much like the Vols, any positivity will be a definite improvement from last season’s performance.
Six Vols scored their first career touchdown for Tennessee versus ETSU. Marquill Osborne, Darrin Kirkland Jr., Josh Palmer, Madre London, Keller Chryst and True freshman Jeremy Banks. Banks shined in his first home game, punching in two touchdowns and added a total of 62 yards on 13 carries. Banks has earned the respect of the coaching staff as well as his teammates. Pruitt has said Banks likes to practice and works hard. This group of running backs have brought a level of physicality Vol fans have been waiting to see.
Bryce Thompson earned Freshman of the Week and looked much better in week 2 than he did against West Virginia. Thompson took an interception 21 yards to the one yard line and made 4 tackles, 2 TFL and one PBU against ETSU. I expect big things to come from Thompson as he continues to learn and earn more playing time. This was the first interception by a true freshman since Darrin Kirkland picked off a pass at Kentucky on Oct. 31, 2015.
Darrin Kirkland Jr. had a pick six in Saturdays win over ETSU. Kyle Phillips deflected the pass, sending it gloriously into Kirkland’s hands. This was his first home game since November, 19th, 2016. The Vols need Kirkland to re-gain his confidence and start playing like he did in 2015. He has a chance to be a leader for this defense and finally live up to his hype. We know it’s in there and I believe he will step up big in the coming weeks.
Darrin Kirkland, Jr. gets a pick 6!!#Vols now have a touchdown in all 3 phases of the game!
The Vols should be able to get an early lead over UTEP allowing reserves to get reps. Pruitt will likely use this game to make major adjustments before SEC play begins next week. This team needs to re-gain all the confidence it can tomorrow. The line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball still remains a huge concern moving forward. My score prediction for the Vols vs UTEP; 53-13.
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