The Tennessee Vols squeaked past Northern Illinois 13-9 Saturday night in front of a small crowd (by Neyland Stadium standards) of 99,539. While the Vols managed to win the game, the score was not what I expected in this non-conference match-up.
Nick Stephens was given the starting QB role and went 10-of-17 for 156 yards and a TD. I was not able to watch this game, but did catch a few minutes near then end online. The Tennessee offense once again did not perform up to par. While Stephens seemed to do a pretty good job, the running game was not very impressive. Arian Foster had 18 carries for only 75 yards, and Montario Hardesty managed only 20 yards on 7 carries. Lack of offensive production continues to hurt Tennessee’s game. Give credit once again, however, to the UT defense. They allowed only 118 passing yards and 76 rushing yards. Eric Berry had a 48-yard interception, and the defense once again kept pressure on the QB.
The toughest part of the schedule is coming up, with Georgia next week in Athens followed by Miss. State and Alabama. I think moving Nick Stephens in at QB is a huge step in the right direction, but the offense still has lots of work ahead of them if the Vols want to win these tough SEC games.