Tennessee took the phrase, "a win is a win", to heart today in a very mediocre performance against North Texas. The Mean Green continued their offensive struggles but had an unexpected defensive performance. While Tennessee seemed to be working through flaws in their offense as well before traveling to Mizzou next weekend.
In what was expected to be a 40+ point blowout, North Texas put up a rather impressive defensive performance. The Mean Green picked up one turnover via interception and forced a fumble, although it was recovered by the Volunteers. The defense also managed to hold Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs to only 136 yards on 23 attempts without a passing touchdown. The running game of the volunteers made up for the poor performance from Dobbs, however, as the North Texas defense struggled to stop and allowed 237 yards on the ground. On offense, the Mean Green had a few solid drives but never had a real opportunity to score. Quarterback DaMarcus Smith finished with only 103 yards passing and managed negative 6 yards rushing on 11 carries. Backup running back, Willie Ivery, seemed to provide the only sparks for the offense, picking up 44 yards on four carries.
For a team that entered as a 41.5 point favorite, the Volunteers struggled to establish a tempo offensively throughout the game. Their main source of offensive production came from the running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd. The two backs combined for 199 yards and three touchdowns on the day. Kamara averaged 8.5 yards on 15 carries in a very impressive showing for him. Defensively, the Volunteers came up big when it mattered. The Mean Green were only allowed 2 of their 12 third down conversions attempts and had both of their fourth down attempts stopped by the Volunteer defense.
North Texas will find themselves right back in Tennessee next week as they travel to take on Middle Tennessee State. Coach Mike Canales and the Mean Green seem to be slowly improving and could put up a fight against the Blue Raiders if they can get some sort of offensive production. Middle Tennessee, on the other hand, will be looking to become bowl eligible at home and will surely not go down easily.