March 27, 2023

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Tennessee Takes Advantage Of Special Teams Mistakes and Fourth Down Stops In 40-13 Dominant Victory Over LSU

Right from the opening kickoff, the Tennessee Volunteers took control of the football game against the LSU Tigers recovering a muffed Jack Bech kickoff return and then quickly scoring on a Jabari Small touchdown run giving the Volunteers a early 7-0 lead. From that point on, it was all Tennessee.

LSU’s special teams once again put the home team in a bind as Dee Williams had a 59 yard punt return that set up a Chase McGrath field goal to give the Volunteers a 10-0 lead just four minutes into the game. Tennessee would push its lead to 20 points, but LSU would try to cut the deficit after the Tigers had a one yard touchdown run from Josh Williams to make it a 20-7 game. After a missed field goal by McGrath, LSU had some life, but the Tigers offense would go for it on fourth down from their own 47 yard line and ended up not converting with 23 seconds left to go before halftime.The Volunteers offense quickly went down the field and added three more points before halftime taking a 23-7 lead at the break.

In the first half, LSU’s special teams miscues and three unsuccessful fourth down conversions all played a role in giving the Volunteers 23 points. The two big special teams plays contributed to ten points while 13 points were contributed to the Volunteers putting their offense in good positions after the three fourth down stops.

“We got behind by 10 and couldn’t match possessions at that time. We were within the analytical numbers too so I was keeping an eye on where we were from that position. Once you get behind against a team like that, you’re listening both to those and your opportunities to score, so it felt like I needed to.”

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly on decision to go for it on fourth down three times in the first half

The Volunteers did not need much help in the second half outgaining LSU 246 yards to 137 while outscoring the Tigers 17-6 in the process.

Hendon Hooker continues his Heisman Trophy campaign with another efficient day on the road in a hostile environment. The veteran Volunteers quarterback completed 17 of 27 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with his two favorite receivers often as Britt McCoy had seven catches for 140 yards and Jalin Hyatt had both touchdown grabs in the football game for Tennessee.

The Volunteers were also able to run the football at will against a really good LSU defensive front with 263 rushing yards led by Jabari Small, who had 127 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.

LSU’s offense had promising drives in the first half, but the Tigers left points on the scoreboard when failing on a fourth down and three inside the ten yard line. The Tigers did have a 96 yard scoring drive in the first half to narrow the gap at 20-7, but that was as close as it got for them. Jayden Daniels ended the game completing 32 of 45 passes for 300 yards and a touchdown with the touchdown pass going to Kayshon Boutte towards the end of the football game. It was Boutte’s first touchdown reception of the season. Daniels was pressured all game long as he was sacked five times in the contest with 2.5 sacks coming from Tennessee’s standout pass rusher Byron Young. Losing Will Campbell before the game and Garrett Dellinger during the game really hurt the protection up front.

“Will Campbell, in our walkthrough, had an episode, and we really didn’t know what it was. He’s had a battery of tests; they’ve ruled out virtually life-threatening, serious medical situations. He’s still going to have a couple of more tests done before he’s released, so that’s a positive thing. I don’t know if that’s the only thing, but certainly, that affected our team.”

“Garrett Dellinger took a blow to the knee. It’s a knee strain. We’ll get an MRI; he had a knee brace on and that’s the good news. We’ll get an MRI and have more information for you in the next press conference.”

LSU head coach Brian Kelly on Will Campbell and Garrett Dellinger

The Volunteers would end the game the exact way they started with a turnover intercepting Daniels for the first time this season and then proceeding to run out the remainder of the clock.

Overall, Tennessee outgained LSU 502 yards to 355 in the football game and prevented the Tigers from having any sort of life throughout the entire contest as Tiger Stadium was full of Volunteer fans at the end of the football game.

Tennessee keeps its undefeated season alive improving to 5-0 and will look forward to a big time matchup at home against number one Alabama.

Meanwhile, it was a very disappointing result for the LSU Tigers as the loss drops their record to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in SEC play. Next week, LSU travels on the road to take on the 4-2 Florida Gators.

“Well, that was not what we planned or expected. We expected to play much better than that. Certainly, when you fumble the opening kickoff and give an extra possession to a team that plays fast and loves extra possessions, and spot them 10 points on special teams, you put yourself in a huge hole. That’s what we did. And then, our details were not very good. I could stand up here all day-that falls on coaching. That’s on me, and I have to coach better. We’ve got to coach better, we’ve got to coach our team better.”

LSU head coach Brian Kelly

Check out some of the photos that were taken by Geralyn Thomassee during the LSU Tennessee game. The entire photo gallery will be posted on Gridiron Football later this week.

Drive By Drive Recap:

1st Quarter:

LSU won the toss and elected to receive.

Jack Bech muffs the opening kickoff and Tennessee’s Will Brooks recovers the fumble at the Tigers’ 27 yard line.

Tennessee running back Jabari Small gets a first down on his first two carries. Hendon Hooker completes his first pass of the game to Ramel Keaton, who is replacing Cedric Tillman at receiver. After a personal foul by Jay Ward, Tennessee punches the football in with a touchdown run by Jabari Small. Tennessee takes an early 7-0 lead and takes advantage of the Tigers’ fumble.

Jayden Daniels hits Mason Taylor for a five yard gain on first down. After a two yard gain on second down, LSU would be in its first third down situation of the game. Jayden Daniels’ pass was incomplete as it was behind Kayshon Boutte, who was open on the slant.

Tennessee’s special teams is making the difference in the game early on as Dee Williams had a 58 yard punt return putting the Volunteers once again in great field position inside the 30 yard line. LSU punter Jay Bramblett saved a touchdown on the tackle. Greg Brooks makes a big hit on third down and two to force a 35 yard field goal attempt. Chase McGrath would make the field goal giving the Volunteers a 10-0 lead.

Jack Bech returns the kickoff 12 yards to the LSU’s 16 yard line and that’s where the Tigers start their second drive of the game. Daniels completes a pop pass to Kayshon Boutte, who gains a yard. Jayden Daniels had time in the pocket, but bailed out of it and picked up a yard on second down. LSU is then penalized with illegal participation to put the Tigers in a third and 13 hole. Daniels completes to Jack Bech, who picks up 14 yards and moves the chains for LSU. Daniels throws the ball to Josh Williams, who comes out of the backfield and picks up a 19 yard chunk to give LSU back to back first downs. After a four yard gain on first down, Daniels throws a seven yard completion to Boutte for the Tigers’ third first down of the drive. There is some miscommunication on the Volunteers defense and Tennessee had to burn its first timeout of the half. Jayden Daniels keeps it on the zone read and gets his face mask pulled by Jeremy Banks. LSU gets the ball at the 21 yard line. Tennessee’s defense stuffs two running plays by Emery and LSU has a third down and eight at the 18 yard line. Daniels keeps the football and picks up four yards. LSU makes the decision to go for it on fourth and four. Daniels throws the ball to Boutte, who tries to stretch the ball to the first down mark, but is ruled just short. It is a turnover on downs eliminating a promising LSU drive. The play would be reviewed, but the call on the field stood. It is a turnover on downs and Tennessee takes over from their own 10 yard line.

Hendon Hooker’s pass was complete to Small for a three yard pickup. Hendon Hooker evades Tigers defenders and picks up 11 yards on the run to move the chains. The Volunteers get a 25 yard catch from Hooker to Brit McCoy. Hooker finds McCoy again for another first down pickup. After two straight passing plays, the Volunteers go back on the ground. After an incompletion to the back of the end zone, the Volunteers had second down and ten at the 23. After Greg Penn and Micah Baskerville make the tackle on a two yard gain, the Volunteers would have third down and eight. After Hooker throws the ball to the back of the end zone, the Tigers would hold defensively forcing a 38 yard attempt by McGrath. McGrath would go on to make his second field goal attempt. It was a 11 play, 68 yard scoring drive for Tennessee and the Volunteers extend their lead at 13-0.

On the first play of the next Tigers drive, Daniels gets immediately sacked for a seven yard loss by Joshua Josephs. Daniels picks up ten yards to make it a third down and seven. Daniels connects on the right sideline with his favorite target Malik Nabers to move the chains. The Tigers are then penalized for a holding penalty negating a nice run by Emery. Daniels hits Brian Thomas for a seven yard pickup. Daniels fires and find Brian Thomas on his most aggressive pass of the game to set up a third down and one. The quarter would run out as Tennessee leads 13-0 at the end of the first 15 minutes.

2nd Quarter:

The Tigers try to throw the ball on third down, but the pass was incomplete. For the second time, the Tigers go for it on fourth down and do not convert. The Volunteers get another stop on fourth down and takes over at the LSU 45 yard line. The Volunteers take hold of the momentum as Hendon Hooker throws a 45 yard touchdown strike right on the money to Jalin Hyatt. It was Hooker’s ninth touchdown pass of the season. The Volunteers are continuing to pad on the lead and the Tigers are in a big hole to this point down by 20 points.

With the touchback and Tennessee’s offsides penalty, LSU starts the next drive from their own 30 yard. After coming back this game recovering from the hand injury, Garrett Dellinger appears to be hurt and is having trouble walking on his own power. After two incompletions, the Tigers have third down and ten. Daniels completes to Nabers to move the chains and gets an extra 15 yards added on the facemask penalty. Daniels fires to Kyren Lacy on the right side for a seven yard gain. Daniels keeps on the zone read, but Tennessee’s Doneiko Slaughter and Roman Harrison were on top of it forcing a two yard loss. On third down, the pressure got to Daniels as Harrison and Byron Young make the sack forcing a Jay Bramblett punt. The Tigers came close to pinning the Volunteers inside the one yard line, but the ball bounces in the end zone for a touchback. After scoring a touchdown in one play, Tennessee starts its next drive from the 20 yard line.

Hooker gets a five yard gain on first down followed by a four yard pickup to force a third down and one. Tennessee calls their second timeout of the first half and has one more remaining. McCoy carries the ball on the sweep and picks up a first down on a three yard gain. Hooker keeps the ball and picks up two yards with Gaye making the tackle. The Tigers are then penalized 15 yards with a pass interference on Colby Richardson. Hooker completes another pass to McCoy with Jarrick Bernard-Converse immediately making the tackle. Dylan Sampson gets immediately tackled by Penn and Ojulari to force another third down. Greg Brooks hits Hendon Hooker on the blitz causing the fumble, but it is recovered by Tennessee’s Sampson, who actually returns the ball 11 yards to at least give the Volunteers the opportunity to go for it on fourth down. Tennessee burns its final timeout of the first half. Tennessee converts on fourth down when Hooker completes a shovel pass to Princeton Fant for a five yard completion. After two straight incompletions, the Volunteers are dealt with a third down and ten. The Tigers force the first Tennessee punt of the game and Kolby Morgan pins the Tigers inside their own four yard line.

Backed at their own four yard line, Daniels throws a dime to Jaray Jenkins to move the chains. Daniels gets a big run for 16 yards to pick up a first down. Daniels rolls to the right and hits Malik Nabers for a nine yard gain. Emery gets no gain on second down, but picks up the yardage on third down to move the chains. After an incompletion on first down, Daniels hits Brian Thomas for a 20 yard gain to move the chains. Daniels would hit Bech for a five completion, but an illegal formation negates the play putting them in a bind, but Daniels’ legs gets them out of it with a spectacular 17 yard run plus a ten yard holding penalty added to the end of the run. The Tigers get the ball inside the Volunteers’ 15 yard line. After a one yard pickup, Daniels is sacked by Jeremy Banks and Bryson Eason forcing third down, but Daniels hits an open Mason Taylor in the middle of the field as he somersaults to the one yard line. Josh Williams punches the ball in the end zone to finally put the Tigers on the scoreboard. It was a 12 play, 96 yard drive that took over five minutes off the clock. Tennessee leads LSU 20-7.

Tennessee starts its next drive from their own 28 yard line. Hooker throws an incompletion on first down, but the Volunteers get a 25 yard run from Small, but gets tripped up by the turf monster essentially saving six points for the Tigers. After two running plays, Hooker picks up a first down with a three yard gain on third down to move the chains. The Volunteers get called for holding pushing them back to a first and 20. After a five yard completion on first down and a six yard run, the Volunteers would have a third down and nine. Hyatt would have a one yard reception with Jarrick Bernard-Converse making the tackle. LSU takes back to back timeouts. McGrath attempts a 51 yard field goal and hits the upright. The field goal is no good and LSU takes over from their own 33 yard line.

Daniels stands tall and hits Jenkins for a 22 yard reception, but Jenkins drops a big pass the ensuing play. After Daniels threw the ball away and had a miscommunication on third down, the Tigers go for it a third time on a fourth and ten and do not get it as Young has his second sack of the game.

The Volunteers had two big plays available, but both resulted in incompletions. Brit McCoy gets a 32 yard catch from Hooker and the Volunteers quickly go to the line to spike the football and set up a Hooker McGrath 32 yard field goal attempt with three seconds left to go until halftime. McGrath would make his third field goal of the game and Tennessee takes a 23-7 lead to halftime.

3rd Quarter:

After a 20 yard kickoff return, Tennessee starts the first drive of the second half at their own 24 yard line. Hooker takes a deep shot to Hyatt and Jay Ward is called for pass interference giving the the Volunteers 15 yards on the penalty. Hooker picked up four yards on a run play and after another run, Hooker completes a short pass to move the downs. The Volunteers have a false start and have a 1st Down and 15. Wright misses two LSU defenders and picks up 12 yards. Hooker completes to Hyatt to set up a third down and one. Small gets two yards and moves the chains to put the Volunteers at the Tigers’ 40 yard line. Hooker carries the ball and picks up a 26 yard run to put the Volunteers inside the 15 yard line. The ensuing play, Hooker connects with a wide open Hyatt for his second touchdown pass of the game. It was also the second time that both Hooker and Hyatt connected for six points. It was a nine play, 76 yard scoring drive for the Volunteers and they extend their lead at 30-7.

LSU starts its first drive of the second half at their own 25 yard line. On the first play of the second half, Daniels connects with Jenkins for a first down. After a two yard pickup by Williams, Daniels throws an incompletion which was aimed towards Kayshon Boutte. Tamarion McDonald was on the coverage for the Volunteers. Daniels would get sacked by Harrison and Young. It would be the fifth sack of the football game for the Volunteres. This would be the second time that they would meet in the backfield for a sack too. Bramblett had a booming 66 yard punt to pin the Volunteers inside their own five yard line.

Small picks up a tough two yards on the first play of the drive. Hooker throws a deep incompletion intended for Keyton as Richardson was on the coverage. This would force a third down and eight. The Volunteers would pick up the third down as Hooker hits McCoy for a 12 yard pickup. The next play, an targeting penalty was called on Greg Brooks, but it was overturned. So, instead of offsetting penalties, the Volunteers were called for offensive pass interference. The Volunteers would then have first down and 19. Greg Brooks flies to the football and tackles Hooker for a two yard pickup. Hooker fumbles the football as it was forced by Ali Gaye, but it was recovered by Tennessee. With an illegal participation penalty, the Volunteers have a third down and six. The pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Gaye forcing fourth down.

LSU starts their next drive at the only 28 yard line as Payton Brooks had a 45 yard punt. Defensive holding was called by Kamal Haden giving them a first down at the 38 yard line. Daniels’ screen to Thomas was sniffed out by Banks for a four yard loss. Daniels hits Lacy near the left sideline for a six yard pickup. Daniels throws the swing pass to Williams out of the backfield and slips for a four yard loss. Bramblett is back on to punt again. Williams calls fair catch and after Bramblett boots a 56 yard punt, the Volunteers start the drive again from inside their own ten yard line.

Hooker hits a wide open McCoy and Bernard-Converse knocks him out of bounds after a 48 yard gain. Sage Ryan causes a fumble, but it rolls out of bounds and Wright picks up a first down. Hooker picks up four yards on the run and then, two plays later, the Volunteers pick up another first down on fourth down. LSU is penalized 15 yards on a pass interference from Richardson. The ball is placed at the six yard line. Small walks in for a five yard touchdown untouched and the game is starting to get out of reach for the Tigers. McGrath connects on the extra point and the Volunteers score another touchdown on a 95 yard touchdown drive. Tennessee is in control with a 37-7 lead.

Daniels throws an incomplete pass to Jaray Jenkins on first down. Noah Cain gets a 27 yard gain on the catch and run. Daniels completes to Lacy for seven yards, and then has a ten yard run to move the chains. Daniels scrambles on the keeper and gets a one yard gain ending the third quarter. Tennessee is in command at 37-7.

4th Quarter:

Jayden Daniels hits Malik Nabers for a touchdown, but it is called back as Emery Jones was called for holding. Daniels completes a four yard pass to Lacy. Banks was offsides for Tennessee making it third down and ten for LSU. Daniels completes a 12 yard pass to Nabers in order to move the chains. Williams has a one yard pickup on first down and Daniels throws an incomplete pass to Lacy. Daniels completes to Brian Thomas Jr. for a two yard pickup and it is fourth and seven. LSU is the beneficiary of a pass interference call and gets a first and goal. Daniels keeps it and loses three yards so it is second and goal from the five yard line. Daniels throws a touchdown pass to Kayshon Boutte, which is his first of the season. The Tigers go for two and do not get it as Daniels is sacked. It was a 13 play, 75 yard scoring drive for LSU. Tennessee is still out in front at 37-13.

Jimmy Holliday backtracks and fumbles the football. He brings it out to the 12 and an illegal block in the back call pins then back at the five yard line. Tennessee would get a 50 yard gain by Small and the Volunteers have a new set of downs at the Tigers’ 46 yard line. After two runs of seven yards, the Volunteers have a third down and three. Wright gets tackled by Tolan and Ojulari for no gain forcing a fourth down and three for the Volunteers. The Volunteers go for it on fourth down and Hooker completes the pass to Fant for an eight yard gain. The Volunteers are a perfect three for three on fourth down in comparison to the Tigers’ being 0 for three on fourth down. Wright gets no gain on first down and two yards on second down, but gets nine yards on third down. Tennessee calls their first timeout of the second half. Small gets a couple of runs and McGrath then tries a 40 yard attempt, which is good. Tennessee puts 40 points on the scoreboard. It was a 13 play, 81 yard scoring drive.

Daniels completes a two yard pass to McDonald. Malik Nabers has a 23 yard catch to midfield to give the Tigers another first down. Boutte gets a nine yard reception and then gets another eight yard reception. Daniels dumps it off to Cain, who gets nine yards on the catch. Daniels hits Nabers for an eleven yard gain. The Tigers are inside the 15 yard line and Daniels picks up a first down inside the five yard line with his legs with 23 seconds left to play in the game. Daniels’ pass is incomplete, which was intended for Bech in the back of the end zone. The Tennessee Volunteers end this game as they have started as Trevon Flowers intercepts Daniels in the end zone. This was Daniels’ first interception of the season.

Tennessee would kneel it and run the rest of the clock.

Final Score: Tennessee 40 LSU 13

Final Stats:

Offensive Cumulative Stats:

Rushing Attempts4928
Average Per Rush5.42.0
Rushing TDs21
Yards Gained27294
Yards Lost939
Completion Percentage61%71%
Avg Per Completion14.19.4
Passing TDs21
Drops (%)2 (07%)1 (02%)
Rushing 1st Downs125
Passing 1st Downs1115
Penalty 1st Downs45
Avg Yds/Play6.54.9

Offense Efficiency Comparison

Red Zone Points3013
RZ TDs Rush-Pass2-11-1
RZ FG Made-Att3-30-0
RZ Turns02
3rd Downs7-167-15
4th Downs3-30-3
Pts Off Turns00

Special Teams Comparison:

Field Goals4-50-0
Kick Returns3-572-22
Punt Returns1-580-0

Defensive Comparison:

Solo Tackles3439
Tackles for Loss92
TFL Yards-43-8
Pass Breakups31
QB Hurries11
Sacks Yards-34-0
Takeaways FR-INT1-10-0
Forced Fumbles03
Fumble Recoveries10
FR Yards00
INT Yards00
TDs INT-FR0-00-0

Tennessee Passing:

PASS TOTALS17-282392061

Tennessee Receiving:

6 RECEIVERS1723924814.127631042

Tennessee Rushing:

6 RUSHERS492632495.4

Tennessee Punting:


Tennessee Field Goals:


Tennessee All-Purpose Yards:


Tennessee Defense:

#Player (Starter)TotTkSoloSackTFLIntBrUpQBHFF
5K.Hadden (DB)83000000
2J.McCollough (DB)75000000
14C.Charles (DB)76000000
1T.Flowers (DB)52001000
6B.Young (DL)522.52.50000
12T.McDonald (DB)42000100
21O.Thomas (DL)3100.50000
38S.Page III31000000
11L.Bumphus (DL)21000000
33J.Banks (LB)21010100
95D.Terry (DL)10000000
10J.Mitchell (LB)00000100

Tennessee Punt Returns:


Tennessee Kick Returns:


Tennessee Team Stats By Quarter:


Tennessee Scoring Summary:

113:46TDRUSHJ.Small 1 yd rush
PAT kick by C.McGrath (GOOD)
111:08FGC.McGrath 35 yd Field Goal4/8/1:230-10
102:26FGC.McGrath 38 yd Field Goal11/68/3:220-13
214:39TDPASSJ.Hyatt 45 yd reception thrown by H.Hooker
PAT kick by C.McGrath (GOOD)
200:00FGC.McGrath 32 yd Field Goal5/32/0:237-23
311:47TDPASSJ.Hyatt 14 yd reception thrown by H.Hooker
PAT kick by C.McGrath (GOOD)
302:13TDRUSHJ.Small 5 yd rush
PAT kick by C.McGrath (GOOD)
402:39FGC.McGrath 32 yd Field Goal13/81/8:4713-40

LSU Passing


LSU Receiving

11THOMAS JR.,B5370207.45100200
9 RECEIVERS323001239.443741551

LSU Rushing

4EMERY JR.,J44021
4 RUSHERS28551172

LSU Punting


LSU Field Goals


LSU All Purpose Yards


LSU Defense

#Player (Starter)TotTkSoloSackTFLIntBrUpQBHFF
23M.Baskerville (LB)154010010
24J.Bernard-Converse (CB)118000000
3G.Brooks Jr. (S)106010001
30G.Penn III (LB)83000000
18B.Ojulari (DE)62000000
11A.Gaye (DE)53000101
2M.Garner (DB)41000000
92M.Wingo (DL)43000000
6M.Jones Jr.31000000
40H.Perkins Jr.31000000
99J.Roy (DL)32000000
22C.Richardson (DB)21000000
4J.Emery Jr.10000000
5J.Ward (DB)10000000

LSU Punt Returns


LSU Kick Returns


LSU Team Stats By Quarter


LSU Scoring Summary

203:05TDRUSHJ.Williams 1 yd rush
PAT kick by D.Ramos (GOOD)
411:32TDPASSK.Boutte 5 yd reception thrown by J.Daniels
PAT rush by J.Daniels (FAIL)

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