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Tennessee defense causes trouble for win against Mississippi State 20-10

Tennessee's defense delivered the kind of performance that Jeremy Pruitt's teams produced consistently during his career as an assistant coach.

Posted: Oct 12, 2019 8:41 PM
Updated: Oct 14, 2019 11:01 AM

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's defense finally delivered the kind of performance that Jeremy Pruitt's teams produced consistently during his career as an assistant coach.

The Volunteers intercepted three passes, shut down Southeastern Conference rushing leader Kylin Hill and withstood an injury to quarterback Brian Maurer in a 20-10 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday.

Tennessee (2-4, 1-2 SEC) ended a six-game skid against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents by providing the kind of effort Vols fans had expected from their defense ever since Pruitt — a former national championship defensive coordinator at Alabama and Florida State — took over Tennessee's program last season.

"We played clean on defense," said Darrell Taylor, who recorded two of Tennessee's seven sacks. "We were preaching that all week. That has pretty much been our motto all week. We played clean on defense — and we played fast."

Before Saturday, Tennessee just had eight sacks all season to match Texas A&M and Vanderbilt for the lowest total of any SEC team. Tennessee recorded 10 tackles for loss against Mississippi State (3-3, 1-2) after having just two last week in a 43-14 loss to No. 3 Georgia.

Tennessee safety Nigel Warrior said the difference was evident in practice this week and that defensive line coach Tracy Rocker had pointed it out.

"Coach Rocker, he said when we were younger we all had that little boy that just wanted to play football no matter what," said Warrior, who had an interception and two pass breakups. "We came out and played like those little boys who were in the front yard or backyard and wanted to go ball out and just wanted to touch the ball."

It was obvious in the way Tennessee handled Hill.

Hill entered the day averaging 119.2 yards rushing per game, but Tennessee limited him to 13 yards on 11 carries.

"We just couldn't find any offensive rhythm," Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead said.

That dominant defense helped Tennessee overcome the loss of Maurer, who was 4 of 7 for 61 yards with two interceptions in his second career start.

The Vols led 7-3 when Maurer dove at the end of a 13-yard run and landed head-first late in the second quarter. The freshman quarterback grabbed the back of his neck immediately after the play, stayed in the game for the rest of that series but didn't play again.

Pruitt said after the game that Maurer sustained a concussion. Jarrett Guarantano, who had lost his job as Tennessee's starting quarterback last week, stepped in for Maurer and went 6 of 7 for 106 yards.

Guarantano's outing included a game-clinching 39-yard completion to Tyler Byrd with 2:35 left. Tennessee was clinging to a 13-10 lead when Byrd caught a pass about 2 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, went to his left and raced down the sideline until he reached the end zone.

"Today was extremely fun," Byrd said.

It wasn't nearly as much fun for Mississippi State,

Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens was benched in favor of freshman Garrett Shrader after the Penn State graduate transfer went 6 of 11 for 67 yards and throwing two interceptions in the first half.

Shrader was 5 of 10 for 79 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for 62 yards on 13 carries.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15229

Reported Deaths: 723
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds99925
Lauderdale73561
Madison72023
Scott65012
Neshoba63038
Jones59825
Forrest55338
DeSoto5337
Rankin4217
Leake42112
Holmes39728
Copiah3104
Jackson30513
Attala29216
Yazoo2734
Newton2714
Leflore25831
Harrison2577
Lincoln25628
Monroe25525
Lamar2355
Oktibbeha23512
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Pike20211
Adams19615
Noxubee1856
Wayne1771
Warren1719
Washington1687
Covington1652
Bolivar16011
Jasper1574
Smith15011
Lee1496
Kemper14411
Clarke14318
Chickasaw13312
Lafayette1314
Coahoma1214
Carroll11711
Marion1159
Clay1124
Winston1121
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Yalobusha905
Hancock9011
Tate891
Grenada893
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Union835
Marshall833
Montgomery831
Sunflower813
Jefferson Davis772
Tippah7311
Panola703
Webster691
Calhoun644
Humphreys607
Amite601
Walthall550
Tunica543
Prentiss523
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Tishomingo320
Pontotoc323
Stone300
Franklin282
Tallahatchie271
Quitman260
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene121
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00
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