Tennessee is supposed to have an “easy” first week against Appalachian State, but things got considerably more difficult for the Volunteers in the first quarter on Thursday night.
One of Tennessee’s best defenders, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, was ejected during the first quarter for targeting.
Reeves-Maybin, a senior and Tennessee’s team captain, drilled the Mountaineers punt returner Jaquil Capel on a high, hanging punt. The officials immediately ejected him for targeting and after further review, they upheld the call. Volunteer fans likely didn’t care much for the ruling, but the two players helmets did collide, and Capel was in a defenseless position.
Nevertheless, the senior is a huge loss for Tennessee even in an “easier” game like this. He made 105 total tackles, including 14.0 for loss, both of which were the most for Tennessee’s defense last year. He also had six sacks, four pass defenses, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Ironically, Reeves-Maybin had very similar numbers his sophomore year two years ago when he recorded 101 total tackles, including 11.0 for a loss, two sacks and one interception.
Without Reeves-Maybin for the rest of the night, junior linebacker Cortez McDowell will mostly play weak-side linebacker.
Tennessee shouldn’t have an issue getting passed Appalachian State without its defensive star, but the Mountaineers held a 13-3, midway through the second quarter at time of publish.
Fans may recall Appalachian State pulled off one of the most incredible upsets in college football history against Michigan in Week 1 of the 2007 season on Sept 1, exactly nine years ago Thursday. The Volunteers are ranked No. 9 in the AP Top 25 and 10th in the coaches poll.