Behind Enemy Bylines: Tennessee Volunteers

The Vanderbilt Hustler caught up with Andrew Peters, sports editor of the University of Tennessee Daily Beacon, to preview Vanderbilt’s upcoming matchup with Tennessee.


Miguel Beristain

Vanderbilt running back Ray Davis ran for 122 yards against Florida on Nov. 19, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Miguel Beristain)

Andrew Wilf, Deputy Sports Editor

Last Saturday, the Vanderbilt Commodores (5-6) won their second consecutive SEC game by defeating the Florida Gators at home for the first time since 1988. The Commodores will look to capture their sixth win of the season on Saturday, Nov. 26, when they meet with their state-rival, the No. 10 Tennessee Volunteers (9-2) at 6:30 p.m. CST. A win for Vanderbilt on Saturday would guarantee a bowl appearance for the Commodores.

Before Tennessee’s humiliating loss to South Carolina on Saturday, several analysts picked the Volunteers to be a contender for the college football playoff. Although they are coming off a demoralizing loss that featured star quarterback Hendon Hooker suffering a season-ending torn ACL, the Volunteers enter their matchup with Vanderbilt as 14-point favorites.

To preview Vanderbilt’s 117th matchup with Tennessee, The Hustler spoke with Andrew Peters, the sports editor of the University of Tennessee Daily Beacon, about his game predictions.

Vanderbilt Hustler: What does Hendon Hooker’s season-ending injury mean for Tennessee?

The news with Hooker is pretty hard. I think it’s a little bit deflating from what was already kind of a season-crushing loss. He means a lot to not only his teammates on the field but also to the community. He’s given fans the hope that they needed after a lot of dark seasons. So, it’s a huge bummer from the perspective of everybody. You never want to see a kid as great as Hooker go down, especially in that kind of fashion.

But all that being said, I think Tennessee is in good hands with Joe Milton coming into the game. Milton has been around the program for as long as Hooker, so it’s not like he’s new to the program or anything, and he started last year for a few games. Milton is definitely prepared to come in and take over, especially just for a couple of games, and then he’ll likely be the starter next year. This will be a good opportunity to get some reps in.

How would you describe Tennessee’s 63-38 loss to South Carolina last week?

Shocking is the word that has been used a lot. Tennessee came into that game as a very heavy favorite. They were on their way to a college football playoff appearance if they took care of business, and they just came out and just didn’t handle things well. It was the worst defensive performance they’ve had all year, and it came at the worst possible time. There’s not much that can be said about it.

How do you expect Tennessee to play against Vanderbilt?

I don’t see this really being a great game. I think Tennessee will handle business pretty soundly. That’s to say, I think that Vanderbilt will probably put up some points. Tennessee’s defense is kind of a train wreck this season, especially right now, so I think Vanderbilt will take advantage of that. But, you’ve seen how dominant this Tennessee offense can be. I think that once Milton gets into his flow and gets a few throws under his belt, Tennessee will probably pile on a little bit. As we saw last week, anything can happen, so it could be a tighter game than people expect.

What is your score prediction for Saturday’s game?

52-28, Tennessee. I’ll give Vanderbilt some points.