KNOXVILLE — Tennessee used its only game against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent this season to test its entire stable of running backs.
The Volunteers took advantage of having a comfortable lead over Indiana State lead by playing five scholarship running backs in their 42-7 win over the Sycamores on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
"Our mindset is 'These guys are going to play,' and we need those valuable repetitions," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "Even John Kelly, in the first four, five games last year didn't play, so all these individuals need valuable repetitions."
Kelly started against the Sycamores and recorded 80 rushing yards and 60 receiving yards. However, it was two other running backs who made the big plays.
With kick returner Evan Berry out with an injury, freshman Ty Chandler got the nod to return kickoffs and didn't disappoint. Chandler took the opening kick 91 yards to the end zone to put the Vols up early. Chandler finished with just 15 yards on four rushes in the game, but his kickoff return got the Vols going right away.
"I called it," Kelly said about the kickoff return. "I knew he was going to take it to the house, and I was happy for him."
Sophomore Carlin Fils-aime had just three carries but made the most of them by totaling 41 rushing yards and two touchdowns, matching his total number of scores last season. His longest run Saturday covered 30 yards.
"It felt good," Fils-aime said. "It's been a while since I got to go out on the field and do much, so it felt great to be out and be able to play with my teammates."
The Vols also used freshmen Trey Coleman and Tim Jordan late in the game. Jordan generated 22 yards and Coleman 9.
Tuttle gets a taste
Although he did not have a tackle in the game, junior defensive tackle Shy Tuttle had his first action of the season.
Tuttle, who suffered season-ending leg injuries in his first two seasons with the Vols, made his first appearance since last season against South Carolina. He said he was antsy to get back on the field and get some live reps heading into a game against Florida this week.
"It felt good getting back out there and doing my thing and playing football," Tuttle said. "I was a little sluggish in the first but started to get my feet wet."
Tight end Eli Wolf left the game with a sprained ankle, and cornerback Justin Martin left with what Jones described as "a stinger" (nerve injury). Jones said Martin could have played if needed.
After injuring his knee in Monday's opening win against Georgia Tech, senior defensive tackle Kendal Vickers started and made three tackles. In advance of the game, Jones said Vickers was questionable to play.
Berry was also listed as questionable but did not enter the game. Other Vols who did not see action due to injury included receiver Latrell Williams, receiver Tyler Byrd, offensive tackle Marcus Tatum and receiver Josh Smith.
With the three receivers out and leading returning receiver Jauan Jennings out indefinitely because of an injury, players like Brandon Johnson had a chance to shine against the Sycamores. Johnson had 50 receiving yards on four catches, including a 19-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.
"Those are definitely key guys in our receiving corps, and I feel like at this point everyone has to step up," Johnson said. "Everybody is attacking the season, practicing differently now just knowing that anybody can be on the field at this point anytime."
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