KNOXVILLE — To say Tennessee senior linebacker Aaron Beasley lived in the Austin Peay backfield Saturday night might be a stretch.
But not a big stretch.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder from Franklin, Georgia, racked up five tackles for loss for the No. 9 Volunteers, who struggled with the Governors before shaking free for a 30-13 win. The five lost-yardage stops are the most by a Tennessee player since defensive tackle Jesse Mahelona tallied five in the 17-13 loss to Notre Dame in 2004.
"I really couldn't tell how many I had, but I was having fun with my guys," Beasley said. "I was just having fun playing ball. That's all I was really doing."
Through Tennessee's 2-0 start this season that also contains last weekend's 49-13 downing of Virginia in Nashville, the Vols have racked up 25 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. They amassed 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks against the Governors, with Beasley leading the team in those categories and with nine overall stops.
"I thought he tackled extremely well," Vols coach Josh Heupel said. "He was violent. I thought you saw his speed and his athleticism on some of his pressures and how he affected the quarterback. I thought he played really well tonight."
Said fifth-year senior safety Wesley Walker: "I think he's one of the best 'backers in the country for sure. He's the best 'backer I want to play with. He comes to work every day."
Beasley opened this season alongside sixth-year senior and Brigham Young transfer Keenan Pili, but Pili suffered an injury against the Cavaliers and will miss multiple weeks. Sophomore Elijah Herring started Saturday in place of Pili.
"I was interchanging with both linebacker spots," Beasley said, "because I'm playing both the Mike (middle) and the Will (weakside) now. That's really the only change."
Of Tennessee's 11 sacks so far, eight have been by defensive linemen.
Tyler Baron and James Peace Jr. each had two sacks against Virginia, and each had one Saturday, while Kurott Garland and Joshua Josephs collected their first sacks of the season.
"It's one of the areas we've been intentional in having to address," Heupel said. "We're going to play a better opponent next week, and we've got to do that on the road."
Tennessee sixth-year senior kicker and Indiana transfer Charles Campbell didn't have any field-goal attempts in the opener as the Vols tallied seven touchdowns. Against Austin Peay, however, they scored three touchdowns and used three Campbell field goals.
Campbell's successful attempts were from 28, 37 and 22 yards.
"That was a few more than we wanted him to get, but I love Charles," Heupel said. "He's a really confident guy, and it matters to him. This opportunity matters a great deal to him and to his family. He's a great teammate, and I'm really proud of that guy."
Packing the house
Saturday's announced attendance of 101,915 marked the seventh consecutive sellout at Neyland Stadium dating to last September's game against Akron.
This is the longest home sellout streak for the Vols since 2006.
"The fans were unbelievable tonight with the delay at the beginning," Heupel said. "I appreciate them, the student body section and the whole deal."
Odds and ends
Tennessee's inactive players were Pili, senior center Cooper Mays, fifth-year senior nose tackle Elijah Simmons and redshirt junior safety Will Brooks. ... Saturday was just the third time under Heupel in which Tennessee failed to score a first-quarter touchdown, joining the Florida and Georgia games of last season. ... Quarterback Joe Milton III has now attempted 207 passes with the Vols without being intercepted.
Contact David Paschall at [email protected].