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For one night at least, Tennessee acts like an SEC powerhouse again

They know what’s coming. They’re well aware of those consecutive road trips to Norman and Athens in the coming weeks. And they’ve not forgotten about those three weeks requiring a road trip to Ole Miss, a home date with Alabama, and a road trip to South Carolina later this season. Your reminders are not necessary.

For one night, though, none of that mattered.

Tennessee crushed Utah State 38-7 on Sunday night and, before its first sellout in seven years, had 102,000 in orange rocking Neyland Stadium like it did so many times throughout the 1990’s. The Vols used a Pig Howard eight-yard end around, a fumbled kickoff return and a 12-yard Justin Worley touchdown toss to Brendan Downs all in the span of three plays to build a 14-0 lead six minutes into the first quarter, carried a 17-0 lead into halftime, and then dealt the Aggies a knockout blow when Worley found Von Pearson for a 27-yard scoring strike with 5:31 to go in the fourth quarter.

Worley hit 27-of-38 attempts – connecting with 10 different receivers – for 273 yards and three touchdowns. He was much better than his Heisman darkhorse counterpart, as Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton connected on 18-of-35 throws for only 144 yards with one touchdown and two picks.

The Vols’ defense dominated Utah State throughout the night, allowing only 244 yards of total offense, 11 first downs and three third-down conversions in 14 tries.

A 31-point thumping may against a physically overmatched visitor from the Mountain West may have seemed preordained after the fact, but Utah State was the hottest upset pick in college football’s opening weekend. In fact, the line sank all the way down below five points by kickoff. Tennessee covered with ease.

This is not to say Butch Jones’ Vols were perfect, however. College football’s only offensive line tasked with replacing all five of its starters failed to control the line of scrimmage. Seven Big Orange ball carriers combined to rush the ball 39 times for a mere 110 yards and two touchdowns. Jones has recruited exceptionally well, but offensive lines are not built overnight. This will be a theme throughout the 2014 season for Tennessee, and there are monsters waiting in those woods.

For one passionate night at Neyland Stadium, however, none of that mattered.

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11 Responses to “For one night at least, Tennessee acts like an SEC powerhouse again”
  1. woebegong says: Aug 31, 2014 10:56 PM

    I think they will struggle pretty hard in the SEC this year, but next year those big horses are going to be a good unit I think. I am not sure how many games their QB can make them competitive because he can’t keep depending on his receivers to make the circus catches but eventually they will be good next year I think. This year a 50% season has got to be considered a success. Their coach I think envisions building up a team together with all these young kids he has now, versus having the pieces come in together year after year, so we shall see how that works out. He sure has a stable of young folks that have bought into his system, so he has a good shot.

  2. 1consports says: Aug 31, 2014 10:57 PM

    This is not a well-written article. First off, not the first sellout in seven years. First home opener (usually against a non-power 5 school) sellout in seven years.

  3. vols84 says: Aug 31, 2014 10:59 PM

    All we need is 5 more wins. I think Vols fans have to have Mizzou circled on the calendar as a make or break game. This was a very solid effort tonight. Played a lot of true freshman tonight.

  4. tigersfandan says: Aug 31, 2014 11:25 PM

    This was a statement win for the Vols.

  5. mannyicey says: Sep 1, 2014 7:59 AM

    Wow. So that means the only SEC team that lost to a non-SEC team on opening day was Vanderbilt.

  6. jimbo75025 says: Sep 1, 2014 8:48 AM

    For the first time in a few years you can actually see the excitement about the sleeping giant that is UT football. Been a long time. I only hope it can continue-that stretch in a few weeks is going to be ugly

  7. chc4 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:51 AM

    Great that they beat Utah State. But until they get better QB play they simply won’t compete with UGA, Bama and other SEC powers. But it is nice to see them returning to a certain level of respectability.

  8. delashmit says: Sep 1, 2014 12:16 PM

    Great start. Way to go Vols. GBO. Vol For Life.

  9. onlyoneleft says: Sep 1, 2014 3:05 PM

    Jones had better enjoy it as that QB will not carry them far.

  10. amosalanzostagg says: Sep 1, 2014 4:03 PM

    Proud of Tennessee. (until we play them)

    May be you can beat OU since we laid an egg against them.


  11. houndofthebaskervols says: Sep 1, 2014 6:13 PM

    Before anybody gets carried away, the Vols averaged 4.85 yards per play, second worst in the league next to Vandy’s 4.4.
    The defense looked much improved and faster than in the last 10 years. Worley looked more than respectable. The WRs looked great. Not much to complain about, but we still are a long way off.

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