Beginning with Tyler Bray’s pass that was intercepted and returned for an Akron touchdown on just the fourth play of the game, Tennessee found themselves in a difficult position for much of this game. It wasn’t until the Vols were able to get their third interception deep into the final quarter that Big Orange Country was able to exhale.
For the neutral fan, this was a highly entertaining game. A tally of 977 total yards, 630 of which were in the air, will tend to create that kind of enjoyable viewing. But for the Volunteer fan, this was anything but fun. There were visions of a season-destroying loss that kept appearing in the collective consciousness of the Vol Nation.
Archibald Barns returned a Tyler Bray pass 100 yards for a touchdown. Eric Gordon returned a Jordan Rogers pass 90 yards for a touchdown.
That’s the kind of night it was at Neyland Stadium in one of the most memorable Tennessee-Vanderbilt games in a generation or more.
At the end of the third quarter, the much-maligned Vol rushing game had 100 yards on the ground, and Vol freshman QB Justin Worley had more passing yards than the Razorbacks’ veteran gunslinger Tyler Wilson.
But the score at that point was Hogs 35 Vols 7.
It was all about big plays.
Looking for something to build on, Derek Dooley wasn’t afraid to put it on the shoulders of freshman QB Justin Worley. Delivering passes to 9 different receivers, Worley racked up 291 passing on a 23-for-33 performance. Da’Rick Rogers was Worley’s favorite target, getting 9 grabs for 137 yards, including a 47-yard TD strike.
Obvious kudos go to the defense for the shutout, only the third since 2003 (the last being last year’s 50-0 opener against UT-Martin), and the first on Homecoming since the blanking of Okie State in 1995.
Concerns still rain down on the running game. Against a poor team, it was atrocious, with only 120 net yards on 45 carries. That’s a 2.7 yards per carry clip.
The most entertaining part of the evening was the 6:10 pm call to a frat house to round up a place kicker in a pinch.
Tennessee 52 Mississippi 14
13 Nov 2010 | Neyland Stadium | 96,044Recap | Boxscore | Play-by-play | Drive Chart
The Tennessee Vols looked like a bunch of youngsters with their whole lives ahead of them, without a care in the world. The Ole Miss Rebels looked old, tired, confused, and not up to the challenge.
As predicted, Tyler Bray used a beautiful autumn afternoon to cement his place as the Vols’ QB. All he did was display a cool, calm, almost a caution-to-the-wind demeanor, throwing 18-of-34 for 323 yards, 3 TDs, and no INTs.
Furthermore, he gave this football program a fresh coat of beautiful, orange paint. Yes, he made mistakes today, including many throws that were not nearly as accurate as desired, but he made some drop-dead, beautifully-paced throws to receivers who are beginning to believe that Christmas happens every Saturday.
After all, Santa Claus is now a tall, skinny dude from the southern San Joaquin Valley.