It is the Tennessee Volunteers that are running an up-tempo, no-huddle, blitzkrieg offense instead of the Florida Gators whose offensive strategy is to slow the tempo down and milk the play clock as much as possible.
A shift in the balance of offensive weapons.
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.
Recent events have transpired to make this upcoming matchup with the South Carolina Gamecocks a very interesting affair.
Those events surrounding the Vols have been well-chronicled here. Tyler Bray goes down with an injury. Matt Simms in Year 2 is the Matt Simms of Year 1, and is thusly benched. Enter a native South Carolinian, true freshman Justin Worley – whose redshirt was burned during the final moments of Bama’s torching of Tennessee – who will make his first collegiate start Saturday night. There has also been the Vols’ habit of imploding in the second half against SEC opponents. And the slow, ponderous Vol secondary has made running downfield routes by our opponents ever more popular.
NOTE: After this article was written and posted, Derek Dooley announced that Justin Worley will be the Vols’ starting QB this Saturday against South Carolina. That announcement does not affect the views presented here; it enhances them.
The thankful end of Saturday night’s game at Alabama may come to be remembered as the beginning of the career of the next great Tennessee Vol quarterback.
I’m surely a heretical figure within the Vol Nation by saying that I’ve yet to be sold (completely) on Tyler Bray as a true big-time college QB. He’s not one.
Now, this all depends on one’s definition of “big-time.” I have my own. Young Tyler hasn’t met mine. Perhaps he’s met yours.
Perhaps he will become one. But that broaches into the territory of fortune tellers and sooth sayers.
It took Alabama 34 minutes to score their first TD of the evening, thanks to an aggressive and effective first-half Tennessee defense, not to mention a punter’s passing prowess. But for the fourth time this season against an SEC opponent, the Vols got burned early in the second half to lose hard-fought momentum.
Stymied by two big LSU Tiger plays in the first half, the Vols were then pummeled into submission in the second half. It was perhaps the most physical beat-down the Vols have ever suffered in the long history of Neyland Stadium.