Vols Mug Memphis Early for a 56-28 Win
Memphis must have read my pre-game post, because they obviously expected what I thought Tennessee would do – run baby run. I’m glad I have found a role to help the Vols – I play the red herring – for Memphis stacked the box much of the first half waiting for Montario Hardesty to run.
Instead, Tennessee went aerial and bombarded the Tigers for 300 passing yards in the first half alone on their way to a convincing Homecoming victory, setting them up for the critical final stretch run.
This is an aggressive coaching staff and the aggressiveness paid big dividends tonight. Memphis played the run and paid the price.
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It was all set up by field position. Bob Neyland and George Cafego would have been proud. Freshman David Oku returned the opening kickoff 69 yards to the Tiger 24. Six plays later it was Tennessee 7 Memphis 0. Then after Memphis went three-and-out, Tennessee got more good field position at the Vol 45. Seven players later, 14-0.
Once again, Tennessee gave themselves early opportunities and capitalized to get way ahead on the scoreboard. If there is one noticeable improvement throughout this season, it is being able to come out firing on all cylinders and immediately putting the opponent in a hole. Two consecutive weeks of coming out hot. Two consecutive wins.
In the first half, Tennessee had the ball 7 times, scoring 6 touchdowns. Tennessee 42 Memphis 7 at halftime. Montario Hardesty was promptly rested for the rest of the evening and Jonathan Crompton played only one series in the second half. A nice rest for both warriors. Well deserved.
Eric Berry. Teams have been throwing away from him most of the season. Makes it tough to break the all-time record for most yards gained on interception returns, doesn’t it? The NCAA record is 501 set by Terrell Buckley of Florida State. Needing only 12 yards before Saturday to tie the record, Berry got a pick, tried to find running room, but could only get 5 yards on the return. Bummer. I still think he’ll do it – probably with one of those 90-yard returns. Wouldn’t that be sweet!
Let’s give the game ball to senior QB Jonathan Crompton.
Crompton threw 21-for-27 for 331 yards and 5 TDs. He was relaxed, confident, fluid, and razor sharp. On fire from the get-go.
Funny how we’re getting past the shock of his transformation into more than just a decent quarterback. Now I think we’ve come to expect a solid performance from Jonathan every Saturday.
Three more Saturdays to go. Only three more chances for the senior QB to show even more improvement. I think we’ll see three more solid games.
Second Half – Memphis 21 Tennessee 14. Backups did not play well. Great teams have depth and reserves that execute. Is this team thin? Kiffin and Co. play their starters – kind of like a basketball team that plays 7 or 8 players only. Thus, is this a result of our seconds and thirds not getting playing time? Do they not get the playing time because we are pretty thin on the depth chart? A little of both?
I think Lane Kiffin answered my question during his post-game comments. When he talked about his squad’s depth, or lack thereof, and the poor play of the reserves, he immediately mentioned the need to go out and do some recruiting.
That spoke volumes.
This was the Vols’ first time this season for getting consecutive wins. It took awhile. But it goes to show how hard this game really is.
More on this game in a later post.
All times are Eastern. Visiting team listed first. Vols’ 2009 opponents in bold.
- South Carolina 16 Arkansas 33
- Tennessee Tech 0 Georgia 38
- Eastern Kentucky 12 Kentucky 37
- Furman 31 Auburn 63
- LSU 15 Alabama 24
- Washington 23 UCLA 24
- Troy 40 Western Kentucky 20
- Vanderbilt 3 Florida 27
- Northern Arizona 14 at Ole Miss 38
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