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Tennessee Beats NC State 35-21: 10 Things We Learned About The Vols in Atlanta
- Updated: September 1, 2012
Tennessee got the 2012 campaign off to a good start by defeating NC State 35 to 21 last night in Atlanta. And in so doing, we learned a few things about the Vols. Here are 10 of them.
1. CP84 might even be better than advertised
As was so often the case with the player he’s replacing, my hopes for Cordarrelle Patterson coming into last night’s game were, um, incredibly high. Yet he somehow managed to surpass them.
2. Tyler Bray is Tyler Bray
Tyler Bray delivered an early-season reminder of his greatness, perhaps to counter the preseason reminder of his not-so-greatness. You get the sense that the only person who can stop Tyler Bray is Tyler Bray. And for the most part he managed to stay out of his own way. But the fumble at the end of the first half (and it was a fumble, y’all) served effective notice that the gifted signal caller does, indeed, have two sides to him.
One is future NFL baller while the other seems closer to devoted Nickelback enthusiast. Or 3 Doors Down, maybe.
3. #11 looked just fine
More of a factor in the second half, Justin Hunter, overall, looked just fine. That said, he did have a couple of uncharacteristic drops. The one on a fourth-down play and another on a longer ball that hit him perfectly in stride jump to mind.
But the most important thing was for Hunter was to compete in a real game against a quality opponent for the first time in nearly a year. To make a few plays and take a few hits. So, all in all, it was mission accomplished #11.
4. UT Linebackers off to a solid start
A lot of preseason buzz accompanied UT’s linebacking core and the quartet of Curt Maggitt, Jacques Smith, Herman Lathers and A. J. Johnson did not disappoint. Each played well and Maggitt’s forced fumble resulted in a safety that helped break open what had been a competitive game.
5. Running backs run far and, um, WIDE
Yes, the tandem of Marlin Lane and Rajion Neal had a respectable night with their combined 128 yards on 31 carries. Yes, Tennessee rushed for nearly 200 yards. But 112 of them came on just two plays and Tennessee never really ran the ball with authority.
They certainly failed to prove that they have what it takes to pound the ball inside, instead opting to bounce outside time and time again to mediocre results. And that won’t cut against SEC defenses.
6. Somewhat erratic secondary play ends on excellent note
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Well, not necessarily the worst, but Tennessee’s secondary looked awfully shaky at the start of the game. Mike Glennon was picking the Vols apart at the seams and there appeared to be a few missed assignments which led to wide open receivers making easy grabs.
But once Sal Sunseri started dialing up a little pressure, things began to change as evidenced by Tennessee’s four interceptions, one apiece from Prentiss Waggner, Byron Moore, Eric Gordon and Marsalis Teague to end the game.
7. The Vols have big play capabilities
Tyler Bray had touchdown passes of 41 and 72 yards, Cordarrelle Patterson scored on a 67-yard end around and Marlin Lane added a 42 yard gallup that gave the Vols a first and goal at the Wolfpack 3-yard line.
Tennessee scored three times in span of 16 seconds at the end of the first quarter. Zach Roger’s 72-yard over-the-shoulder touchdown was immediately followed by a safety courtesy of the fumble Maggitt forced from a back-peddling Glennon, which, in turn was followed by CP’s long TD run on the first play after the ensuing free kick.
8. UT lacks a knock-out punch
Even so, the Vols never could quite put NC State out of its misery. At least not as soon as they should have. Following Lane’s 42-yard run, the Vols settled for a field goal to go up 32-14. But the Wolfpack would counter with a touchdown which put them within two scores with nearly 14 minutes to play.
Eric Gordon came up with Tennessee’s third interception of the night which should have been lights out. But Tennessee was unable to do anything on offense and quickly gave the ball right back which meant NC State was still within striking distance with seven minutes to play.
The Vols are going to have to brush up on their killer instinct if they’re going to make any noise in the SEC East.
9. Ding dong the witch is dead
The Vols finally put together a decent game in Atlanta, ending their 14-year drought and claiming their first W in the Georgia Dome since 1998. One can argue that UT’s fall from grace began with the then-#2-ranked Vols’ stunning collapse against LSU in the 2001 SEC Championship Game. Since that debacle, some of Tennessee’s most lopsided and embarrassing defeats have come in that building. (I’m looking at you, Maryland.)
So to say it was nice to get the victory in the ATL is an understatement.
10. The Vols are 1-0
A win against cupcake Georgia State puts the Vols one game away from their first 3-0 start since 2004. Of course, to do that, they’ll have to take care of business next week and register their first W against Florida since, that’s right, 2004.