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Tennessee Beats NC State 35-21: 10 Things We Learned About The Vols in Atlanta

Tyler Bray

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.

Look, I know it’s early, but before it’s all said and done with, CP might wind up making Da’Rick Rogers look like Benjie Shuler (pre bankruptcy). And Clay Travis is right. Patterson needs a nickname.

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.

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facebook comments:

  • Shane

    They’ve been referring to him as CP, but I guess you’re saying that he needs a real nickname. Too bad ” Playmaker ” is already taken because that’s what he is, plain and simple. You can’t teach athleticism.
    Tyler Bray can throw the deep ball with finesse, but we can’t make a living on that, you’re right, we need to establish a North-South run game.
    There were glaring inconsistencies on offense, defense, and special teams. Hopefully our mistakes are fixable and they can correct them in the Georgia State game moving forward going into the FLA game.

    • admin

      no doubt the coaches have been going w/ CP, but he needs something more. he’s a FREAK.

  • markus

    NC State proved to be a quality opponent, never giving up and that made it exceptionally difficult to put them away. Well put that only Bray can stop Bray…once we work out a few kinks next week that mantra could apply to the entire team!

    • admin

      true dat, brother. and, yes, i was definitely encouraged.