Posted September 02, 2012

Tennessee rockets past NC State, but little learned about Volunteers

David Amerson, Derek Dooley, Justin Hunter, Mike Glennon, NC State Wolfpack, Tennessee Volunteers, Tyler Bray

Tyler Bray attempting a quarterback sneak went about how you’d imagine it would. (AP)

ATLANTA — One data point is almost worse than none, honestly. We’ve said all summer that we don’t know what to make of this Tennessee team, thanks to a 2011 season rendered almost entirely useless for data-collecting purposes by injuries. After seeing the Vols conquer North Carolina State 35-21, we still know practically nothing, and Derek Dooley will be the first to point that out. [RECAP | BOX SCORE]

“It’s one game,” Dooley said. “All that matters is we’re 1-0, and we have to clean up a ton of mistakes.”

That to-fix list surprisingly contains no interceptions from junior quarterback Tyler Bray, who displayed some wonky mechanics at times but played a fairly clean game with big results, completing 27-of-41 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns. What could have been a third touchdown, depending on where you were sitting in the stadium when Bray attempted a poorly considered quarterback sneak, was ruled a fumble in the waning seconds of the first half.

Tennessee did put one looming question to rest Friday night, in the matter of Da’Rick Rogers’ recently vacated Z receiver position. Juco import Cordarrelle Patterson blew past All-America corner David Amerson for the game’s first score three-and-a-half minutes into the game and added another touchdown on a 67-yard end-around in the first quarter’s final minute. Patterson had six catches for 93 yards and 72 yards on the ground. Dooley, sticking to this one data point, assessed Patterson thusly: “He’s big and fast and can catch the ball.” We cannot argue with his logic. Justin Hunter, in his first game since tearing his ACL in Week 3 last season, had nine catches for 73 yards.

Amerson would be outmatched again in the first quarter, losing out to Zach Rogers on a 72-yard touchdown catch that set off a 16-point Tennessee scoring burst (touchdown, safety, Patterson’s scoring run) to end the period. Asked after the game if he felt he’d been targeted, the 2011 national interceptions leader agreed, “I guess you could say so.”

Bray throwing a pick-free game was about as surprising as NC State quarterback Mike Glennon throwing four. Glennon still managed a high output, going 27-of-46 for 287 yards and one score, and helped receiver Quintin Payton to a career night of 129 yards on four receptions. To the delight of anyone who has ever watched Glennon run, he also scrambled for gains of 11 and 14 yards. Glennon is not a creature made for running, but in the context of the night (four interceptions to that Tennessee secondary?) it made a bizarre, almost comforting sort of sense.

On the matter of the unproven ground attacks of both squads: The Vols’ leading rusher in Week 1 in terms of yardage didn’t even make the two-deep out of training camp. No. 3 tailback Marlin Lane carried nine times for 75 yards, including a long breakaway of 42 yards. Starter Rajion Neal did most of the short-yardage heavy lifting, carrying 22 times for 53 yards and a score. Mustafa Greene, not seen in game action for the Wolfpack since 2010, carried 11 times for 53 yards, followed closely by Tony Creecy, with 10 carries for 48 yards and a score.

You might have heard about a moment of unplanned off-field action during the game. The fan who fell from the third level of the Georgia Dome to the second, injuring another fan in the process, did so over to our right, but we didn’t see it happen. No report at this time on the condition of either patron, but staffers at the Dome did indicate alcohol appeared to play a role in the accident.

[UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that the falling patron, Isaac Grubb of Lenoir City, Tennessee, was pronounced dead Friday night. The fan injured by Grubb's fall was treated and released.]


Unlike the rest of the fans, Holly, I get where you're coming from given the success of NC State's secondary last year and the lack of interceptions/mistakes in the first game of the season (when one might expect some rust, especially given the WR change with the loss of Rogers).  On the other hand, I was a little surprised not to see any mention of the interesting angle regarding UT's defensive performance with the change to the 3-4 and NC State's mixed success on offense.  Would be interested in your take on how they'll fare as they continue to get comfortable with Sunseri's new system against SEC offenses over the course of the season.  

SIHolly moderator 1 Like

 @volman30 Still mulling it over. I'd like to go back and watch it again this week if I get the time, but I will offer the following EXTREMELY UNSCIENTIFIC takes: They seem faster in the front seven than they did under Wilcox, who I thought was pretty stodgy. Brad Shepard has some good points in his piece (, if you're looking for a longer breakdown.


Short version: Good pressure on the run, pleased with the linebackers but obviously worried about Lathers' health, again. The secondary's what I'm really interested to watch develop, since it's an area where Sunseri's inexperienced in coaching compared to his time with DLs and LBs. 


Why di you mention twice the surprise of Bray not throwing interceptions? If you knew his stats you would know he has only thrown 1 pick to every 3 TD's. Since he threw 2 TD's Friday night it is not surprising he had a clean game. This further shows your bias against the Vols.

SIHolly moderator

 @Dale Largely because it was his first healthy appearance on the field since the first half of Georgia last year and he'd just had one of his favorite targets taken away. He was bound to look rusty, only he didn't, hence, surprise. Try to relax, sunshine. 

This comment has been deleted

wjwarren4269 2 Like

Editing the post to remove the flippant remark about the fan who fell does not erase the fact that Holly, in her official role at SI, made fun of a person who died.

SIHolly moderator


Hi there. Expressing a lack of surprise at reports that alcohol was involved in the incident is not exactly "making fun." At the time this post was originally written all the information we had was that a guy had gone over the rail mid-fist pump. He was reportedly awake when taken to the hospital, so the story was naturally more light in tone at that point than what you see now. When we received the news that he had died, that language was removed, because we are not monsters. Thanks, and have a great day.

Poopa 1 Like

 @SIHolly  @wjwarren4269 You should stand behind your work and leave it up there.  No need to be ashamed of it.  Seriously.  Put it back up.  Light in tone.  That's a nice spin on it.  

SIHolly moderator

 @Poopa  Not much to put back up. It was one sentence. They get inserted and removed from posts here pretty much every day as news flows. The post hasn't been greatly altered. But the story changed drastically between the time we first  wrote this post and now. Did you hear about the guy who fell through a skylight and five stories down while watching the Boston Marathon last year? He's a friend of ours. People back home freaked out about it, then he spent one night in the hospital and came out fine. It was grim until it wasn't. This one wasn't grim, until it was. Stories can shift for the better, but this was obviously not one of those times. And again, expressing a lack of surprise at reports that alcohol led to an accident at a sporting event does not exactly constitute a honking clown horn.

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BrianAppleton 1 Like

Whoever wrote this article should a. Take article down off the web, and b. issue a public apology in the AJC, and KNS to the family of the fan who died, and c.issue a public apology to both institutions and their fans.

bsgroup 1 Like

What a nasty article in every way.  Made me sick.  Who on earth would be so crass and cynical about such a horrific accident.?  I am so sorry I read this.