Dave Hooker's post-game audio
- Stephens delivers long touchdown
- Report card: Tennessee vs. Northern Illinois
- Defense carries weight again
- Stephens shows teammates he can get it done
- Hamilton suggested change at QB
- Huskies left it all on the field, Kill says
- Adams: QB switch does not change ailing offense
- Watching with Ward: The Game Day blog
Tennessee Stat Book
Northern Illinois Huskies
The decision Friday to start Nick Stephens at quarterback had a far greater impact on Tennessee's football program than just helping a struggling offense.
UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said he believed that decision had a positive impact on fan turnout Saturday for UT's 13-9 win over Northern Illinois.
"I don't think there is any doubt," Hamilton said. "I thought there would be some energy from the crowd's standpoint depending on how the announcement went."
Hamilton said he discussed the potential impact of Stephens starting and attendance with UT coach Phillip Fulmer last week.
UT opened up a quarterback competition last Sunday between Stephens and junior Jonathan Crompton, who started UT's first four games of the season.
Hamilton said he was unsure if the conversation had an effect on Fulmer's decision, adding that he believed Fulmer had already made his decision.
"Phillip and I have regular meetings and we were just kicking it around and talking about it," Hamilton said. "I just said I would encourage you that if you have a decision you ought to announce it in advance so the fans can know that."
Crompton had drawn the ire of UT fans following his recent struggles. Crompton finished last out of five choices and received 2 percent of the vote in a poll on govolsxtra.com asking who should start at quarterback against Northern Illinois.
The crowd - or lack thereof - was part of another lackluster UT win this season.
The announced attendance Saturday was 99,539. That is based on tickets sold and stadium personnel, not actual fans in attendance.
There were plenty of empty seats in the upper deck and a significant amount in the lower bowl.
The upper deck of the student section was roughly 50 percent full. The lower student sections also were noticeably short of capacity for much of the game.
Saturday's crowd was estimated by several media members to be approximately 80,000 to 85,000, about the same as when UT hosted UAB on Sept. 13.
Hamilton said he was pleased with the turnout.
"The crowd had great energy," he said. "This is still Tennessee football."
Hamilton and much of the media disagreed with the crowd size for the UAB game. Hamilton said following the game that the crowd was close to capacity.
"We don't know because we don't have turnstiles," Hamilton said. "It's all a judgment call."
Hamilton said concession sales supported his claim. He said UT's concession sales were the third highest in two seasons.
Ends Continue: After failing to record a sack from a defensive end in UT's first three games, that group has recorded three sacks in their last two games.
Junior Wes Brown recorded his first solo sack of his career. Brown had half a sack last season.
Defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell said facing pocket passers has helped.
"We were able to lay our ears back and not worry about the contain element," Caldwell said.
Sophomores Ben Martin and Chris Walker recorded sacks last week against Auburn. How close is the group to being dominant?
"We're really, really close," Walker said.
Junior college transfer Gerald Williams batted down a pass. He also had two tackles last week in limited time.
"I want to get him more and more (in the rotation) everyday," Caldwell said. "We'll figure out a good rotation."
Injury Report: Offensive lineman Vladimir Richard did not dress for the game. He has been slow to recover from a sore knee.
Junior Jeff Cottam only played a handful of snaps. Cottam returned from back surgery earlier this week. He was supposed to play 20 snaps.
Boos Are Back: Fans booed early in the second quarter when UT decided not to go for it on fourth down at their own 45. Fans also booed when UT took a knee to run out the clock with 31 seconds before halftime.