Phase III of Neyland Stadium renovations completed
Tennessee Stat Book
1. First Look: What does a Derek Dooley team look like? Fans and media are largely in the dark, so tightly has the new coach kept the Vols under wraps. Will they be physical? Will they blitz? Will they go five-wide? Will they line up in the single-wing? Will they wear checkerboard jerseys? So many questions.
2. Avoid the ‘Oh, No!’ Moment: This is Tennessee’s first game against a non-FBS opponent since The Citadel in 1983. In an apparent mismatch, an early turnover or a breakdown in the kicking game can skew the script. The Vols don’t want to hand UT Martin any gifts that level the playing field. Remember Wyoming.
3. Chip Off the Old Block? Matt Simms’ debut at quarterback will be closely watched. He doesn’t have much of a track record, but he does have some serious genes. UT fans hope he plays like dad, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Phil Simms. Or even big brother, Chris, who had a nice career at Texas.
4. Trench Warfare: The Vols are suspect nowhere more than the offensive and defensive lines. Five new starters debut in the offensive line and the defensive tackle rotation is a crapshoot. The key players lack experience more than talent and should be able to overpower UT Martin. If they can’t, it’s an ominous sign.
5. Crowd Count: The biggest crowd the Skyhawks have played before was 85,355 at Auburn in 2008. Will Vol fans top that tonight? UT has been hawking ticket sales hard all summer, an indication the economy and the recent malaise of the program have cut into the turnstile. It’s not 1998 anymore.