UT defeats UT Martin 50-0, Sept. 4, 2010
Tennessee Stat Book
Tennessee defensive end Chris Walker got what he wanted Saturday night, and it was a long time coming.
Walker, a senior, finally got a shutout as the Vols held UT Martin to three first downs in a 50-0 victory at Neyland Stadium.
"It means a lot," Walker said. "I told some of the guys that I wanted a goose-egg because I haven't had one since I've been here. It feels great to get one, just to get our confidence level up, knowing we can shut people out."
Another shutout won't be as likely next Saturday night when the Vols play host to Oregon, which beat New Mexico 72-0 Saturday.
That score reverberated in the Vols' postgame interview room.
"I mean, anytime you come out and don't let a team score, no matter who it is, it's going to be a confidence boost for you," Walker said, "but we know that Oregon has great players and is a lot faster than the team we played tonight. We know we'll have to be ready and that just comes with the week of preparation."
UT quickly established its dominance on defense - even when the Skyhawks were working with a short field.
The Skyhawks went three and out on their first possession, but got the ball back when Gerald Jones fumbled the punt and UT Martin's Kendal Harper recovered at the Vols' 36.
Running back Jason McNair, nephew of late Titans quarterback Steve McNair, gained 3 yards on two rushing plays. Derek Carr threw incomplete on third down after being pressured by Walker.
On fourth-and-7, Carr was hurried by linebacker Nick Reveiz, and converted wide receiver/right cornerback Marsalis Teague was credited with the pass breakup.
"The defense was flying around out there pretty good," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "(UT Martin) struggled to block us. I've been there when it's a tough mismatch up front."
The Skyhawks didn't get a first down until their fifth possession.
Carr, facing third-and-7 from his 9, threw across the middle of the field - over the outstretched hands of receiver Maurice Taylor - and into the hands of Chris Thompson for a 30-yard gain.
The drive stalled on third-and-12 when Carr completed a short pass to Taylor, who was tackled immediately by senior linebacker LaMarcus Thompson in perhaps the biggest hit of the first half.
UT Martin had 51 total yards at halftime - 10 rushing yards and 41 yards on Carr's 3-of-11 passing.
"I wasn't surprised," defensive tackle Victor Thomas said of the defensive show. "We've been working on this all camp and we just took care of our business and handled our technique."
The Skyhawks finished with 56 rushing yards and averaged 1.9 yards per carry.
Carr was 9-of-22 passing for 66 yards with two interceptions.
Sophomore strong safety Prentiss Waggner, who led the Vols in tackles with six (four solo, two assists), returned an interception 54 yards for a 50-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Even when the Vols went deep into their defensive bench in the fourth quarter, they didn't give up the big play.
"We made a big statement," Thomas said, "and that was we're going to be fine just as long as we take care of our business and stay healthy, we'll be good."
Perhaps the defense still has something to show Oregon.
"I think we were really aggressive," Walker said, "especially for our first game, but we definitely have a lot more things we can pull out on people. We just wanted to come out and have a good showing and come out and run to the football and establish Tennessee defense today."
Dave Link is a freelance contributor.