Game recap: Tennessee 42, Montana 16
Tennessee Stat Book
Tyler Bray erased any concern about his subpar scrimmage statistics, at least for one night. The sophomore carved up the Grizzlies early and often on the way to yet another big passing performance, one that included another memorable touchdown bomb to Justin Hunter.
Running backs C
Tauren Poole looked a bit shaky at times and unwilling to take chances, which was the opposite of his junior campaign. Marlin Lane showed some impressive moves, speed and toughness in his debut and could be a threat to steal carries from Poole as the Vols search for more consistency.
Wide receivers/tight ends B+
Da'Rick Rogers did put one sure catch on the ground. Other than that, it was hard to criticize a unit led by him and fellow sophomore Justin Hunter as they built on the early success with Bray from a year ago. The Vols didn't have many other options aside from those two.
Offensive line B-
The running game could have used a few more holes to exploit, and the Vols did give up a couple sacks. But at least one of the takedowns on Bray came after he had pumped twice, and the protection was generally much improved from a year ago.
Defensive line A-
The Vols will have to wait to pick up their first sack of the season next week, but that doesn't totally exemplify this unit's effort. A number of rotating players helped make Montana's running attack all but non-existent and quarterback Jordan Johnson faced consistent pressure.
Austin Johnson and Daryl Vereen provided senior leadership while Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson soaked up the first games of their college careers. Both facets looked very good at times in an otherwise sturdy, reliable performance.
Freshman Justin Coleman got his "Welcome to the SEC" moment out of the way on Jabin Sambrano's 80-yard touchdown catch. Senior Art Evans helped make up for it with an interception for a touchdown and plenty of players helped in limiting Montana's fast-pace, spread passing attack to minimal gains on short throws.
Special teams C
No major gaffes, but there were underwhelming performances across the board. Michael Palardy's kicks were short, his and Matt Darr's punts were, too, and Lane muffed a punt in the first half.
Perhaps in an attempt to establish a consistent running attack, UT didn't exploit Montana's weak pass defense as much as it probably could have in the first half. Otherwise, Derek Dooley was able to see what he had from a variety of players, including a number of true freshmen, who played early and often.
There were plenty of good things in the season debut, but as expected with all the youth, they were balanced out with some bobbles — most of which were fumbles. But the Vols were never seriously threatened and can turn their attention to stiffer competition and, perhaps, better weather.