Tennessee Stat Book
It was a feel-good Saturday for Tennessee's offense.
Tyler Bray threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns and completed 82.9 percent of his passes (34-of-41, no interceptions).
Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers each had 10 catches — Hunter for 156 yards and one touchdown, and Rogers for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
And senior running back Tauren Poole rushed for 101 yards on 21 carries as the Vols beat Cincinnati 45-23 in front of 94,207 fans at Neyland Stadium.
It all started with Bray, who completed his first eight passes.
"It's not rocket science," Vols coach Derek Dooley said. "(Bray) can throw it and those two big guys can go down the field and catch it, so that's what we're going to do until they stop it, and when they stop it, we've got to find other things. He's played two really good games."
UT (2-0) needs another one of those next Saturday at Florida.
How does Bray prepare for The Swamp in Gainesville? Just enjoy the moment.
"When we're out there having fun, kind of backyard football, we're a great football team," Bray said.
That's what the Vols looked like offensively for most of Saturday — with a little help from Cincinnati, which returned all 11 starters from the 2010 defense that ranked last in the Big East Conference in passing efficiency defense and scoring defense.
The Bearcats allowed 277 total yards in last week's 72-10 victory against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Austin Peay.
Bray quickly found a lot of holes in the Bearcats' secondary that Austin Peay couldn't find.
Bray's first TD pass was a 33-yarder to Hunter, who beat a defender down the left sideline.
Rogers didn't have to beat anybody for his first touchdown catch, an 11-yarder. He was wide open in the end zone, and wasn't sure why.
"I really don't have a clue," Rogers said. "It was supposed to be Justin's touchdown, but I really kind of slipped open in the back door."
Late in the half, Bray threw a pass between safeties Wesley Richardson and Drew Frey but threw slightly behind Rogers, who reached back and caught the pass for a 15-yard touchdown and 28-14 lead.
Talk about threading the needle.
"I guess he threw it in there perfect," Rogers said. "That's all I can ask."
Zach Rogers made a sliding touchdown catch from Bray that covered 16 yards and gave the Vols a 42-17 lead late in the third quarter.
Bray's 405 passing yards mark was the first time a UT quarterback has surpassed the 400-yard mark since Peyton Manning threw for 523 yards against Kentucky in 1997.
His completion percentage also was a UT single-game record (for a QB with 30 or more completions). It broke Manning's record of 77.5 percent set against Georgia in 1997 when he was 31-of-40.
"As an offense, we were just in that zone tonight," Bray said. "If you could have been in the huddle, you could of seen in everyone's eyes, they were just locked in and ready to go."
It showed in a number of ways, including the rushing game.
"Tauren I thought really ran well, averaged 4.8 (yards) a carry, over 100 yards," Dooley said. "It's a solid game. Marlin (Lane) put the ball on the ground and Rajion (Neal) put the ball on the ground, so we still don't have what we need behind him."
UT's 34 first downs was one short of the program record set against Georgia in 1997.
The Vols scored touchdowns on five of six trips to the red zone. They settled for a field goal on their last drive when they didn't need a touchdown.
"We were really five out of five touchdowns (in the red zone)," Dooley said. "Our goal's 67 percent touchdowns, so we hit that. It's good."
Dave Link is a freelance contributor.