Tennessee freshman cornerback Daniel Gray had a bumpy debut Saturday against Troy in his first career start. By the second quarter, senior Prentiss Waggner had returned to his normal role as right cornerback.
Gray was called for pass interference, flagged for a personal foul and beat for a 51-yard touchdown in man coverage — all in about a quarter-and-a-half of play.
Coaches gave Gray another chance in the second half, using both the youngster and the veteran with little effect.
"We started Dan. And then Dan struggled. That's why we put Prentiss back in. And then he struggled," coach Derek Dooley said.
Running back Rajion Neal was eased back into action as he recovers from a bum ankle. While Marlin Lane got the bulk of the carries, Neal carried seven times for 32 yards and caught a 23-yard touchdown pass.
Offensive guard Zach Fulton also returned to action after missing last week with an ankle injury.
Sophomore running back Devrin Young, who is one of two kick returners and the primary punt returner, missed the game after suffering a concussion this week in practice. Justin Hunter handled punts, while Alton "Pig" Howard took over Young's role on kicks.
"They did a good job," Dooley said.
Freshman cornerback Deion Bonner, who was listed as a suspect in a campus cellphone theft by UT police, dressed out but did not play. Bonner has not been charged or arrested in the case. The athletic department has had no comment on his situation.
Hunter was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty in the fourth quarter as he ran into the end zone for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Although the 15 yards turned out to be meaningless, the play could have been costly if Michael Palardy had missed the extra point that tied the game at 48.
Hunter said he was told that officials thought he was blowing a kiss. Hunter said he was removing his mouthpiece.
Entering the game, Troy coach Larry Blakeney was 68-4 when his team scored at least 35 points. He said the 1,439 combined total yards on Saturday were evidence of a game that has changed dramatically in his 22-year career.
"This game is headed in a new direction," Blakeney said. "It's a lot different from what it was in years past."
Many of Blakeney's criticisms of his team will sound familiar to Vols fans.
"We didn't have a lot of calls," Blakeney said. "We kept it pretty simple and we still messed up stuff."
While Tennessee was struggling against Troy, the Vols' next opponent was hanging tough with No. 8 Florida.
Missouri (4-5, 1-5 SEC) lost to the Gators 14-7 after a last-gasp comeback effort fell short. Missouri plays Tennessee (4-5, 0-5) on Saturday at Neyland Stadium (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.)
The 103 points scored were the most scored in a Tennessee game since the Vols beat American University 104-0 on Oct. 7, 1905.
American University disbanded its football team in 1941.
Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, a Knoxville native and Austin-East high School graduate who played at UT (1981-1984), was honored as the Vol Legend of the Game ... A Daring Affair, a Tennessee walking horse, circled the field before the game, part of a long-standing Tennessee tradition ... Smokey X made his Neyland Stadium debut after the first quarter. He officially will take over for the retiring Smokey IX in 2013.