Tennessee Stat Book
Once Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has the football, don't blink. Amazing things are about to happen.
But getting that ball to Patterson has proved much more difficult than it sounds.
The Vols have used him on handoffs and end-arounds, kickoff and punt returns. But opportunities for Patterson to catch passes have been scarce.
Then Saturday happened.
Facing a beleaguered Troy defense in a matchup that turned into a video-game-style offensive shootout, Patterson made up for lost time, displaying all those pent-up highlight-reel moves in one afternoon.
Patterson finished with 219 receiving yards, the fourth-most by any Tennessee player in a single game in the Vols' best offensive day in their history.
"I guess it's just instinct," said Patterson, who has been consistently amused by questions about his ability to make defenders miss. "I don't want anyone to tackle me, so I just try to get off the tackle and get to the end zone. Just going back and looking at (the highlights) put a big smile on my face."
The Vols (4-5, 0-5 SEC) finish the season with three consecutive SEC opponents, starting with Missouri (4-5, 1-5) on Saturday (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.) at Neyland Stadium.
Patterson's career in major college football is only nine games old. If he decides to go pro after this season, it might not last much longer. So he views the early weeks of the season as if they were years ago. For him, they were.
"I think I've improved a lot," Patterson said. When I go back and watch film from the first couple weeks (compared to) watching now, it's a big change just in running my routes and getting down field and getting open."
Coaches have long professed an eagerness to get Patterson more involved in the offense, but it hasn't always worked. In the five games before his outburst against Troy, Patterson caught only 10 passes for 127 yards.
In fact, since he burst onto the scene with a 67-yard touchdown run and a 41-yard catch against North Carolina State in the opener, Patterson's numbers had been fairly ordinary.
But Patterson said he never got frustrated.
"Not at all," he said. "We have receivers like Justin (Hunter), Zach (Rogers), and everybody out there, just getting their touches. To get frustrated means you're being selfish, and I'm not a selfish person."
Patterson was so worn out by
some of his zigs and zags against Troy that he missed the start of the third quarter while he was given fluids through an IV.
"I think I maximize everything," Patterson said. "Doing all that cutting and stuff just ran me out of gas."
Will he have enough gas left in the tank for an encore this week against Missouri? Running back Marlin Lane said Patterson is difficult to stop. The trick, as always, is getting him the ball.
"I think he's probably one of the best open-field runners in college football," Lane said. "If someone tries to tackle him one-on-one, I don't think it's going to happen. I saw Saturday that 11 people can't tackle him."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.