Tennessee Stat Book
NASHVILLE — On his way to an apparent touchdown Saturday at Vanderbilt, Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson turned his body toward a defender and backpedaled his way into the end zone.
Two nearby officials quickly dug into their belts and flung flags in Patterson's direction, marking the second week in a row that Patterson has drawn an unsportsmanlike penalty while dashing to a touchdown.
Last week against Missouri, Patterson's touchdown was called back, but Tennessee scored anyway when Tyler Bray hit Mychal Rivera in the back of the end zone. On Saturday, Tennessee was flagged for an illegal man downfield, so the penalty on Patterson was declined.
Even so, the two costly mental gaffes could have cost the Vols 14 points and raise questions about Patterson's maturity that NFL teams are certain to explore during draft evaluations this spring.
Patterson still turned in some of his usual highlight-reel plays, but he also seemed to run the wrong route on a handful of plays. When Bray threw an interception in the third quarter, Patterson appeared to be running in the wrong direction. He also may have drawn the ire of coaches when he failed to chase the play after the interception.
n After his punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Patterson has now scored four different ways — by punt return, kickoff return, receiving and rushing.
He's the first player in the Bowl Subdivision to achieve that feat since 2008.
n Defensive back Eric Gordon missed Saturday's game with a knee injury, further weakening Tennessee's fragile secondary.
Freshman cornerbacks Daniel Gray (illness) and Deion Bonner (suspension) also missed the game, leaving extended opportunities for junior Jaron Toney and senior Marsalis Teague.
Running back Devrin Young did not travel with the team for "personal reasons," Tennessee said.
n The seven Tennessee players who hail from the Nashville area served as captains for the Vols. Fullback Ben Bartholomew, defensive back Rod Wilks, offensive linemen Alex Bullard, James Stone and Antonio "Tiny" Richardson and receivers Zach Rogers and Jacob Carter were at midfield before the game for the coin flip.
n Vanderbilt became the fourth SEC program to play on an artificial surface when it switched to synthetic grass this summer. The Commodores had played on grass since the 1999 season. Before that, they played on an old-fashioned AstroTurf.
Missouri, Ole Miss and Arkansas also play on artificial turf.
n For the second week in a row, Tennessee's defense played well in the first half before quickly reverting to form after halftime.
The Vols allowed a 77-yard run on the first play of the third quarter last week against Missouri. On Saturday, Vanderbilt had runs of 29 yards and 47 yards (76 total) on its first drive of the third quarter.
Tennessee started the game ominously, allowing a 72-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. But Vandy managed only 80 yards on the next 30 snaps of the first half.
n Tennessee attempted a fake punt in the third quarter Saturday. Punter Michael Palardy got off a poor throw, but even a completed pass might have been short of a first down.
Vandy took over at Tennessee's 19, making it a risky gamble for Tennessee coach Derek Dooley. But Byron Moore's interception in the end zone kept the Commodores from scoring.
The last time the Vols attempted a fake punt was Oct. 22, 2011, at Alabama.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.