Tennessee Stat Book
Tennessee defensive back Naz Oliver had his first career tackle on Saturday against Kentucky.
Even more impressive: He also played his first snap.
The New Jersey native has had an injury-riddled career. After redshirting in 2009, he missed 2010 with an ACL injury and 2011 after an injury to his wrist.
He's been healthy in 2012. He just hasn't played.
But after Derek Dooley was fired, Oliver began tweeting that his opportunity would finally come. And on Saturday, it did, as Oliver registered a tackle and a pass breakup.
Other Vols making their debuts were junior Deanthonie Summerhill, who made two tackles on special teams, defensive back Max Arnold and offensive linemen Brock Collier and Jacob Gilliam.nTennessee offensive coordinator and interim head coach Jim Chaney stayed at Tennessee after Lane Kiffin left for Southern California. He said he'd love to stay in Knoxville again, but that decision will be up to the next coach.
"The gentleman that they hire, that's his job to make those decisions," Chaney said.nChaney said the coaching staff would focus on making sure current players finish strong academically. He said they would hit the recruiting trail "with Tennessee orange showing" until a permanent coach is hired.nKentucky coach Joker Phillips, who coached his final game after being fired earlier in this month, said he would "come back and haunt" players if they didn't wrap up the semester academically. Otherwise, he was ready to move out.
"My office is emptied. I have keys to turn in, and we're done," Phillips said. "It's time to go."nFormer Tennessee quarterback and outgoing U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler was honored as the Vols' legend of the game.
Shuler had more than 4,000 yards passing in his career and was the SEC player of the year and Heisman Trophy runner-up after the 1993 season.
Shuler announced he would not seek re-election to Congress in 2012.nKentucky freshman fullback D.J. Warren's first career touchdown reception was the Wildcats' first score of the day. Warren was a former standout at Alcoa High School, which has become a pipeline of sorts to Kentucky.
Randall Cobb is the most notable Alcoa graduate to wear Kentucky blue.
Warren is joined by tight end Tyler Robinson and defensive back Cody Lewis on the current Kentucky roster.nSenior tight end Mychal Rivera crossed 1,000 career receiving yards in his final game as a Vol. He caught a team-high five passes for 64 yards Saturday, ending his career with a reception in 18 consecutive games.
Rivera had 562 yards, breaking the record for a Tennessee tight end set by Jason Witten in 2002.nNational League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, a former Tennessee baseball player, was honored in first quarter. Dickey is the brother-in-law of senior football player Ben Bartholomew.nReceiver Cordarrelle Patterson set Tennessee's single-season record for all-purpose yards, breaking the record held by Reggie Cobb. Patterson finished the year with 778 yards receiving, 308 rushing, 671 on kickoff returns and 101 on punt returns.nLinebacker A.J. Johnson picked up his sixth rushing touchdown out of the "Beast" package that Tennessee employs in short-yardage situations.
That gives Johnson the unlikely distinction of being Tennessee's leading scorer on the ground, carrying 11 times in 11 games.
Johnson was credited with double-digit tackles for the 10th game in a row.nMichael Palardy's extra point attempt in the second quarter was blocked. It was the fifth missed PAT by Tennessee this season.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.