Tennessee-N.C. State Report Card

Tennessee running back Rajion Neal (20) celebrates after a touchdown in the third quarter during the Chick-Fil-A Kick Off Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL STAFF)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee running back Rajion Neal (20) celebrates after a touchdown in the third quarter during the Chick-Fil-A Kick Off Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL STAFF)

Recap: Tennessee plays N.C. State

Quarterbacks A

If this game is a template for Tyler Bray's season, Tennessee's in good shape. Bray wasn't perfect, but he made big throws, involved several receivers, evaded sacks and avoided interceptions. He challenged one of the nation's best cornerbacks and won by a lot.

Running Backs B

Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane combined for a solid game (31 carries, 128 yards), fighting for tough gains inside while protecting the football. The Vols rejuvenated running game is still in its infancy, and it's a long road back to respectability, but Friday night was a good start.

Wide receivers/tight ends A

Cordarrelle Patterson's debut laid to rest any concerns that it might take him awhile to adjust to this level of football. The Patterson-Justin Hunter tandem combined for 15 catches and 166 yards, and reserves Zach Rogers and Jacob Carter also provided welcomed contributions.

Offensive line B

The line gave Bray plenty of time to throw. Bray took so few hits that he rarely had to leave his feet or get his jersey dirty. The line also opened up holes in the running game, including a huge gap that Lane shot through for a 42-yard run.

DEFENSIVE LINE B

UT's line forced N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon to move in the pocket and disrupted the NFL prospect. Part of the byproduct of that pressure was four interceptions hauled in by the Vols' secondary. The Wolfpack was never able to establish its ground game, rushing for just 119 yards on 32 carries. Defensive end Maurice Couch finished with five tackles, including one for a loss, while neither Daniel McCullers nor Darrington Sentimore registered a tackle.

LINEBACKERS B

UT's four play-making linebackers did exactly that. Jacques Smith, Curt Maggitt, A.J. Johnson and Herman Lathers all posted at least four tackles. Maggitt forced a fumble resulting in a N.C. State safety to give UT a 15-7 lead in the waning moments of the first quarter. The group was disruptive and productive. The downside of the night was seeing Lathers leave with an injured shoulder.

SECONDARY B+

After allowing 145 passing yards in the first quarter, most coming on wide-open passes down the middle, the Vols' defensive backfield plugged the holes. Free safety Brian Randolph and cornerbacks Marsalis Teague, Prentiss Waggner and Eric Gordon all pulled in game-changing interceptions. UT, as a team, posted just nine picks last season. N.C. State gained 288 yards through the air, but with a talent like Glennon, that's expected. Brent Brewer delivered a ferocious hit on Josh Stanley to start the second quarter.

SPECIAL TEAMS B

Other than Michael Palardy blowing the point-after touchdown on Patterson's first-quarter score, the unit was relatively solid. Punter Matt Darr shanked two sub-30-yard punts, but also put two inside the 20 and ended with a 38.6-yard average on five attempts. Gordon, a gunner on punt coverage, bulldozed back-peddling N.C. State return man Rashard Smith thanks to one booming, airy punt by Darr. Kick returner Devrin Young got only two chances to bring a return out and broke one for 35 yards. Palardy hit a pair of field goals (20 and 34 yards) and consistently put his kickoff into the N.C. State end zone.

Coaching A

The Vols didn't let distractions mar an otherwise solid camp, and they didn't let adversity affect their performance on Friday. There should be plenty of fodder for film review, particularly on defense, but overall the Vols looked well-prepared and ready to play.

Overall A

It's only one game, but the Vols' offense looks like it will be formidable. The defense is still unpolished, but there's plenty of promise, especially up front. Opening games tend to elevate or crush early expectations. After this game, optimism for 2012 likely will be sky-high.

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Comments » 171

BigOrangeFreak writes:

This team deserves an A for tonight's effort. Let's keep this up and make some noise in what looks to be a wide open East.

eb502us#225637 writes:

Agree with everything except special teams. Sure Palardy made his field goals but still CAN'T put the ball in the end zone on kickoffs. Did the writer not see his last kickoff? Darr is still a sub-par punter and the botched snapp on the first TD brought back bad memories from last season.

They deserve a C at best.

lstbodeanvol writes:

GO VOLS..GO COACH DOOLEY & STAFF KEEP WORKING AND MORE GOOD WILL COME TO THIS GROUP !!!!!!

oldster writes:

Justin Hunter was acting strange. He also dropped two passes - one on fourth down that would have been a first down. I hope this was an abberation (he also showed a disturbing tendancy to run backwards after catching the ball). Based on this game, Marlin Lane should be the starter. Neal and Young do not run the holes often enough - they try to bounce everything outside. Lane runs in the lane, if you will. Our line, while better on the run than last year (it would be hard to be worse) they still have trouble rooting people out when the defense knows its coming (e.g. he play on which Bray fumbled). I am also concerned about the couple of plays where the defense got sealed inside on toss sweeps. HOWEVER, all these things are reparable and a lot smaller problems that the Vols have had in the past. Great start to what I hope is going to be a great season - better than the 8-4 I intitially figured.

oldster writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Agree with everything except special teams. Sure Palardy made his field goals but still CAN'T put the ball in the end zone on kickoffs. Did the writer not see his last kickoff? Darr is still a sub-par punter and the botched snapp on the first TD brought back bad memories from last season.

They deserve a C at best.

You are right. I forgot this when I was making my post about the shortcomings in an otherwise strong performance. The missed extra point was due to a bad snap, but our kickers simply have no consistency. At least Palardy made up, some, for his crumby kickoff by making a good tackle. I would just as soon, however, his never having to make another.

anythinGOrange writes:

I could be wrong, but I think Palardy's last kick-off was meant to be as short as it was to prevent a big return. I'll chalk up the first PAT to first game jitters.

What I'm concerned with is the lack of consistency with the offensive line. As usual, Bray had plenty of time to find receivers and they picked up blitzes well but, other than the opening 2nd half drive, we didn't really string together a rushing attack.

Regardless, this is only my opinion. The team, as a unit, played hard and made BIG plays at BIG times.

V-O-L-S GO VOLS GO!

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

I think any weakness in the normal running game was more due to the runners than the line. Lane didn't hesitate. He ran North-South, where the hole was supposed to be. Most of the time it was positive yards, and if the hole is big enough, he's in the secondary and off to the races. Neal didn't seem to want to hit the hole unless maybe it was huge. He needs to be more like Lane and just hit it. Young isn't the downhill runner, so you can't fault him for going outside. With his small size and speed, that's what he's built for.

I was overall pleased with special teams, even though they weren't perfect by any stretch. Palardy didn't miss, except when there was a bad snap/hold on an XP, and his kickoffs were OK, for the most part. That last one was obviously meant to be a coverage kick.

Darr wasn't great, with a couple of short punts, but I think he was trying to land those inside the 20, and just came up a little short, one of them a fair catch at the 23. He averaged 45.7 yards on his first three punts, with two inside the 15YL and the third fair caught at the 21.

UTbassdrummer writes:

We basically GAVE away what SHOULD'VE been multiple opportunities to score and Justin doesn't have his hands all the way back yet (though he still put up ok numbers) and we still stayed comfortably ahead most of the game. If we had avoided dropping easy passes and scored in that last drive before the half, this game would've been MUCH uglier.

I fully agree that when our backs were willing to run North and South, they were FAR more effective, especially Marlin Lane, who really impressed me tonight. If Neal will run every play the way he did on his scoring play, we could actually have kind of a strong tandem at RB.

SUPER happy to see Zack Rogers get a TD. It's gotta be hard to be the quietly consistent non-star. Moments of glory are well deserved by our seniors, who have toughed-out a TON of hard times.

GODDDDDDDD it's good to watch football. And so much fun to watch the Vols play and win with confidence. Let's just get better and keep it going.

xvolx writes:

Vols running plays take too long to develope. Neal has strength, but balance not that good. He got knocked off his feet by one armed tackles by corners. They need more quick hit running plays north and south. Not a bad first game. Fla. will be first real test.

claiborneh writes:

It appears that the team is overall better in all aspects except the running games and kicking game. You take away Lane's one big run and it is glaringly weak as last year. The backs ran sideways a lot, and fall down to easy. Neal average 2.3 yards per carry on 22 carries. Lane averaged 8.3 per carry, but he had the only run where a huge hole was opened between the left guard and tackle. Take that one run away and ineffective like Neal.
The kicking game is inefficient as last year.The confidence he tends to evoke is almost silly, although what us he supposed to do? He is terrible. He kicks the ball TOO LOW-same as last year. He barely squeaked in last field goal which was too low. I disagree with "consistently" putting kickoffs in the endzone. Not really. He kicked it same as last year.The kickers WILL lose two games for us this year, mark it down. Dooly
should have replaced both in off season as they have showed zero improvement the entire preseason. Darr only hits it half the time. He hooks his leg to the left so he shanks it half the time-just like last year.
UT needs a bruiser rb who will run north to south and hammer 3.5 yards consistently between the tackles. Again you take away the one run, it is very weak as last year. Touch their shoestring
and they fall down, or stop or hesitate in the
backfield.
Kickers generally don't improve. The RBs are young and will likely improve.
If they don't, 8 or 9 win season and another bowl in FL with a solid D, and an exciting passing game. You just can't win them all without a running game, and you will lose the close ones because the kickers.

Exiled writes:

The defense looked to me like they were hitting much harder. I was glad to see the aggressive play.

iowavol writes:

Kicking game is in good shape, several kickoffs through the end zone, only one good return by NCS. Bray has 400 yards if Hunter shakes off whatever is ailing him (body language not good on several plays including the drops).

Defense - I'm not sold yet. NCS had more drops than catches it seemed. They left a lot of points on the field (as did we). Too many wide open receivers. However, it looked like some adjustments were made which is good to see.

Running backs - if they don't come out running North and South next week, we are a long way from having a healthy running game. Agree with earlier post, Lane looks like he should be starting - at least being the 2 guy.

O-line pass blocking is awesome. Just not sure they are holding their blocks long enough on some of those runs. Lane had one 3 yard loss with four NCS lineman in his face - how does that happen? Four of our lineman were standing looking backwards with nothing to do. How can four of them miss a block at the same time????

jawbreaker writes:

After last night's game, as long as he can hold on to the ball and stay healthy, Lane is the clear choice for tailback going forward. I also thought the linebackers deserved an A for their aggressive play, and was sorry to see Lathers injured on the bench. Overall, I thought the defense showed more willingness to tackle correctly, and to bring the leather when doing it. A good solid first-game performance (not perfect) by this Tennessee football team.

Bark_at_the_Moon writes:

in response to oldster:

Justin Hunter was acting strange. He also dropped two passes - one on fourth down that would have been a first down. I hope this was an abberation (he also showed a disturbing tendancy to run backwards after catching the ball). Based on this game, Marlin Lane should be the starter. Neal and Young do not run the holes often enough - they try to bounce everything outside. Lane runs in the lane, if you will. Our line, while better on the run than last year (it would be hard to be worse) they still have trouble rooting people out when the defense knows its coming (e.g. he play on which Bray fumbled). I am also concerned about the couple of plays where the defense got sealed inside on toss sweeps. HOWEVER, all these things are reparable and a lot smaller problems that the Vols have had in the past. Great start to what I hope is going to be a great season - better than the 8-4 I intitially figured.

Marlin Lane looked like the man in the O&W Game too. I was surprised he was not starting. As far as Hunter, he's got a little rust - nothing serious. Knee surgery takes time to fully come back if not physically - mentally.

Bark_at_the_Moon writes:

If there was one negative, I thought it was the running game was not quite as good as I had hoped it would be. Many of the yards came late in the game. NC State's DL is nowhere near as good as what we will face in the SEC.

volaholic45 writes:

Looks like the class caught the teacher on a very good day, and got very generous grades for it.
Like a B for a solid running game of 128 yds on 31 carries, but also a B for the DL for holding NCSt to a mere 119 yds on 32 carries. Huh?
Not complaining about the game - great outcome, really good improvement in effort and execution since the last outing, etc. Just a really generous report card.

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

Tip of the cap Vols fans on a solid win! You did the SEC proud. Your offense definitely looks formidable, and you'll be a confident 2-0 before the game against UF. Plus, you get to start preparing for the Gators right now. As pathetic as he's been, Dooley deserves credit for having the better prepared team last night.

Looking forward to seeing UF in action today. September 15th may feature two vastly improved teams.

John_10065 writes:

in response to oldster:

You are right. I forgot this when I was making my post about the shortcomings in an otherwise strong performance. The missed extra point was due to a bad snap, but our kickers simply have no consistency. At least Palardy made up, some, for his crumby kickoff by making a good tackle. I would just as soon, however, his never having to make another.

6 kick offs, 2 touch backs and only one decent return. Given that the 3 of the 4 non-touchbacks were inside the 5 yard line and the last one was a deliberate pooch kick, I don't know what you two are complaining about.

All the punts and only 2 were returned for a -3 yards.

Darr should be able to boot it deeper but overall I can not complain about the kicking game given it was the season opener.

SummittsCourt writes:

I agree with the grading. I think the Vols have a lot of potential this year. This game was a good measure of how well this season can go given the off season coaching changes and losing Da'Rick Rogers 10 days ago.

Patterson seems to be that "it" guy that has the potential to be special.

OldNumber7 writes:

in response to iowavol:

Kicking game is in good shape, several kickoffs through the end zone, only one good return by NCS. Bray has 400 yards if Hunter shakes off whatever is ailing him (body language not good on several plays including the drops).

Defense - I'm not sold yet. NCS had more drops than catches it seemed. They left a lot of points on the field (as did we). Too many wide open receivers. However, it looked like some adjustments were made which is good to see.

Running backs - if they don't come out running North and South next week, we are a long way from having a healthy running game. Agree with earlier post, Lane looks like he should be starting - at least being the 2 guy.

O-line pass blocking is awesome. Just not sure they are holding their blocks long enough on some of those runs. Lane had one 3 yard loss with four NCS lineman in his face - how does that happen? Four of our lineman were standing looking backwards with nothing to do. How can four of them miss a block at the same time????

Good summary - my concerns as well. I will also add what a previous poster said in that running game is taking too long to develop. The best running attacks I've seen at UT of late were in the late 80's and those backs came full speed and hit the hole hard...seems they hesitate way too much and look for a perfect seam now. Also these backs look like feathers and tip over when touched. That won't hold up in this conference.

lomas98 writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Agree with everything except special teams. Sure Palardy made his field goals but still CAN'T put the ball in the end zone on kickoffs. Did the writer not see his last kickoff? Darr is still a sub-par punter and the botched snapp on the first TD brought back bad memories from last season.

They deserve a C at best.

The last kickoff was on purpose. He kicked at least 2 others in the end zone. Gave up 1 return, otherwise state didn't have great field position after every kick. I think with starting at the 25 this year, there will be a lot of teams trying to pin the other team and not kick in endzone all the time.

FLVOL_79 writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Agree with everything except special teams. Sure Palardy made his field goals but still CAN'T put the ball in the end zone on kickoffs. Did the writer not see his last kickoff? Darr is still a sub-par punter and the botched snapp on the first TD brought back bad memories from last season.

They deserve a C at best.

I am sure he put his first kickoff into the endzone for a touch back and at least 1 more.

oldster writes:

in response to jawbreaker:

After last night's game, as long as he can hold on to the ball and stay healthy, Lane is the clear choice for tailback going forward. I also thought the linebackers deserved an A for their aggressive play, and was sorry to see Lathers injured on the bench. Overall, I thought the defense showed more willingness to tackle correctly, and to bring the leather when doing it. A good solid first-game performance (not perfect) by this Tennessee football team.

Glad you mentioned the tackling form. I did not see one, not one, of those stupid shoulder block tackles. Our guys actually wrapped up!

jobrando#216494 writes:

Work to be done getting RB's on the North/South coarse. Hate to see Neal trying to roll off East/West. Hit the hole and if not one make someone pay. Most impressed with Tyler's size improvement. Hopefully he's much more durable.

oldster writes:

in response to John_10065:

6 kick offs, 2 touch backs and only one decent return. Given that the 3 of the 4 non-touchbacks were inside the 5 yard line and the last one was a deliberate pooch kick, I don't know what you two are complaining about.

All the punts and only 2 were returned for a -3 yards.

Darr should be able to boot it deeper but overall I can not complain about the kicking game given it was the season opener.

I am complaining about not putting all the kickoffs into the end zone. One kickoff return can lose the game for you. Why run the risk, if you can avoid it. Please note that the Pack scored a td on the possession which started with the good return and Palardy's tackle - field position, field position, field position.

I am also complaining about two, count them, two shanks by Darr. Field position, field position, field position.

oldster writes:

in response to lomas98:

The last kickoff was on purpose. He kicked at least 2 others in the end zone. Gave up 1 return, otherwise state didn't have great field position after every kick. I think with starting at the 25 this year, there will be a lot of teams trying to pin the other team and not kick in endzone all the time.

If that last kickoff was on purpose, and I think it probably was, the result shows why it was a stupid idea and, given the risk vs. reward, always is.

lyafarre writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Tip of the cap Vols fans on a solid win! You did the SEC proud. Your offense definitely looks formidable, and you'll be a confident 2-0 before the game against UF. Plus, you get to start preparing for the Gators right now. As pathetic as he's been, Dooley deserves credit for having the better prepared team last night.

Looking forward to seeing UF in action today. September 15th may feature two vastly improved teams.

Nice post, DC3! Good to see other teams' fans post intelligent, non-antagonistic comments. Best of luck to UF.....today.
:-)

volsfaithful writes:

in response to oldster:

Justin Hunter was acting strange. He also dropped two passes - one on fourth down that would have been a first down. I hope this was an abberation (he also showed a disturbing tendancy to run backwards after catching the ball). Based on this game, Marlin Lane should be the starter. Neal and Young do not run the holes often enough - they try to bounce everything outside. Lane runs in the lane, if you will. Our line, while better on the run than last year (it would be hard to be worse) they still have trouble rooting people out when the defense knows its coming (e.g. he play on which Bray fumbled). I am also concerned about the couple of plays where the defense got sealed inside on toss sweeps. HOWEVER, all these things are reparable and a lot smaller problems that the Vols have had in the past. Great start to what I hope is going to be a great season - better than the 8-4 I intitially figured.

Agree on Hunter. He was tentative and I believe the Hunter of old might have turned the tight corner to evade taking a 5 yard detour, however, having had two shoulder surgeries, it took me over a year to fully recover despite the doctors telling me I was 100 percent, but the bigger thing was the mental factor for me. I felt good but was afraid to go all that I could. With Patterson performing as he did, I think Justin will ease back into his superstar role. Defense scared me - we over pursued on multiple occasions and left gaping field for Glennon to run through. That said, the overall pressure was good and did force the turnovers. Running game - I am not sold at all. Agree we bounced outside and I did not see what I would have liked in terms of being able to grind out yards. With the pass attack in full gear, it wasn't necessary, but every DC will see that and Bray will be picked off - and I'm not saying that is his fault - its just when they know you are going to pass, the odds of a pick get better. I thought Bray played an excellent game and the goal line - I'm not sold it wasn't a TD, but you still have to protect the ball. Overall I would rate us an A- (Palardy still kicks very LOW and straight)....

Colliervol writes:

The last kickoff was done that way on purpose. The writer did err in blaming Palardy on the extra point. The snap was high and almost behind the holder. Palardy had to stop and then try to kick while standing almost over the ball.

lafollette37766 writes:

A little rough around the edges, for sure can improve in some areas but the first game of the season is always like that. UT got off to a good start with a win and that is what counts.

Classof72 writes:

Well done, Vols!

tovolny writes:

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Can you say VICTORY? The first syllable starts with a "v"...can you say Vols(?)...the second syllable starts with a "t"...can you say Tennessee? It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood **%%%^^#3@@3^$#^&* We lost one Mr. Rogers -- but hey -- we had two. Kick the ball hard, kick the ball straight, Run the ball quickly but not so squiggly. SAL knows HOW the D should B. CHANEY knows how to GAINY.
DOOLEY slept well last night...so did I. 84 means GREAT beFORE thousands. I hate loosing...this is better.

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

in response to lyafarre:

Nice post, DC3! Good to see other teams' fans post intelligent, non-antagonistic comments. Best of luck to UF.....today.
:-)

Yes, I'm guilty of razzing and antagonizing too, but I always call it like I see it. UT's offense is good, more specifically, their passing game is darn good. The running game is probably not quite there yet, but improved. The defense is still vulnerable, in my opinion. Depth looked better, and Dooley and staff did the better coaching job.

Having said that, NCS is not the SEC. I'd compare them to Kentucky or Ole Miss. Regardless, every Vol should feel good about the way their team looked.

Thanks for the well wishes re: UF. And thank God football season is finally here!

Colliervol writes:

I think Hunter is still shaking the rust off and will be fine. By the time Florida comes in, they aren't going to know who to cover. That game is going to be a lot more interesting than it has been lately. No predictions though. Line 'em up and let's play.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Yes, I'm guilty of razzing and antagonizing too, but I always call it like I see it. UT's offense is good, more specifically, their passing game is darn good. The running game is probably not quite there yet, but improved. The defense is still vulnerable, in my opinion. Depth looked better, and Dooley and staff did the better coaching job.

Having said that, NCS is not the SEC. I'd compare them to Kentucky or Ole Miss. Regardless, every Vol should feel good about the way their team looked.

Thanks for the well wishes re: UF. And thank God football season is finally here!

lol. You'll see in a coupla weeks whether our D can step it up. I don't agree that NCSt. is a Kentucky or anything in Mississippi. I think they were a legit top 25...at least from a prognosticator's view. I DO think Florida will be better this season than last. But as you can see so is UT. It'll be a great game as in past.

cloudodust writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Agree with everything except special teams. Sure Palardy made his field goals but still CAN'T put the ball in the end zone on kickoffs. Did the writer not see his last kickoff? Darr is still a sub-par punter and the botched snapp on the first TD brought back bad memories from last season.

They deserve a C at best.

You and oldster need to take Pooch Kick 101. At least oldster got the bad snap part correct. You both get a D- for Kicking Game Awareness...

GatorHater1998 writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Yes, I'm guilty of razzing and antagonizing too, but I always call it like I see it. UT's offense is good, more specifically, their passing game is darn good. The running game is probably not quite there yet, but improved. The defense is still vulnerable, in my opinion. Depth looked better, and Dooley and staff did the better coaching job.

Having said that, NCS is not the SEC. I'd compare them to Kentucky or Ole Miss. Regardless, every Vol should feel good about the way their team looked.

Thanks for the well wishes re: UF. And thank God football season is finally here!

NC ST is a very underrated team. Kentucky and ole miss wouldn't stand a chance

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Colliervol:

I think Hunter is still shaking the rust off and will be fine. By the time Florida comes in, they aren't going to know who to cover. That game is going to be a lot more interesting than it has been lately. No predictions though. Line 'em up and let's play.

I almost felt sorry for the NCSt vaunted d-back!! He just didn't know who to cover and couldn't touch Patterson.

ButchBall writes:

in response to claiborneh:

It appears that the team is overall better in all aspects except the running games and kicking game. You take away Lane's one big run and it is glaringly weak as last year. The backs ran sideways a lot, and fall down to easy. Neal average 2.3 yards per carry on 22 carries. Lane averaged 8.3 per carry, but he had the only run where a huge hole was opened between the left guard and tackle. Take that one run away and ineffective like Neal.
The kicking game is inefficient as last year.The confidence he tends to evoke is almost silly, although what us he supposed to do? He is terrible. He kicks the ball TOO LOW-same as last year. He barely squeaked in last field goal which was too low. I disagree with "consistently" putting kickoffs in the endzone. Not really. He kicked it same as last year.The kickers WILL lose two games for us this year, mark it down. Dooly
should have replaced both in off season as they have showed zero improvement the entire preseason. Darr only hits it half the time. He hooks his leg to the left so he shanks it half the time-just like last year.
UT needs a bruiser rb who will run north to south and hammer 3.5 yards consistently between the tackles. Again you take away the one run, it is very weak as last year. Touch their shoestring
and they fall down, or stop or hesitate in the
backfield.
Kickers generally don't improve. The RBs are young and will likely improve.
If they don't, 8 or 9 win season and another bowl in FL with a solid D, and an exciting passing game. You just can't win them all without a running game, and you will lose the close ones because the kickers.

I agree. If you pretend the good plays didn't really happen, then the running game wasn't good. But, the big plays did happen, so its silly to pretend they didn't. There is more where that can from because we have speed backs.

In all seriousness though, there is still room to improve. But, we are easily better than last year at this point in the season. Not a juggernaut, but respectable.

Colliervol writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Yes, I'm guilty of razzing and antagonizing too, but I always call it like I see it. UT's offense is good, more specifically, their passing game is darn good. The running game is probably not quite there yet, but improved. The defense is still vulnerable, in my opinion. Depth looked better, and Dooley and staff did the better coaching job.

Having said that, NCS is not the SEC. I'd compare them to Kentucky or Ole Miss. Regardless, every Vol should feel good about the way their team looked.

Thanks for the well wishes re: UF. And thank God football season is finally here!

Good, fair analysis. But NCS is much better than Ole Miss and KY. Also better than Vandy. And the NCS offense is better than several others including South Carolina, MS State and Auburn. I'm just glad UT looked improved. After being way down for about 5 years, it was definitely a positive start. Still plenty of work to do though.

HtownVol writes:

It has been a long time since I have since UT look like this. They were different in every way last night.
The defense hit as hard as they could for 60 minutes.
The D-Linemen never stopped, unlike last season.
The entire team had "swagger".
Dooley was pumped up.
Sunseri gets in the players when he is not happy.
WE have what resembles a running game!!!

I do wish Neal would stop dancing around and running to the sideline and just hit the dang hole. Maybe coaches got on him during the game cuz the 4th he did better.

ANyone else notice that Bray is spot on when throwiint the ball 15+ yards but has trouble on short passes. Is it possible that he has too much of a cannon?

Anyway, it is going to be a fun season. I Hope Lathers can come back but barring injuries this tean "can" win 9 games.

GO VOLS

Colliervol writes:

in response to ButchBall:

I agree. If you pretend the good plays didn't really happen, then the running game wasn't good. But, the big plays did happen, so its silly to pretend they didn't. There is more where that can from because we have speed backs.

In all seriousness though, there is still room to improve. But, we are easily better than last year at this point in the season. Not a juggernaut, but respectable.

And given what all has happened in the last 5 years, respectable is a good start. They aren't top shelf by any means yet but that effort was the best I 've seen in a long time. Especially on defense with the pass rush and the tackling. The passing game was what I expected- hard to handle.

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

in response to Colliervol:

Good, fair analysis. But NCS is much better than Ole Miss and KY. Also better than Vandy. And the NCS offense is better than several others including South Carolina, MS State and Auburn. I'm just glad UT looked improved. After being way down for about 5 years, it was definitely a positive start. Still plenty of work to do though.

I'm pretty certain we all had this exact same conversation about Cincinnati after UT looked outstanding against them last year. Look, I'm giving credit where credit is due, and UT looked very solid and I'd be lying my *** off if I said otherwise. NCS was a good first game, not a cupcake but not a team that is ever going to crack the top 15 either. Props to UT, a great start to the year. We'll see what UF has on the offensive side of the ball today, but maybe even more so next week at TAM.

Enjoy your day, folks, kick back and watch some football!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Agree with everything except special teams. Sure Palardy made his field goals but still CAN'T put the ball in the end zone on kickoffs. Did the writer not see his last kickoff? Darr is still a sub-par punter and the botched snapp on the first TD brought back bad memories from last season.

They deserve a C at best.

With the rule changes in kicking this year comes a new style of kicking off..Kickers are attempting to land kick offs at or near the goal line with a certain amount of hang time..Most coaches believe they can either stop the return inside the 20 or force a turnover..Palardy can certainly kick it 5 or more yards deep in the end zone but because State didn't have a great return man and our special teams had already pinned them at the 15, Dooley was allowing a return in hopes off an easy turnover..You will be seeing a 50/50 ratio in all college games on touchbacks..If your going to be critical off Palardy at least understand the kicking game

beartn#223846 writes:

<<It appears that the team is overall better in all aspects except the running games and kicking game>>

How is the running game not better? Last year, we couldn't run for 100 yards on the worst teams we played. We ran for just over 190 yards against a team that is supposed to be pretty good. I don't think we have a dominmant running game, where running will be a frequent option on 3rd and 3, but we are clearly better than last years 116th ranked rushing game. My guess is we will be in the middle of the pack in the SEC for rushing yards.

BigOrangeFreak writes:

in response to claiborneh:

It appears that the team is overall better in all aspects except the running games and kicking game. You take away Lane's one big run and it is glaringly weak as last year. The backs ran sideways a lot, and fall down to easy. Neal average 2.3 yards per carry on 22 carries. Lane averaged 8.3 per carry, but he had the only run where a huge hole was opened between the left guard and tackle. Take that one run away and ineffective like Neal.
The kicking game is inefficient as last year.The confidence he tends to evoke is almost silly, although what us he supposed to do? He is terrible. He kicks the ball TOO LOW-same as last year. He barely squeaked in last field goal which was too low. I disagree with "consistently" putting kickoffs in the endzone. Not really. He kicked it same as last year.The kickers WILL lose two games for us this year, mark it down. Dooly
should have replaced both in off season as they have showed zero improvement the entire preseason. Darr only hits it half the time. He hooks his leg to the left so he shanks it half the time-just like last year.
UT needs a bruiser rb who will run north to south and hammer 3.5 yards consistently between the tackles. Again you take away the one run, it is very weak as last year. Touch their shoestring
and they fall down, or stop or hesitate in the
backfield.
Kickers generally don't improve. The RBs are young and will likely improve.
If they don't, 8 or 9 win season and another bowl in FL with a solid D, and an exciting passing game. You just can't win them all without a running game, and you will lose the close ones because the kickers.

Did you notice anything in this game worthwhile or do you love pointing out just the shortcomings?

This team made an enormous improvement from last year and if you can't acknowledge that perhaps you should not watch at all.

I have a feeling alot of you haters are going to have to find someone else to bit@ch about this year.

nvavol writes:

Good game overall and I think that the two most glaring mistakes were Chaney's play calling on one play in the 1st quarter when it was 4th and 1 and he called a pass play that was incomplete and a play in the 2nd quarter when it was 4th and 1 and he called a run to the right which resulted in loss yardage. I was taught that the shortest distance between 2 points was a straight line. Power the ball straight ahead. Not impressed with Chaney and never have been. Relies way too much on the pass.

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

UT caught the early breaks and won. Much like the Cinn game last year it looks very deceptive. UT's new defense allowed 407 yards to a non ranked middle of the road ACC team. If NC State didnt drop 4 wide open balls it would be over 500 yards. The defense had better improve by leaps and bounds to compete in the SEC.

west_tn_volfan writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Agree with everything except special teams. Sure Palardy made his field goals but still CAN'T put the ball in the end zone on kickoffs. Did the writer not see his last kickoff? Darr is still a sub-par punter and the botched snapp on the first TD brought back bad memories from last season.

They deserve a C at best.

The short kickoff was by design. They didn't want to give their best return man a chance for a big play. The coaches made that call not Palardy.

LCPanthers (Inactive) writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

I'm pretty certain we all had this exact same conversation about Cincinnati after UT looked outstanding against them last year. Look, I'm giving credit where credit is due, and UT looked very solid and I'd be lying my *** off if I said otherwise. NCS was a good first game, not a cupcake but not a team that is ever going to crack the top 15 either. Props to UT, a great start to the year. We'll see what UF has on the offensive side of the ball today, but maybe even more so next week at TAM.

Enjoy your day, folks, kick back and watch some football!

But u have to admit they (NCST) are better than Bowling Green.So tks for favorable commit.And we will see on 9/15 how both teams have improved.

GO VOLS

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