Vols hold off South Alabama, 31-24

Tennessee running back Rajion Neal (20) gets past a tackle by South Alabama safety Terrell Brigham (18) while carrying the ball down the sideline in the first half against South Alabama at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Lau

Tennessee running back Rajion Neal (20) gets past a tackle by South Alabama safety Terrell Brigham (18) while carrying the ball down the sideline in the first half against South Alabama at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

South Alabama wouldn’t go away quietly Saturday — not until Brian Randolph’s end-zone interception with 1:51 to play saved a 31-24 Tennessee victory.

The Vols (3-2) dodged an embarrassing bullet, almost allowing the fledgling football program in its fifth season escape with a stunning upset at Neyland Stadium.

After falling behind 7-0, Tennessee scored 31 unanswered points, going up 31-7 on Rajion Neal’s touchdown run early in the third quarter.

After that, it was all Jaguars.

South Alabama (2-2) scored 17 consecutive points and was driving towards more when Randolph made the interception off Ross Metheney on a fourth-and-goal pass from the UT 14.

Justin Worley threw touchdown passes to A.J. Branisel and Josh Smith and Marlin Lane scored on a 2-yard run to make it 24-7 Vols at the half.

Worley, however, was intercepted three times, twice in the end zone.

Worley finished 20 of 36 for 204 yards passing. Neal rushed for a career-high 169 yards as the Vols outgained the Jaguars 482 to 392.

Metheney was 21 of 42 passing for 234 yards and scored twice on runs of 32 and 5 yards.

LaDarrell McNeil and Brent Brewer also had interceptions for the Vols.

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Comments » 22

Oldhickory writes:

We need a whole truck load of bricks, because this game was just sad.

SmokeysPup writes:

I think this may turn out to be a good thing. Winning a close game may go further in helping this team that winning by 30. Got to win close games and they did that. A win is a win is a win. I was in Neyland in the late 70's when North Texas waltzed in and upset us. Probably worst upset in VOL history.

volfreak#210492 writes:

This wasn't too pretty but one thing, not all the picks of Worley were his fault. TV showed Butch giving Pig an earful after he gave up on the route that was Worley's 2nd pick. If Pig stays running, that's likely a touchdown. The 3rd was a tipped ball.

But man it was tough watching the offense go into the tank for the entire 2nd half. The UGA game could be pretty ugly...

wigmeister writes:

Tale of two halves. When they intercepted the pass at the end of the first half, I knew we were in trouble. Momentum had shifted, and Worley looked awful in that second half. Our defense didn't help in that half either.

Caspian writes:

It's a win. I'll take it. Worley appears to be able to throw a decent ball if he has time and is able to step into it. But at the slightest provocation, he is *way* off the mark. He seems mentally fragile.

goobervol writes:

Enjoy the W. Probably the last of the season. Absolute moral victory. If Jones continues on his path of redshirting both freshmen qbs and continues with questionable play calling on offense, then perhaps he and all of the coaches should be given redshirts after our final L to KY. Just a thought. Until the defensive players can be taught to play their specific positions and read offensive schemes, our own qb problems will be a moot question anyway.

facultyman writes:

in response to SmokeysPup:

I think this may turn out to be a good thing. Winning a close game may go further in helping this team that winning by 30. Got to win close games and they did that. A win is a win is a win. I was in Neyland in the late 70's when North Texas waltzed in and upset us. Probably worst upset in VOL history.

Yes, it's a win, but that's all. 4-8 or 5-7?

rockypop writes:

in response to Oldhickory:

We need a whole truck load of bricks, because this game was just sad.

Butch may want to consider substituting concrete for bricks.

utfans#211352 writes:

What was going on with Tiny at the end of the game? He was pushing Worley and yelling at coaches. I was yelling at Worley myself a few times today. Sadly,we are not going to compete in the SEC without better qb play.

standfast#211788 writes:

It is important that the team remembers just how close they came to losing this game. And what ever happened to the massive, experienced offensive line with all these first round draft choices. You know, the one that hangs-out together and eats together, and all that warm-fuzzy stuff. Maybe they better talk about how they are going to protect their quarterback and make some holes for the running backs. A win is a win, but this was a pitiful effort against a second-tier program. It's a good thing we don't have to play any more tough teams, like Alabama or Georgia or South Carolina.

jimhardin2#1422362 writes:

so sad

allvol8 writes:

in response to standfast#211788:

It is important that the team remembers just how close they came to losing this game. And what ever happened to the massive, experienced offensive line with all these first round draft choices. You know, the one that hangs-out together and eats together, and all that warm-fuzzy stuff. Maybe they better talk about how they are going to protect their quarterback and make some holes for the running backs. A win is a win, but this was a pitiful effort against a second-tier program. It's a good thing we don't have to play any more tough teams, like Alabama or Georgia or South Carolina.

I agree our "experienced" O-line failed to protect Worley..I think that is where it needs to be addressed 1st

GerryOP writes:

How many points did Worley and the O-team allow USA to score?

crob7x writes:

Plenty to grouse about, but regarding the field goal attempt that didn't fly after the fake one was called back, wouldn't it make sense to have a left handed holder for a left footed kicker?

BigOrangeFreak writes:

I'm disappointed that we haved decided to hang our hopes entirely on Worley. Its obvious that he is not a long-term solution for us and to continue to play him says what? That we have no faith whatsoever in our freshmen or they are worse than Worley from a talent standpoint? I would rather see us go down swinging while developing players for the coming season--nobody realistically expected us do any better than 6-6 or 7-5 this year anyway--and I just don't see Worley being the starting quarterback on this team next year.

Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Esau writes:

I guess a win is a win however...

GerryOP writes:

in response to BigOrangeFreak:

I'm disappointed that we haved decided to hang our hopes entirely on Worley. Its obvious that he is not a long-term solution for us and to continue to play him says what? That we have no faith whatsoever in our freshmen or they are worse than Worley from a talent standpoint? I would rather see us go down swinging while developing players for the coming season--nobody realistically expected us do any better than 6-6 or 7-5 this year anyway--and I just don't see Worley being the starting quarterback on this team next year.

Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Seriously? You have determined that it is "...obvious that he is not a long-term solution...?" Really? If I remember right, the defense dropped the Vols a TD in the hole before Worley and the offense even walked on the field. And all they did was post 31 points before USA could even get close to our goal line!?!? Do you really believe that it is Worley's job to post whatever points necessary to cover the weaknesses in the defense?

From where I was sitting, in the 2nd half our "D" gave us a pretty good recollection of the '12 Vol "D." Yet you, after how many games, have leapt to the conclusion that it is "...obvious that he is not a long-term solution...?" You had better let Butch know.

allvol8 writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Seriously? You have determined that it is "...obvious that he is not a long-term solution...?" Really? If I remember right, the defense dropped the Vols a TD in the hole before Worley and the offense even walked on the field. And all they did was post 31 points before USA could even get close to our goal line!?!? Do you really believe that it is Worley's job to post whatever points necessary to cover the weaknesses in the defense?

From where I was sitting, in the 2nd half our "D" gave us a pretty good recollection of the '12 Vol "D." Yet you, after how many games, have leapt to the conclusion that it is "...obvious that he is not a long-term solution...?" You had better let Butch know.

Maybe he thinks this is a moral loss..yeah the D let up some big plays..I also saw an experienced O line not protecting our QB as well. The blame does not solely go to Worley

BigOrangeFreak writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Seriously? You have determined that it is "...obvious that he is not a long-term solution...?" Really? If I remember right, the defense dropped the Vols a TD in the hole before Worley and the offense even walked on the field. And all they did was post 31 points before USA could even get close to our goal line!?!? Do you really believe that it is Worley's job to post whatever points necessary to cover the weaknesses in the defense?

From where I was sitting, in the 2nd half our "D" gave us a pretty good recollection of the '12 Vol "D." Yet you, after how many games, have leapt to the conclusion that it is "...obvious that he is not a long-term solution...?" You had better let Butch know.

If you want to champion Worley, be my guest. It is obvious--to anyone who knows football--that the kid is not a quality, SEC-caliber quarterback. If you're backing him due to some familial connection I can understand, but short of that, you can never convince me this guy has what it takes to be a QB on a quality football team.

Again, with the knowledge that we would go at best, 7-5 this year, Coach Jones should be preparing a quarterback that will be under center next year. You can say what you want about the defense giving up points and one or two of his interceptions not being his fault, but he was 20-37 for 205 yards against S. Alabama. There is such a thing as the Eye Test and this guy has failed every time I've watched him play.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BigOrangeFreak:

If you want to champion Worley, be my guest. It is obvious--to anyone who knows football--that the kid is not a quality, SEC-caliber quarterback. If you're backing him due to some familial connection I can understand, but short of that, you can never convince me this guy has what it takes to be a QB on a quality football team.

Again, with the knowledge that we would go at best, 7-5 this year, Coach Jones should be preparing a quarterback that will be under center next year. You can say what you want about the defense giving up points and one or two of his interceptions not being his fault, but he was 20-37 for 205 yards against S. Alabama. There is such a thing as the Eye Test and this guy has failed every time I've watched him play.

No doubt there could be a number of valid criticisms of Worley, but you really can't just discount the faults of the rest of the team. I too would like to see what one of the freshmen could do, but I disagree with the idea that CBJ should just tank this season in order to build for the future. It would just be rolling the dice to turn the controls over to one of the freshmen, none of whom apparently resembles a Peyton Manning or a Condredge Holloway. Maybe CBJ rolls a series of sevens, but such an experiment could just as easily blow up the lab, and those calling for freshmen now would be all over Jones if it didn't work.

BigOrangeFreak writes:

in response to johnlg00:

No doubt there could be a number of valid criticisms of Worley, but you really can't just discount the faults of the rest of the team. I too would like to see what one of the freshmen could do, but I disagree with the idea that CBJ should just tank this season in order to build for the future. It would just be rolling the dice to turn the controls over to one of the freshmen, none of whom apparently resembles a Peyton Manning or a Condredge Holloway. Maybe CBJ rolls a series of sevens, but such an experiment could just as easily blow up the lab, and those calling for freshmen now would be all over Jones if it didn't work.

I never said Coach should "tank this season in order to build for the future." My comment pointed to the fact that NOBODY expected more from this team than simply becoming bowl eligible. Many pundits actually thought UT would not even make a bowl game this year. We had several winnable games on the schedule but we also had 5 games that ALL the pundits gave us no chance of winning. (Oregon, UF, UGA, USC, Bama.) My point was that as questionable as Worley is at QB--even given the fact that he is a junior--why not allow the freshmen who may have more skill albeit less experience, to get the experience they'll need going forward. The "swing" games we need to win to become bowl eligible aren't til the end of the season anyway (Mizzou, Auburn, Vandy) so this would give Jones ample time to get one of these guys some experience.

Notwithstanding Worley's accomplishments in high school, he just isn't a college-level QB.

Slats writes:

Those arm chair coaches and hindsight 20/20 talk show host wanted Worley out at Florida and see what happened!

I think the coach has more insight as to what QB we have the best chance to win with!

You play with what you have!

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