It’s really just a classic case of two teams being very different, although both are coming into the game undefeated.
That Volunteers have had a lot to prove, and so far through the first two games, there hasn’t been any reason to believe that Butch Jones’ second season won’t be better than the first. Although they aren’t quite vying for an SEC title.
A lot has fallen on quarterback Justin Worley, who returned this season after a hand injury kept him out of multiple games last season.
Thus far, he has been exactly what Tennessee would have wanted.
“He has confidence in the players around him,” Jones said of his quarterback who has thrown for 520 yards and five touchdowns in the first two games. “Some of them are pushing the ball down the field. He has great confidence in our wide receivers and our tight ends. I think that's a byproduct of that they've been playing fairly well.” Worley has developed an extra connection with his top target, wide receiver Marquez North. North has caught two touchdowns thus far this season, and at 6-foot-4, he is a huge target for Worley.
The pair’s chemistry was about the only good thing coming out of a victory against Arkansas State on Saturday. The Volunteers had to hang on to a 17-point after scoring late in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee has found some answers at the skill position, which feature some exceptional speed and extensive – albeit young – talent.
The holes in the trenches weren’t glaring against Utah State or Arkansas State, but they’ll have their hands full this week.
“These are going to be the days of a very, very young football team but we are learning how to win,” Jones said after the team’s victory against Arkansas State. “Teams find ways to win football games when they don't play their best football. So I'm very proud of them that way, but make no mistake about it, we have a long ways to go.”