Beating a nationally ranked opponent with one weapon, however, is akin to beating a heavyweight boxing champ with one hand: It's just about impossible. Once the Ducks figured out that stopping Poole would stop the Big Orange, Tennessee had no Plan B.
After gaining 111 yards in the first quarter, Poole was limited to 29 yards in the second quarter, 23 in the third quarter and minus-1 in the fourth.
Not surprisingly, Tennessee's total offense numbers showed a corresponding drop in production. After compiling 198 first-quarter yards, the Vols slipped to 46 in Quarter No. 2, 88 in Quarter No. 3 and 1 net yard in Quarter No. 4.
Tennessee's Matt Simms compiled decent numbers, completing 15 of 29 passes for 151 yards. He threw for 66 of those yards in the first quarter but just 10 in the second quarter as Oregon turned a 13-3 deficit into a 13-all tie. Simms bounced back to pass for 70 yards in the third quarter but also threw a pick-six that bumped the Ducks' lead to 27-13 and took the starch right out of the Vols.
Obviously, Tennessee missed senior receiver Gerald Jones, who posted a team-best 46 receptions in 2009. Sidelined by a broken bone in his hand, Jones is expected to miss this Saturday's game vs. Florida, as well. That leaves the Vols with a wideout corps of senior Denarius Moore, sophomore Zach Rogers and three true freshmen.
"We're going to need to hit some plays throwing the ball," head coach Derek Dooley conceded. "I think that's what eventually caught up with us. We're not going to sit there and run it for 600 yards on a good football team. We just couldn't get much going throwing the ball."
Another problem that crushed Tennessee's upset hopes was a woeful 2-for-15 success rate on third-down conversions. Again, Dooley blamed the passing attack.
"You're going to have to throw and catch; that's what third down is," Dooley said. "There's no other way around it. You've got to execute the pass game."
More offensive observations:
- Zach Rogers, younger brother of former Vol Austin Rogers, led Tennessee with three catches for 45 yards in his first career start.
- Daniel Lincoln made field goals of 48 and 35 yards and now stands 4 for 4 on the season. He nailed his first eight attempts as a freshman in 2007, setting a program record in the process.
- After averaging 7.7 yards per rush and 7.4 yards per play in Game 1 vs. UT Martin, Tennessee averaged 5.1 per rush and 5.1 per play in Game 2. The Vols averaged 12.1 yards per completion vs. Martin, 10.1 yards per completion vs. Oregon.
- Tennessee is establishing itself as a ball-control team. The Vols won the time of possession battle 31:13 to 28:47 vs. Oregon after posting a TOP advantage of 33:21 to 26:39 vs. UT Martin.