Be sure to check back to see what the IT staff has to say about the Tennessee game every Saturday this fall.
Josh Woodward's thoughts
Tennessee looked like the bigger stronger SEC school, but Montana was a much better opponent than last year's opener U.T. Martin. If Tennessee can keep getting the ball to Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers they will be able to play with most teams. The big concerns for me are the lack of execution in the run game. Tennessee's offensive line had to outweigh Montana by at least 30 pounds, they only ran the ball for 129 yards against a FBS team.
Another concern is handling the football, Tennessee coughed up the football 6 times and Tyler Bray threw the ball loosely. Tight end is another position that was not up to par with no catches for the night.
On defense, it seemed to rattle the young guys with the no huddle, but they settled in and played good against a spread team. Montana is not bad and a great warm up to Cincinnati who scored 72 against Austin Peay. A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt both looked the part and I thought late in the game played faster.
Special Teams was better with the exception of punting which could use some improvement.
Special Teams: B
Danny Parker's thoughts
As underclassmen-laden rosters have shown in the past, they're a roller-coaster ride of momentum and emotion.
Tennessee fit that description to a 'T' on Saturday night as, despite a 26-point win and 311-yard passing day, the Volunteers simply weren't crisp in any facet of the game.
Quarterback Tyler Bray needed just 24 passes to reach the 293-yard mark. However, the sophomore had a pair of interceptions called negated due to pass interference. Would they have been picks if the plays were run clean? Who knows.
He also had a fumble — one of the Vols' five — that was recovered by a teammate.
If this team is ever going to turn the corner, it must do so running the football. After 46 carries netted a mere 128 yards against a Football Championship Subdivision team, it's blatantly evident that much more work needs to be done.
It was hard to get a firm read on UT's base 4-3 defense as Montana's spread-option attack forced the hosts to use their Nickel package early and often. Nickelback Eric Gordon showed why he beat out some talented teammates for the spot.
The defensive line didn't often do the pass defense any favors with minimal pass rush. That, too, must change immediately.
Kicker Michael Palardy had a touchback and didn't miss a kick. But, neither punter resembled a member of the Colquitt family as Palardy and Matt Darr averaged a combined 37.2 yards per attempt and had no boots inside the 20-yard line.
Special teams: B-
Randy Moore's thoughts
That physical running attack Tennessee coaches have been promising didn't show up but the Vols' big-play passing game did. Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers looked unstoppable, even given Montana's status as a FCS team. Tennessee's defense looked better than I expected, giving up one TD on a big play and another after the game was on ice. For an opener, I thought the youthful Vols played reasonably well.
Special Teams: B-
Chris Price's thoughts
Derek Dooley's team came out hot following a one hour and forty minute rain delay, which was impressive considering the youth of his football team. Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers gave Tennessee fans a taste of what is to come in the Tennessee offense, but enough praise. The complete lack of ability to hold onto the football was unacceptable. Tennessee was extremely lucky to get away having not lost any fumbles. The running game was not nearly what it needs to be. In order to be successful Tauren Poole, Marlin Lane and the offensive line will need to be much more powerful.
Special Teams: C+