Be sure to check back to see what the IT staff has to say about the Tennessee game every Saturday this fall.
Randy Moore's thoughts
Tennessee got back to its roots versus Middle Tennessee, flinging the ball all over the lot. Justin Worley, looking light-years head of his first start in his second, completed 16 of 21 passes for 202 yards in producing a 24-0 halftime lead, and the Big Orange coasted from there. The run game continued to struggle, though, even against a porous Blue Raider defense.
Defensively, Tennessee set the tone early when linebacker Austin Johnson returned an interception to the MTSU 7-yard line just four minutes into the game. The Vols scored a minute later. Later, 17-yard interception return by cornerback Eric Gordon set up a short drive that produced a 21-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. Tennessee's defense was so dominant in the first two quarters – holding MTSU to 78 yards of total offense – that the game essentially was over by halftime.
Even with Michael Palardy sidelined by injury and redshirt freshman walk-on Derrick Brodus handling the kicking chores, Tennessee's special-teams play was pretty good. Devrin Young continues to provide some excitement on returns.
Special Teams: B
Danny Parker's thoughts
Much of the first half was a blur to me knowing that I had an on-air interview on FSN in the third quarter, but from what I could recollect it certainly seemed like the Tennessee passing game cranked it up a notch.
Nearly doubling Middle Tennessee in time of possession did just the trick to keep the Volunteer defense off the field, which prevented the lack of depth from ever being an issue. On the flip side, Jaron Toney netted just 2.7 yards per carry and Tauren Poole 1.2.
Justin Worley resembled the quarterback the staff thought they were getting when they signed him out of Rock Hill, S.C., completing 23 of 32 passes for 291 yards and the first aerial touchdown since the Buffalo game. Wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers helped his young signal-caller out big time with nine catches for 137 yards.
Tennessee's defense did a fabulous job getting off the field, holding the Blue Raiders to 3-of-11 on third downs and 0-for-1 on fourth down. The visitors totaled just 52 plays and were forced into three turnovers.
Third-stringer and Alcoa High School product Derrick Brodus was clutch not only making it to Neyland Stadium from a fraternity party in time to handle the placekicking duties but also in booting through all three extra points and a 21-yard field goal.
Special teams: A-
Chris Price's thoughts
Tennessee's game with MTSU was exactly what it should have been and possibly even a little better. The defense forced three turnovers and gave up no points to the Blue Raiders. I believe they have improved every week over the last several.
Justin Worley showed a few things. He came out accurate completing nine of his first ten passes. The game plan definitely was designed to help Worley out with quick passes, but game plan aside he executed.
Perhaps the best story of the evening, Derrick Brodus. He was fresh off the couch, police escort, then I personally watched him sprinting into the stadium and all I could think was 'why is he even here?' I found out soon enough.
And Brodus delievered kicked three extra points and a short field goal right before the half. All-in-all it was what Tennessee should have done. They dominated an inferior opponent. Now it's time to beat someone who matters.
Special Teams: B+
Josh Woodward's thoughts
Offensively Quarterback Justin Worley looked more comfortable in the offense. The running game is still nonexistent, although I like the way Jaron Toney ran the football. He uses his hips well running through the gaps. Da'Rick Rogers was lights out with nine catches for 137 yards and a TD.
Defensively anytime you get a shut out you are playing well. This defense has really improved since the beginning of the season. I really like Eric Gordon, whom rarely misses a tackle and had an interception. A.J. Johnson is continuing to play good football; he has the potential to be a great one.
Special Teams made it through the night without a hitch, the Vols are down to a second walk on after Chip Rhome was injured during warm ups. Tennessee had to get a police escort to bring in Derrick Brodus to handle the duties. Brodus was on campus at a Fraternity House and was rushed to the game sending equipment managers rushing trying to find his uniform.
Special Teams: A