Vol Notebook: Game 2

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Tennessee played just two freshmen in Game 1 but the trickle turned into a flood in Saturday's 51-13 Game 2 drubbing of Georgia State.

Seven freshmen made their collegiate debuts against the Panthers. They were tailback Quenshaun Watson, fullback Justin King, wide receiver Jason Croom, defensive backs Daniel Gray and LaDarrell McNeil, nose tackle Omari Phillips and defensive end Trent Taylor.

Most showed up on the stat sheet. Watson carried seven times for 27 yards, caught a 17-yard pass and scored a touchdown. King played direct-snap tailback in Tennessee's wildcat package, carrying once for no gain but pitching to Cordarrelle Patterson for an 18-yard pickup on an option play. Gray recorded two tackles and McNeil one. Taylor contributed an assist.

The only freshmen who played in Game 1 for Tennessee were wideout Cody Blanc and defensive back Deion Bonner. Both played in Game 2, as well, but neither has made a statistical contribution to date.

At least one more freshman is likely to play this fall. Alton Howard, nicknamed "Pig," missed the first two games due to a foot injury. Based on the lavish praise of veteran Vols, however, the electrifying wide receiver should be seeing the field as soon as he's physically capable.

In addition to the seven true freshmen who got their first taste of college action versus Georgia State, four redshirt freshmen made their debuts on Saturday. Mack Crowder saw some backup action at center. Kyler Kerbyson and Alan Posey got some snaps at tackle. Trevarris Saulsberry played enough at defensive end to record a hurry.


Speaking of hurries, Tennessee was credited with 10 of them in Game 2 versus Georgia State. This was just one week after the Vols were credited with zero hurries in a Game 1 defeat of North Carolina State, despite hitting Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon a dozen times.

Maybe the Vol pass rush improved that dramatically from Week 1 to Week 2. Or maybe the team statistician merely expanded his definition of the term "hurry" from Week 1 to Week 2.


With 558 yards of total offense against Georgia State, Tennessee cracked the 500-yard barrier in consecutive games for the first time since producing 502 versus Arkansas and 590 versus Kentucky in back-to-back outings during November of 2000. This fall marks the first time in program history the Big Orange has posted 500-plus yards in the first two games of a season.


Tennessee's point total against Georgia State represents the fourth time the Big Orange has scored "half a hundred" on an opponent during the Derek Dooley era. His 2010 Vols beat UT Martin 50-0, beat Memphis 50-14 and beat Ole Miss 52-14. Tennessee's two highest scoring outputs of the past five years occurred under Lane Kiffin in 2009, when the Vols hammered Western Kentucky 63-7 and crushed Memphis 56-28.


Tennessee's average of 7.9 yards per play in Game 2 represents the best mark of the Dooley era. His 2010 Vols averaged 7.4 yards per play against UT Martin in a 50-0 blowout, 7.3 yards against Memphis in a 50-14 romp and 7.0 yards against Ole Miss in a 52-14 beat-down. His 2011 Vols' best efforts were a 7.2-yard average in a 42-16 drubbing of Montana and a 7.0 mark in a 45-23 dusting of Cincinnati.

Tennessee was especially effective throwing the ball against Georgia State. Quarterbacks Tyler Bray and Justin Worley combined to average 17.0 yards per completion and 13.4 yards per attempt.


Despite making just 14 career starts, Bray boasts eight games with 300 or more passing yards and eight games with three or more passing touchdowns.

His two-game stats for 2012 show him 45 of 61 for a whopping 73.8 completion percentage, with 643 yards, six touchdowns, zero interceptions and a passer-efficiency rating of 194.8. To put that last number in perspective, that's precisely 50 points better than his 2011 efficiency rating of 144.8.


Saturday saw junior wideout Justin Hunter become just the eighth Tennessee player to record three touchdown catches in a game. The last to turn the trick was Chris Hannon versus Mississippi State a decade ago in 2002. The only Vol ever to accomplish the feat twice was Donte Stallworth.

Incredibly, Hunter has five 100-yard receiving games in just seven career starts.


Junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson could wind up leading the SEC in all-purpose yards in his first year at Tennessee. Patterson posted 195 against Georgia State — 106 returning kickoffs, 71 receiving and 18 rushing. He has 360 all-purpose yards through two outings, an average of 180.0 per game. Alabama's Trent Richardson led the SEC in all-purpose yards last fall with 160.2 per game.

Patterson's 61-yard kickoff return versus Georgia State was Tennessee's longest since Da' Rick Rogers posted a 78-yard runback against Kentucky in 2010.


The blowout of Georgia State extended Tennessee's streak to 18 consecutive victories in home openers. The last time the Vols fell in their Knoxville debut was 1994. After bowing 25-23 at UCLA and beating Georgia 41-23 in Athens, the Vols dropped their home opener 31-0 to a top-ranked Florida squad coached by Steve Spurrier. That Vol team rallied behind a freshman quarterback named Peyton Manning to win seven of its last eight games and finish 8-4, including a 45-23 beat-down of Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl.


Junior Alex Bullard has endured almost as many number changes as position changes this year. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Notre Dame transfer has played center, guard, tackle and tight end at various times this fall. Per NCAA rules, he had to switch from a lineman's number (78) to a receiver's number (88) while playing tight end in last week's opener against North Carolina State. He switched again for Game 2 versus Georgia State, donning jersey No. 89. There's no word yet on what number he'll wear for Game 3 against Florida.


With Game 1 starters Herman Lathers (weak side) and Curt Maggitt (strong side) sidelined by injuries, Tennessee was forced to start two replacements at linebacker in Game 2. Dontavis Sapp made his first career start in place of Lathers and Willie Bohannon made his fifth career start in place of Maggitt. Both fill-ins performed well. Sapp was credited with 4 stops, including 1.5 tackles for loss. Bohannon weighed in with 2 stops, a sack, a fumble forced, a fumble recovery and 2 hurries.


Numbers may not lie but they can be awfully deceptive. Georgia State dominated time of possession on Saturday, keeping the ball 34:18 to Tennessee's 25:42. Of course, that's because the Vols' seven touchdown marches included drives of two, three, four, four, five and six plays.

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