The Brothers Sullins

When a sore Achilles tendon forced first-team guard Vlad Richard to the sidelines two series into Tennessee's opener against Western Kentucky, Hilltopper defenders surely thought they were seeing double.

Lined up at center for the Vols' third offensive series was Cody Sullins. Lined up next to him at left guard was his twin brother Cory. The fact both are former walk-ons with virtually no game experience did not bode well ... but someone forgot to tell them.

With the Brothers Sullins anchoring the middle of the line, Tennessee scored touchdowns on its next four possessions to build a 28-0 halftime lead en route to a 63-7 romp.

"For the center to play that well after never having played significantly - stepping into Josh McNeil's shoes in front of that big crowd - was great to see," Vol head coach Lane Kiffin said. "And for his brother to come in the third series of the game, then we go seven of the next nine series for touchdowns ... it was neat to see those guys play together and do well."

Cody and Cory may have played well together but they didn't always play nice. The two engaged in some animated discussions during the course of the opening game.

Quarterback Jonathan Crompton laughed when reminded of the sibling rivalry.

"If you know them, that's what they do: They bicker at each other but in a competitive way," Crompton said. "They're so much alike and hard-headed that they end up arguing."

Although both of the Sullins twins represent feel-good stories, Cody's rise to first-teamer is particularly noteworthy. He made his initial career start vs. WKU and performed quite well.

"Cody's a great young man," Crompton said. "He's worked his butt off since we got here in 2005. I can't say enough about him. For his first start he played pretty well. He made some good blocks, made the checks at the right time. He didn't choke under pressure or anything like that."

Cody had to play pretty well or the Vols couldn't have piled up 657 yards of total offense and scored nine touchdowns.

"When you rush for 380 yards and give up no sacks - no matter who you've played - your offensive line is playing well," Kiffin said.

Although no one expected the Vols to put up such big numbers, the head man said he was not surprised by the O-line's dominating performance.

"We don't ever get surprised by the success of our players because that's what we think they should all do," Kiffin noted. "We put that in their minds that that's how they're supposed to play and we'd be disappointed with anything but that."

Given plenty of time to throw, Crompton completed 21 of 28 passes for 233 yards and five touchdowns. He graciously acknowledged the role his blockers played in his success.

"I thought they played really well," Crompton said. "They gave me good protection and they made good blocks in the run game. That's all you can ask for."

After taking considerable heat for Tennessee's offensive futility in 2008, the blockers are enjoying newfound confidence these days.

"Yeah, I think so," Crompton said. "They had a little bit of a rough time last year, just as everybody did. Once Coach Kiffin said for everybody to start anew, start from scratch, they said, 'OK, let's do this,' and bought in like everybody else."

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