No one knew what to expect going into Saturday night's opener and the kickoff of the Derek Dooley era against UT Martin.
After a slow start and only a 20-0 lead at the half, the Vols, under their new head coach, showed a lot of heart and a lot of fight in the second half, scoring 23 unanswered points in the third quarter of play to begin the dismantling of the Skyhawks.
With a new head coach, fans and media alike were unsure of how conservative Dooley would be or if his team would play with a killer instinct.
Both those questions were answered against UT Martin.
Two big touchdowns by Denarius Moore in the third quarter and good runs by the Vols two-man tailback tandem proved this team will be playing with a lot of heart and a lot of passion.
Dooley showed good clock management and showed Vol Nation he wasn't satisfied with a 13-0 lead in the first half.
The first-year UT head coach called two timeouts defensively to secure the football for his offensive unit before the end of the first half.
That was all that Tauren Poole needed.
The junior running back closed out the first half of play on a 24-yard touchdown with 1:44 remaining.
"That touchdown before the half was critical for this young's team confidence," said one veteran sportswriter covering the Vols. "They needed that score, and it showed in the third quarter, it added to their fire and motivation in the third quarter."
Dooley showed a lot of poise on the sidelines as the Vols head man, and he also showed he wasn't afraid to let his team play.
No one ever thought the Vols game with Martin would be in jeopardy, but with home games looming with nationally ranked Oregon and Florida in the next two weeks, showing a killer instinct and putting away the Skyhawks was important for this young team's confidence.
Dooley said after the game that he was pleased with the way his team came out in the third quarter, but more importantly how his team finished the last three minutes of the first half.
"You have to finish the first three minutes of the first half and the last three minutes of the game, it's vital," Dooley said. "I liked the way we came out in the third quarter, we played well."
Dooley was asked if he got emotional during his first ball game, and you may be surprised by the answer.
"The emotional part was the Vol Walk," Dooley said. "From the moment we got off the bus. You hear how great the Vol Walk is but until you go through it yourself, there is absolutely nothing like it.
"These fans are incredible, what they have been through the last two years and for them to come out and support this team is simply amazing."
Dooley's team finished off UT Martin 50-0 to begin the Dooley era.
Oh by the way, his mother Barbara, a longtime Georgia Bulldog, wore orange-and-white polka dots to the game.