Dooley's debut a success

Fans who worried that Derek Dooley wouldn't embrace Tennessee's football traditions can rest easier. In fact, his debut as the Vols' head man came right out of the Bob Neyland instruction book.

Combining a potent ground game, a salty defense and great field position, Dooley opened his era with a 50-0 drubbing of UT Martin Saturday night at Neyland Stadium. Afterward, the new coach underscored his devotion to UT traditions by quoting one of Neyland's game maxims.

"We talk about these maxims," Dooley said. "What's No. 1? The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. I believe it. I believe it. That's turnovers, penalties and missed assignments."

Although Tennessee clearly had superior personnel, the win could've been closer if the Vols had made some mistakes and let UT Martin hang around for a while. They didn't.

"We obviously have a lot better players," Dooley said, "but we didn't mess it up. We played sound football, we protected the ball and, when we didn't get first downs, we played good field position. The defense was aggressive, we tackled well - all of the basics that you worry about the first game."

Tennessee didn't "mess it up" by any means. The Vols incurred just 25 yards in penalties and saw their No. 1 offense play turnover-free football. The only mishaps were a fumbled punt by David Oku and an interception by backup quarterback Tyler Bray.

"They played the way I expected them to play," Dooley said, "because we've been practicing that way."

Even taking into account that Martin is a Football Championship Subdivision team, Tennessee's running attack was impressive. Forty-three rushes netted 332 yards, an average of 7.7 yards per carry. Tauren Poole rushed 17 times for 110 yards, freshman Rajion Neal nine times for 79 yards and Oku 6 times for 77 yards.

"The backs ran good; the line blocked well," Dooley said. "They (Skyhawks) were packing 'em in, trying to stop the run. We did a nice job upfront and the runners ran hard. I think we just wore them down."

Tennessee drove to UTM's one-yard line on its opening possession but a false start penalty forced the Vols to settle for a 21-yard Daniel Lincoln field goal. Oku bolted 44 yards to cap a six-play 67-yard touchdown drive on possession No. 2, then Lincoln hit a 35-yard field goal at the end of possession No. 3, boosting the lead to 13-0.

"It was a good start; we got a good jump on 'em" Dooley said. "Then the second quarter we kind of went into a lull and kind of lost our rhythm offensively."

Tennessee's first three possessions of the second quarter produced nothing but Poole burst 24 yards for a touchdown with just 1:44 left in the period to provide a 20-0 halftime lead.

"We broke the run right before the half, and that helped," Dooley said. "I was real proud of how we came out the third quarter, too."

Tennessee dominated the third period, scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions. The first TD came on a 58-yard end-around by Denarius Moore. The second came on a 42-yard pass from Matt Simms to Moore and the third on a 14-yard Poole run.

Suddenly, the lead was 41-0. But Tennessee wasn't finished yet. Linebacker Austin Johnson tackled D.J. McNeill for a safety, bumping the lead to 43-0.

The Vol defense was at it again in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Safety Prentiss Waggner stepped in front of a quick out and rambled 54 yards to close the scoring.

Tennessee's dominance showed up in the final statistics. The Vols piled up 537 total yards to Martin's 142 and 23 first downs to Martin's 3. Tennessee also limited the visitors to just 2 of 17 on third-down conversions.

"It didn't surprise me that they played that way," Dooley said, "but we start big-boy ball next week."

The first "big boy" is Game 2 opponent Oregon, which comes to Knoxville off a 72-0 beat-down of New Mexico.


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