No worries for Vols vs. UTM
Posted: Monday, September 6, 2010 11:17 am
“It was funny because (quarterback Matt Simms) said, ‘I was more nervous before my first junior college game than I was here.’ Then I said, ‘I was more nervous my first Louisiana Tech game.’ That’s called experience, I guess.”
The young, mostly inexperienced Vols got some much-needed experience with a 50-0 win over UT Martin on Saturday night, their first shutout since a 48-0 victory over Vanderbilt in 2003.
Sure it was against Tennessee’s first FCS opponent since facing The Citadel in 1983, but it gave the Vols a chance to play 12 true freshmen and most of their two-deep depth chart a week before facing No. 11 Oregon, who beat New Mexico 72-0 in its own season opener.
“(The Vols) played the way I expected them to play because we’d been practicing that way … but we start big-boy ball next week,” Dooley said.
Tauren Poole had been waiting all year to prove he’d been unfairly stuck behind Bryce Brown and David Oku on the Vols’ depth chart last season. He delivered, darting through holes, running around coverage and picking up 110 yards and touchdown runs of 24 and 14 yards in 17 carries before sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
“It felt good,” Poole said. “It was a long time coming. It was well deserved. It was necessary for me to show what I got to do. But, that’s just game one. I’ve got a long way to go to get where I need to be as a player. As a team we’ve got a long way to go. Now we’ve got to move on.”
Oku had his share of carries too and found some large holes for a 44-yard touchdown run with 5:00 left in the first quarter to give the Vols a 10-0 lead in the season opener for both teams.
Denarius Moore ran 58 yards for a touchdown and caught a 42-yard scoring pass from Matt Simms. Moore finished with 66 yards on four catches, and Gerald Jones had 86 yards on six catches before injuring his left hand.
Tennessee scored nearly every way it could. Austin Johnson tackled D.J. McNeil in the endzone for a safety.
Prentiss Wagner intercepted McKenzie product Derek Carr and ran 54 yards for a touchdown. Daniel Lincoln kicked field goals of 21 and 35 yards.
UT Martin’s inexperienced offense couldn’t find any rhythm, going the first quarter without a completed pass or first down while being flagged for delay of game four times.
By the end of the game, the Skyhawks had 142 yards on offense compared to Tennessee’s 537.
Carr finished 9-for-22 for 66 yards and threw two interceptions.
The Skyhawks were penalized 11 times for 83 yards.
“I knew the offense’s inexperience was going to be a problem,” UT Martin coach Jason Simpson said. “The penalties and the inexperience was a factor. It’s a new team.”
Tennessee wasn’t without its share of mistakes though.
Gerald Jones fumbled his first punt return of the game, and UT Martin’s Kendal Harper, a Trenton product, recovered on the Tennessee 36.
The Skyhawks couldn’t capitalize, punting four plays later after going only three yards.
Matt Simms, who completed 14 of 24 for 181 yards, overthrew Luke Stocker and Denarius Moore several times. There was a false start on the 1-yard line that likely cost a touchdown, and an illegal formation penalty forced Lincoln to redo a field goal attempt.
UT Martin didn’t fare quite as well as it did the last time it faced a Southeastern Conference team. The Skyhawks lost 37-20 at Auburn in 2008 after tying the Tigers at 20 in the third quarter.
“It got out of control at the end,” Harper said. “We didn’t play a great game, but we played a good one. WE have a lot we have to clean up and a lot of work to do.”