It took about nine months for Tennessee fans to have a chance to rinse away the putrid taste of bluegrass – acquired, of course, at Commonwealth Stadium last November when a limp Vols team handed Kentucky their first series victory in 26 years.
Last night against N.C. State UT made amends for that debacle by scoring five times as many points and totaling twice the total yardage in their 35-21 resounding victory over the Wolfpack.
Two developments stand out more than the others:
First, the running game had virtually nowhere to go but up after last season's ground inadequacies.
Last night the Vols ran for 191 yards, led by Marlin Lane with 75 yards on only nine carries. Starting RB Rajion Neal looked elusive at times, but scrambled needlessly at others. Neal ended the game with only 53 yards on 22 attempts.
Cordarelle Patterson also showed some versatility on the ground gaining 72 rushing yards on a couple of end-around plays.
Da’ Rick who? Patterson, the JC transfer from Hutchison(KS) Community College erased all memories of the dismissed Da’ Rick Rogers by catching six passes for 93 yards and a TD. He was a mystery man coming in to the game, but soon displayed to all observers that he’s a sure-handed natural at the position.
At 6-foot-3 Patterson will present some matchup problems for defenses, especially with another tree, 6-foot-4 Justin Hunter, lined up on the other side.
As Derek Dooley said at his press conference, “It’s just one game”, but it went a long ways toward healing the wounds of last November. We’ll know a whole lot more about the potential of this team when a decent Florida team comes to town in two weeks.
Next up: Georgia State, Saturday September 8, 2012 on Pay-Per-View.