It wasn't always pretty, but Tennessee's 24-0 win over in-state Middle Tennessee State provided something we've been needing for an entire month -- a victory.
There were quality performances such as Eric Gordon's, JaRon Toney's, Austin Johnson's and Derrick Brodus's, but none of those guys got the top honors this week. Also, it wasn't the first time for the recipient of the Bless His Heart award, either. I know the suspense is killing you, so we'll get on with it.
Looked the Part: JUSTIN WORLEY
The true freshman from Rock Hill, S.C., needed to show us something. Heck, he probably needed to show himself something after jitters and ill-advised decisions led to a forgettable debut for the former Gatorade National Player of the Year against South Carolina. He provided. Worley finished 23-of-32 for 291 yards and a 47-yard touchdown pass on a nice post-pattern pass to Da'Rick Rogers. The throw may have been a split bit short, but it was still a heck of a pass. Perhaps most importantly, Worley had no turnovers and took just one sack. It was close to a perfect performance, even though he missed a couple of makeable passes. The competition ramps up considerably in Fayetteville this weekend.
Bless His Heart: TAUREN POOLE
It's time to move in a different direction. With three games left, it's possible UT may need Poole at some point the rest of the way, but it's hard to see what he provides when a true freshman and a redshirt freshman walk-on are out-performing him. That's exactly what happened with Marlin Lane (out of the Wildcat) and JaRon Toney playing much better than the man the Vols hoped would be their workhorse. Poole finished with 13 yards on 11 carries. Against the nation's 113-ranked rush defense. And that's with a long of 7 yards, meaning he gained 6 on his other 10 carries. Nobody is setting the world on fire in UT's rushing "attack" [what's the opposite of attack? Retreat? UT's rushing retreat then...] but when that's happening, go with the younger guys over the graduating senior.