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Vols Get Nearly Everything They Want Against the Wolfpack, 35-21


If you're a Vol fan, Tennessee's 35-21 victory over the NC State Wolfpack last night in the formerly accursed Georgia Dome could not have provided anything more. Anything you wanted, you got it. Anything at all.

Were you worried about the sudden absence of Da'Rick Rogers? Well, I have two initials for you: C.P. Wait, make that three: C.F.P., which works regardless of your preferred movie rating. Or you can go with C!P! Like I said, anything you want.

Were you concerned about the Vols' historically poor performance in Hell's Stinky Armpit? Well, apart from Dooley literally stumbling out of the tunnel, and apart from some other valiant attempts by whatever evil lurks in that awful place, we made our own destiny in the Georgia Dome this time.

How about Justin Hunter's knee? Never mind on that, either, because except for a few glitches here and there, the guy was not only the same ol' Hunter we remember, he was almost the same legendary creature we'd dreamed up and added to over the past 11 months.

Did you want a stellar passing game? How about 333 yards to 10 different players, two touchdowns, and no interceptions?

Did you yearn for a return to the good old days of UT running the football? Fine. The team ran 38 times for 213 yards and averaged 5 yards per carry, much of it attributable to the offensive line moving the line of scrimmage as much as the running back moving the ball.

Did you crave sacks and pressure defense and turnovers and a return to general havoc-wreaking for the defense? Well, we had sacks, and safeties, and knock downs, oh my. With four cherry picks on top, pretty please? Hey, have it your way.

Were you worried about Tyler Bray and the coaching staff insisting on testing what was widely believed to be the best secondary the team would face all year? Forget about it. The Vols repeatedly beat the Wolfpack's most dangerous player, David Amerson, deep. C.P. got behind him for a TD first, and then Zach Rogers not only got behind him by five yards, he then outran him the rest of the way to the end zone. And then C.P. weaved through the entire defense and got past Amerson again, while Justin Hunter overran him from behind to get the final block. so never you mind about secondaries, son. We got it.

Were you worried about James Stones' snaps? Tyler Bray's maturity? Michael Palardy's kicking? Don't fret none, Virginia, because the snaps were as unforgettable as they should be, Bray's decision-making was (mostly) spot-on, and except for a missed extra point that should probably be attributed to a bad snap and resulting bad hold, Palardy was 2-2 on field goals and had three touchbacks, a couple of them absolute boomers that would have been touchbacks even last year.

And it all came against what everyone believed is a very good team. Very good results against a very good team? Yeah, we got it.

Even better, there were enough glitches and errors and failures to finish to suggest that we're nowhere near the ceiling on this thing. False starts. An unnerving tendency to trade sure positive yards for a lottery ticket and a remote chance at more. An intermittent inability to finish the drive and convert short yardage situations.

We're only on the third story here, folks, and if it looks like the view from the penthouse it's only because it's been so long since we've seen the top of the trees. We have a long way to go, and we can't lose sight of that.

But for a night, anything we wanted, we got it.