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Tennessee Post/Advance Scouting, Week 1

Games happened yesterday. In lieu of just focusing on Tennessee, let's look around Tennessee's schedule a bit as well.

Great, kids. Don't get cocky.
Great, kids. Don't get cocky.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

1. Yes, Tennessee won - 45-0 if you've been in a cave - and it was easy as you'd like. This was, for all intents and purposes, a name-your-score affair, which makes sense when you're a) bigger, b) faster, and c) better than your opponent. When you score 42 points on your first six drives (45 on your first seven), that much should be obvious. You'd be forgiven for concern by proxy after the carnage FCS laid on FBS this week, with Towson, North Dakota St., Eastern Washington, Eastern Illinois, Northern Iowa, and McNeese State winning against their opponents - the last of which was a name-your-score affair against South Florida. Austin Peay, fortunately, wasn't in that category of opponent.

2. The usual caveats - the ones we talked about on Thursday - apply to reading into this game. Worley looked good enough (of course), the offensive line looked dominant (of course), the running game looked solid, the defense looked great (yeah, sure), and even special teams was fine. Of course, we'd expect all of this, so it's less about what we saw on the field and more about what we didn't see.

3. We didn't see big plays by Austin Peay (that moderately absurd 35-yard Darryl Clack catch excepted); we certainly didn't see any while it mattered. We didn't see a clear #1 receiver - 15 catches in 21 targets combined to 10 receivers; only MarQuez North, Pig Howard, and Johnathan Johnson pulled down more than one catch, and the less we talk about yards per attempt, the better. We didn't see a third QB; the hierarchy looks like Worley, then Nathan Peterman, then who knows. If Josh Dobbs or Riley Ferguson couldn't get garbage time snaps against Austin Peay, they don't know the offense and/or there's something else major holding them back.

4. Some of these may matter - remember, the big plays the Sunseri defense gave up against Georgia State was the canary in the "oops, there's another big play" coal mine - but others may not. If you don't feel any better about the passing game after Saturday, I don't blame you. Worley wasn't asked to do much, but we don't know if that was by gameplan or by design - if it was by gameplan, that's fine. If it was by design, that's not ideal. We'll know more next week.

5. That being said, we did see some tempo adjustments, we saw some legitimate zone reads, we may or may not have seen some badly run inverted veer plays on the part of Worley - I'm not sure if he meant to do that or just totally went the wrong way both times, but it looked ugly regardless - and we saw some RB depth. Raijon Neal, Marlin Lane, and possibly even Deanthonie Summerhill look like they'll anchor a good running game. We did see the defense swarm and stay active for most of the game. These are good things - how they're projected onto the rest of the schedule is completely up to interpretation, though.

6. So that was Neyland Stadium. What happened outside of Neyland Stadium on Saturday?

  • Western Kentucky had a "we can't really tell how good your are" win against Kentucky. On one hand, they won - comfortably, I might add - and showed a strong, balanced offense. On the other hand, so did Kentucky, which means we need to ask questions about both their defenses as well. We'll know more after next Saturday, of course; the key point is the WKU combo of Antonio Andrews and Leon Allen combined for 30 carries, 191 yards, and 2 TDs (Keshawn Simpson had another 2 TDs as well), and Kentucky is so far down the schedule - and was so bad last year - that this will either be an aberration or the norm for the Wildcats come November.
  • Oregon named their score of 66-3 against Nicholls State. Nobody was surprised. Incidentally, this wasn't the biggest FCS beatdown of the day - that fell to Baylor's 69-3 demolition of Wofford Georgia Tech's 70-0 win over Elon (brb, patting myself on the back for that Baylor win). If you'd like to read into things, Tennessee's win was the fourth-biggest margin of victory against a FCS team (I think), narrowly eking out Missouri's 58-14 win over Murray State. However, it should be noted that unlike the other three FBS teams in this bullet point, Missouri actually trailed during their game.
  • Florida's offense still looks like a claw hammer applied to the forehead. Whose forehead and which side? Doesn't matter. Of course, 24-6 is both a comfortable win and understating their dominance, but you knew this; you probably also knew they had a couple drives killed due to bad penalties, they extended a couple Toledo drives due to bad penalties, and controlled the game in the fourth quarter and came away with no points (19 plays, 107 yards, 11:01 TOP).
  • Yes, Alabama won 35-10 against Virginia Tech, which looks typical enough. This one's worth going into the box score, though: 21 points for Bama came on either defensive or special teams TDs, and the offense legitimately struggled. No, really - 212 yards total, AJ McCarron threw a pick, and TJ Yeldon was the only guy who looked decent. Of course, you take away the 77-yard Trey Edmunds TD and the defense held VT to 135 yards, so same as it ever was (applies to both VT and Bama, to be fair, although I'm - I think - impressed by VT's defensive effort).
  • Yes, Georgia scored 35 points and the offense looked strong against Clemson. However: Clemson's D adjusted well after the first 21 points and they let Clemson back into the game after a bloody 97-yard TD drive. If you want to credit UGA for scoring 35, you have to ding them for committing three turnovers in a row and discredit the 5th TD slightly (since it was a 10-point game by that point). Todd Gurley looked really good, though.
  • Auburn beat Washington State by 7 in a game that served to remind everyone how far Gus Malzahn has to go (and how much further Mike Leach has to go, while we're at it). A Tre Mason 100-yard kickoff return was the final margin here. Auburn still has no passing game to speak of - 10/19 for Nick Wallace (99 yards) is terrible against Wazzu, at least if you're harboring hopes that you can be competitive in the SEC West this year. (Of course, Mississippi State looked utterly anemic, so it could be worse. I have no idea what you do if you're Mississippi State staring down the rest of this division; all the answers look unpleasant.)
What did we miss? What did you see?