Yes, the Tennessee Volunteers are 1-0. Yes, they won 45-0 and had a 42-0 lead at halftime in Week 1. Yes, they gained 30 first downs. Yes, they held their opponent to only 11 first downs.
The problem: that opponent was Austin Peay. After last season, Tennessee’s one-sided victory gave Vols fans plenty of reason for optimism, but it did come against a Football Championship Subdivision program that has lost 17 consecutive road games.
That being said, Butch Jones’ tenure in Rocky Top is off on the right foot. He already is making an impact in the stands. Jones’ debut had an announced attendance of 97,169. Tennessee drew 87,821 fans for its home opener against Georgia State last year, and had an average attendance of 89,965, its lowest since 1979.
But back to what happened on the field. Tennessee running back Rajion Neal rushed for 141 yards in the win, and Vols QB Justin Worley looked impressive, completing 11 of 13 passes for 104 yards and three touchdowns. At that touchdowns-to-completions rate, he will throw 60 touchdowns this season if he completes an average of 18 passes in 12 games.
Of course, that won’t happen. The road is about to get much tougher for Tennessee – five of its first eight games are against current Top 10 teams.
What to look for in Week 2: Will the Vols look as impressive against a much better opponent? Or will they become SEC victim no. 2 for Bobby Petrino and Western Kentucky?