Sept. 28, 2013
TENNESSEE TIDBITS Tennessee's all-time record now stands at 802-356-53.
UT is 9-0 all-time vs. teams from the Sun Belt Conference.
On this date, Tennessee won its fourth straight and owns a 9-3 mark.
The Vols have been victorious in 11-consecutive home games vs. non-conference opponents since starting that streak vs. UAB in 2010.
Tennessee has won 15 in a row vs. opponents from non-BCS conferences since the 2009 season opener vs. Western Kentucky.
UT is 9-3 in its last 12 games at Neyland Stadium since Nov. 5, 2011.
Butch Jones is now 3-2 at Tennessee and owns a career record of 53-29.
Tennessee is 3-2 in coin tosses this season after winning today's flip.
UT is 2-2 when winning the coin flip and 1-0 when losing the toss.
Today's attendance was 87,266, moving the season average to 90,406.
TENNESSEE CAPTAINS #1 Michael Palardy, #41 Dontavis Sapp, #45 A.J. Johnson and #72 Zach Fulton.
VFL LEGEND OF THE GAME Today's Vol For Life Legends of the Game were Jeremaine Copeland, a standout receiver from 1995-98, and Mike "Stop" Cofer, a defensive end from 1979-82.
Copeland, from nearby Harriman, Tenn., had 103 catches for 1,361 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Vols and went on to a successful career in the Canadian Football League. Playing for Montreal, Calgary and Toronto, he amassed 10,014 receiving yards and 75 TDs on 622 catches. He currently is wide receivers coach for the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Cofer, a native of Knoxville, was a four-year letterwinner and team captain in 1982. During his time with the Vols, he recorded 237 tackles, five sacks and nine forced fumbles before going on to a 10-year NFL career. Playing for the Detroit Lions, Cofer earned Pro Bowl honors in 1988 and racked up 62.5 sacks and 10 fumble recoveries during his pro tenure.
FOR STARTERS Devaun Swafford got the start at nickel for the Vols, making him the fourth true freshman to earn a starting nod.
The other rookies to get starts thus far are Marquez North, Josh Smith and Cameron Sutton.
TERRIFIC AT TAKEAWAYS Entering the game, Tennessee had the second-highest turnovers forced total in the FBS at 12, ranking behind the 13 generated by Maryland and North Texas.
After picking off three passes vs. South Alabama, Tennessee now has forced 15 turnovers in five games.
Entering the game, Virginia Tech was the FBS leader in interceptions with 11.
After the three picks vs. the Jaguars today, the Vols now have 11 interceptions thus far in 2013.
Sophomore free safety LaDarrell McNeil grabbed his first career interception, returning an errant USA pass 16 yards in the first quarter and setting Tennessee up for 40-yard Michael Palardy field goal.
Senior linebacker Brent Brewer added an interception in the third quarter, his second this season and the second of his career.
Redshirt sophomore strong safety Brian Randolph came up with the biggest pick of the day for the Big Orange with 1:51 remaining in the game, helping Tennessee thwart a potential game-tying or winning scoring drive by South Alabama.
Randolph halted the threat with an INT in the end zone, his third career pick with all of them coming this season and taking place in the end zone.
BUTCH BALL Since 2011, Butch Jones-coached teams have forced 76 turnovers, ranking Jones first nationally among head coaches from BCS conferences during that time. Tennessee recorded a first-half interception (by LaDarrell McNeil) and second-half INTs (by Brent Brewer and Brian Randolph) vs. South Alabama.
AND WHEN ONE COMES YOUR WAY... Tennessee entered the game averaging 11.25 points per game off turnovers (either on the play or subsequent possession), the best rate in the SEC and fifth nationally.
The Vols turned LaDarrell McNeil's first quarter interception into three points via a 40-yard Michael Palardy field goal.
BRICK-BY-BRICK FOR THE OFFENSE Josh Smith hauled in his first career TD pass in the second quarter, catching a 29-yarder from Justin Worley.
Marlin Lane's 54-yard run in the first quarter, the longest of his career, was the longest carry by a Vols' running back since Tauren Poole went 59 yards for a TD vs. Alabama on Oct. 23, 2010.
Rajion Neal had a 53-yard burst out of the backfield in the second quarter, which was the longest of his career.
Marlin Lane extended the ball over the goalline while landing on his back, getting credit (after a review from the replay booth) for a two-yard TD run. It was his fourth rushing score of the season and the eighth of his career.
A.J. Branisel recorded his second career catch and first career TD as a Vol, snagging a two-yard toss from Justin Worley in the first quarter.
Branisel and Smith became the third and fourth true freshmen to hit paydirt in 2013, following in the footsteps of Cameron Sutton and Devaun Swafford, who each returned interceptions for scores.
The last time Tennessee had two true freshmen with touchdown receptions was on Nov. 6, 2010, when Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers accomplished that feat.
RIDING THE RUSHING GAME Tennessee rushed for 188 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in the first half and finished the game with 278 yards and two TDs on 37 carries.
Butch Jones' record when his teams rush for 150 yards in a game improved to 40-8 (3-1 at UT) while the numbers are 26-2 (3-0) for 200 and 16-1 (3-0) for 250.
After tallying 102 yards on 13 carries in the first half, Rajion Neal finished with a career-high 169 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries with a long of 53.
Neal's effort was the highest individual rushing total since Montario Hardesty piled up 179 yards vs. Kentucky in 2009.
Combined with 14 yards on three receptions, Neal accumulated a career-best 183 all-purpose yards
Neal recorded his second 100-yard rushing game of the season and the fourth of his career.
He also tied his high for rushing TDs in a season with five and now has 12 for his career.
Marlin Lane carried for 66 yards and a TD on only five carries.
Rushes of 54 yards by Lane and 53 by Neal marked the first time the Vols had two carries of 50+ yards in the same game since Cedric Houston notched carries of 54 and 65 at South Carolina on Oct. 30, 2004.
The last time two different Vols had rushes of 50 or more yards in one game came on Nov. 18, 2000 vs. Kentucky when Travis Stephens had a carry for 80 and Travis Henry toted one for a 53-yard gain.
REVERSALS OF FORTUNE After the first quarter, South Alabama had outgained Tennessee in total yardage, 132-109. USA actually won the yardage race in three of four periods.
At the end of 60 minutes, though, the Vols had the upper hand, 482-412.
The Vols dominated the yardage battle in the second stanza, outgaining USA, 229-19, to take a 24-7 lead into the locker room.
In the third period, the Jaguars regained control, taking a 133-79 advantage in total yardage.
The fourth quarter yardage battle belonged to the Jags once again, 128-65.
WORLEY UNDER CENTER Junior quarterback Justin Worley returned to the starting lineup, getting his fourth start this season and seventh in his career.
Worley had season highs for attempts (36), completions (20) and yards (204) vs. South Alabama.
His total for attempts also was a career high, while the number of completions ranked second behind his effort vs. Middle Tennessee in 2011 (23-32, 291). His yardage total was third behind MTSU and Arkansas (208 in 2011).
Worley threw two TD passes to run his season total to eight and his career tally to nine.
Worley had a two-yard TD pass to freshman tight end A.J. Branisel in first quarter.
He added a 29-yard toss to freshman receiver Josh Smith in the second stanza.
Worley also threw three interceptions on the afternoon.
DEFENSIVELY SPEAKING Freshman cornerback Cameron Sutton broke up a career-high three passes and was in on seven stops, including one for a loss of five yards.
Redshirt freshman strong safety Brian Randolph was in on a career-high-tying 12 tackles and had a game-saving interception in the end zone with 1:51 remaining in the contest.
It marked Randolph's second-straight game with double figures in tackles and his third overall. Randolph posted 11 stops vs. Fla. last week and had 12 vs. Kentucky on Nov. 26, 2011.
Senior defensive end Corey Miller came up with Tennessee's only sack of the day, giving him a career season-best of two in 2013. He posted single sacks in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Junior linebacker A.J. Johnson and redshirt junior defensive back JaRon Toney recorded eight tackles apiece. It was a season high for Toney.
With five assisted tackles vs. South Alabama, Johnson moved out of a tie with Steve Poole (131, 1973-75) into seventh on UT's all-time assisted tackles list with 136. He is two shy of catching John Wagster (138, 1970-72).
Tennessee finished the day with only one sack, but the Vols had nine quarterback hurries, with Brent Brewer and Dontavis Sapp leading the way with two each.
PALARDY HANDLING ALL OF THE CHORES Michael Palardy continues to handle all of Tennessee's punting and kicking chores.
Palardy boomed a 50-yard first-quarter punt that UT covered and brought the returner down at the 15.
He added a 51-yard punt in the third frame and had a punt go out inside the 20 in the fourth quarter.
Palardy now has five punts of 50 yards or more and eight downed inside the 20 this season.
The senior kicked a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter and missed a 52-yarder in the fourth and now is 4 of 5 on the season and 27 of 38 in his career.
Palardy stands at 4 of 10 in his career on field goal tries of 40 or more yards and is 2 of 3 this season.
In PATs, Palardy was 4 of 4 on the day, improving to 21 of 21 this season and 96 of 101 for his career.
Palardy registered four touchbacks on kickoffs vs. South Alabama.
WHAT ARE THOSE GREEN PATCHES? Tennessee's coaches wore green patches on their polo shirts at Saturday's game, commemorating their repeat participation in the annual Coach To Cure MD weekend.
The initiative is part of the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy effort in bringing awareness about Duchenne disease and "Leading The Fight To End Duchenne."