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Worley Sets The Tone for Volunteers
Sept. 1, 2014



The Vols' new rallying cry on defense rang true on Sunday night. Tennessee's D was a force in pressure situations.

UT held the Aggies to 3-14 on 3rd down, including 1-7 in the first half.

Tennessee also held strong on USU's lone 4th down attempt as Jordan Williams and the UT defensive line pushed back running back Joe Hill for a 1-yard loss near midfield.

"I think a lot of times it was third and long situations and we had a key fourth down stop early which really provided a momentum change," Butch Jones said. "So much about football is field position and hidden yardage. I thought we stayed ahead of the sticks defensively and put them in third and long situations."

One of the 3rd down stops nearly became six points for Tennessee, as Johnson returned a fourth quarter interception, the first of his career, to the USU 11. The INT set up the final Vol score of the night.

"That's what I wanted to do," Johnson said of nearly getting the score. "I had my mind set on the end zone, but I messed up and couldn't get there. I was disappointed about it, but it was a nice catch."

The efficiency on third down was a part of the total defensive effort that held Utah State to just 11 first downs and 244 total yards.

By Brian Rice
UTSports.com

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - When Justin Worley was named starting quarterback for Tennessee on Aug. 14, Butch Jones said that he had taken great strides from a season ago. On Sunday night, Worley showed everyone exactly what the coaches had seen in training camp.

Worley turned in the most complete performance of his career against Utah State, going 27-38 for 273 yards and three touchdowns in guiding Team 118 to 1-0.

"I thought Justin played a very productive football game," Jones said of Worley. "We played winning football at the quarterback position."

The 27 completions and 38 attempts were each career bests. His 273 yards were second only to the 291 he put up in the initial start of his Tennessee career against MTSU on Nov. 5, 2011.

"The game was moving slower than it used to," Worley said. "I didn't have the nerves that I've had in the past. It goes back to my confidence level. Confidence in these guys, confidence in our whole offensive scheme and everything."

It started on UT's second drive of the night. After a 12-yard completion to Ethan Wolf to kick off the series, Worley hit Josh Smith with a 38-yard strike to set up Alton "Pig" Howard's TD run for the game's first score.

A fumble recovery from Todd Kelly, Jr. on the ensuing kickoff gave UT the ball right back at the 12, and Worley needed just one play to cover those 12 yards with a TD pass to Brendan Downs.

The senior saved his best for the second half. Worley uncorked 13 consecutive completions covering the entire third quarter and the start of the fourth. Two of those went for touchdowns, a 14-yard score to Von Pearson and a 15-yard pass to Jalen Hurd. The 13 in a row put Worley fourth in the UT record book for most consecutive completions, passing Peyton Manning.

"I came off the field after Jalen's screen and said 'We've got some playmakers,' and we really do," Worley said. "We have playmakers across the board, from a tight end standpoint to receivers and running back. You can't focus on one guy. There are several guys that we can attack you with."

The weapons gave Worley the confidence to grow in his command of the offense, a quality Jones noticed early and often from his quarterback.

"Justin was calm and collected and he acted like he had been there before," Jones said. "He was kind of a calming presence on the sideline. I thought our receivers, for the most part, did a good job of catching the football. They made some really good catches to extend drives and we haven't had that in the past, so it was great to see as well."


 

 

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