A Maxim-um Effort

Sep 7, 2013

The running game accounted for four of Tennessee's five offensive touchdowns against Western Kentucky, a ground game that would have also made the General proud.

The Vol Tandem of Marlin Lane and Rajion Neal combined for 171 yards and four touchdowns. Lane led the team with 97 yards, while Neal provided three of the scores. As a team, Tennessee totaled 240 yards on the ground.

"In this league, you have to be able to run the ball," Neal said. "That's something that Coach Jones wants to do and preaches to us to do. We felt it was coming and we were ready for the challenge."

Quarterback Justin Worley said the performance of the running backs lifted the whole offense and helped to set up plays like his touchdown toss to Brendan Downs.

"It takes a lot of pressure off me, knowing that on a third-and-four we could hand the ball off and still get a first down," Worley said. "It opens up our play-action game. In the past two games, I had several touchdown passes off of play-action that's been set up by our running game."

By Brian Rice

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The second of General Neyland's Seven Maxims reads "Play for and make the breaks, and when one comes your way, score." Tennessee's second game of the season, particularly the opening quarter, was one the General would have been proud of.

After Western Kentucky marched down the field on its opening possession to take an early 3-0 lead and Tennessee's first drive ended in a punt, the UT defense was looking for one of those breaks. Justin Coleman made the break and took it the other way.

"I mean it was just a play that created great energy and a huge momentum swing," Coleman said. "The pick six, it was just something that I guess you could say the football gods offered, and because those who, basically work hard, will gain rewards from it."

The 23-yard interception of the Brandon Doughty pass gave Tennessee a lead it would not relinquish, but the UT defense wasn't close to being done in the break-making department.

After a 3-yard run to start the next WKU possession, Doughty fired a pass to his left, and freshman Cameron Sutton was there to step in front of it for his first-career interception and, 36 yards later, his first-career touchdown.

Dontavis Sapp forced and recovered a fumble on the next play from scrimmage, leading to a Michael Palardy field goal and a 17-3 UT lead. On WKU's very next play, another fumble, forced by Brent Brewer and recovered by Max Arnold. The Tennessee offense needed just two Rajion Neal runs covering 12 yards to go up 24-3. A play later, it was Brewer again, as the linebacker stretched out to intercept a pass just before it hit the turf, giving UT possession again with 0:17 left in the opening quarter. UT needed just three plays before Marlin Lane bowled into the end zone for another touchdown and a 31-3 lead.

In six plays, the Tennessee defense forced five turnovers, leading directly to 31 points and a ton of confidence for a defensive unit that is still working to show off its improvement from a season ago.

"It was a ton," Head Coach Butch Jones said when asked if the defensive performance was a boost in confidence for the entire team. "We have to fly around. We have to get eleven hats to the football. We have to swarm."

Brian Randolph, meanwhile, made preventing Hilltopper touchdown passes his personal mission. Randolph intercepted two passes, both in the end zone, to prevent WKU scores.

"I started feeling a little bit left out," said Randolph of the play of his teammates in the defensive backfield. "I saw my roommate, Justin Coleman get one there, my little brother Cameron Sutton - I just feel like I had to join in."

Jones quoted the General's Maxim as he opened his postgame press conference. He was then asked if he had ever been a part of a defensive streak like the one his team turned out on Saturday.

"I've never ever been associated with anything like that," he said with a smile.





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