Oct. 15, 2012
By Brian Rice UTSports.com
First Down: 15 - Seconds it took for Cordarrelle Patterson to cover 98 Yards
Watching the things that Cordarrelle Patterson can do with the football in his hands never gets old for Tennessee fans, and he put his special skills on full display Saturday night in Starkville. After Mississippi State took a 17-7 lead :43 into the second quarter, Patterson took the ensuing kickoff at the 2-yard line. The next fifteen seconds were a thing of beauty. Patterson made cuts at the UT 20 and 30-yard lines that created a lane for him to burst forward. He cut again through a pair of defenders as he crossed midfield and headed up the sideline for a 98-yard kick return for a touchdown.
MSU players came close, but Patterson went 98 yards in :15 without being touched by another player.
If you felt like it had been a long time since a Vol had taken a kickoff to the house, you were right. Bret Smith returned a South Carolina onside kick 44 yards in 2004, but the last conventional kickoff returned for a touchdown was a 2002, an 82-yard runback from Mark Jones against Alabama.
The 98 yards covered on the return marked a tie for the fifth-longest kick return in UT history and was the longest since Leonard Scott covered 100 yards against Georgia in 1999.
Second Down: 21 - A.J. Johnson Tackles
A.J. Johnson may have had his consecutive games with a touchdown streak ended at three, but the sophomore made his presence felt with 21 tackles on the night, good for a new career-high. The number was good for the most total tackles since Keith Delong had 23 total stops against Alabama in 1988. The record for total tackles belongs to Tom Fisher, who had 28 stops against Auburn in 1964.
Johnson shattered the Tennessee record for assists with 17. The previous high was 13, a total that had been reached on four occasions, most recently by Lavoisier Fisher at Auburn in 1984.
The 21 tackles gives Johnson 63 on the season, a 10.5 tackle per game average, good for 11th in the country and second in the Southeastern Conference.
Third Down: Quick Hits
213 - Rushing yards for Tennessee, the second 200+ yard rushing game this season, after having zero in 2011. The performance marked the first time UT had rushed for 200 yards in an SEC game since the 2009 team ran for 200+ yards in back-to-back weeks against Vanderbilt (201) and Kentucky (222).
Each of those 2009 games featured a 175+-yard performance from Montario Hardesty. No Vol rushed for more than 60 yards on Saturday and the top two rushers on the team entering the game, Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane, left the game with injuries, Lane in the first half and Neal on the first series of the second half. Devrin Young led Tennessee with 58 yards on 13 carries.
58 - Plays run by Tennessee, a season low. The previous low was 71 against Georgia State. The Vols entered the game averaging 79.2 plays per game.
6 - Games Tennessee has led this season. Tennessee trailed at the half for the first time in 2012 on Saturday, but led 7-3 after each team's opening possession.
0 - Points surrendered by the Tennessee defense in the third quarter. The Vols have held four of six opponents this season (NC State, Georgia State, Akron, Mississippi State) scoreless in the third quarter, while scoring 40 third-quarter points in those games.
0 - First downs given up by the UT defense in the third quarter.
2 - Sacks by the Tennessee defense. The Bulldogs had given up just four sacks on the season heading into the matchup with UT.
54 - Yards covered on a 4th quarter punt by Michael Palardy, a career-long.
1 - True freshmen to start a game for Tennessee in 2012, after LaDarrell McNeil earned the initial start of his career against MSU. In 2011, seven freshmen started a total of 39 games last year, including at least one in each game.
Fourth Down: The Third Saturday in October
820, 797 - All-time wins for Alabama and Tennessee, respectively, the two winningest programs in SEC history. Both are among the top-10 nationally in all-time victories.
2 - Wins in Tennessee history against top-ranked teams. The most recent win over a #1 team came by an unranked Volunteer squad over Auburn in 1985.
3 - Times Alabama has been ranked #1 for the Tennessee game, in 1979, 1980 and 2009.
5 - Consecutive victories for Alabama in the series, the longest streak for the Tide since winning seven in a row from 1986-1992. The Volunteers last defeated the Tide in 2006, a 16-13 win in Knoxville.