Be sure to check back to see what the IT staff has to say about the Tennessee game every Saturday this fall.
Randy Moore's thoughts
Like Tyler Bray, I've stopped being surprised by anything Justin Hunter and Da' Rick Rogers do. These guys are dynamic individually and virtually unstoppable in tandem. Each made a spectacular catch vs. Cincinnati and each showed remarkable running ability after the catch. Vol fans should enjoy 'em while you can because I suspect both will be playing on Sundays in 2013. Tennessee's running game looked a bit better, even though the 126 net yards isn't especially impressive. Tauren Poole got 101 yards but backups Marlin Lane (eight carries, 16 yards) and Rajion Neal (10 yards on three carries) coughed up a fumble each. Tight ends Mychal Rivera (six catches, 54 yards) and Brendan Downs (2-32) impressed me, and both should have a lot more opportunities as opponents focus greater attention on Hunter and Rogers.
Defensively, I thought Tennessee looked like a bad junior high team in the first quarter, as Cincinnati gashed the Vols for two 80-yard touchdown drives that required just eight total plays. The Bearcats continued moving the ball on Tennessee all game but the Big Orange was tremendous in short-yardage situations. The two fourth-and-one stops near midfield were game-changers, and forcing Cincinnati to settle for a field goal when the Bearcats had a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line in the third quarter sealed the win in my opinion.
The kicking game was just OK. Michael Palardy's onsides kick was a thing of beauty. Johnny Majors used to call that the "middle dribble" when Fuad Reveiz did it but he never executed that kick better than Palardy did today. Palardy's miss of a 43-yard field goal is a concern, especially since he has yet to hit a big kick in a clutch situation. I keep hearing about Matt Darr's "big leg" but I have yet to see it.
Defense: F (first quarter), C (final three quarters)
Special teams: C
Danny Parker's thoughts
Less than nine minutes into this non-conference affair it looked like arena football made its way to Neyland Stadium as Cincinnati and Tennessee combined for 28 points.
The skies continued to part for the Volunteers' passing attack with quarterback Tyler Bray throwing for a career-high 405 yards.
While Bray to Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers continues to look professional grade (10 for 13 third-down conversions), what impressed me was the passion in which running back Tauren Poole carried the ball over the final three quarters as the senior wound up with 107 yards on 21 carries. Not mind-blowing numbers but there were some hard-fought yards in there.
After asking all week about pass rush against a Bearcat offense that gets rid of the ball quick, the Tennessee defensive line probably had its best performance in two seasons in terms of putting pressure on the quarterback.
While beating a team that went 4-8 last season isn't a signature win, Cincinnati is just a year removed from a Big East Conference championship and a Sugar Bowl berth.
The Vols really couldn't have asked for a better showing heading into Florida week. This effort should give the Gators something to think about in spite of their recent success in the rivalry.
Special teams: B-
Chris Price's thoughts
Today's game with Cincinnati showed a vast improvement over Game 1. The running game showed a lot more promise. Tauren Poole struggled early, but showed he could handle the load after Marlin Lane fumbled early.
Justin Hunter is possibly the best wide receiver in the Southeastern Conference. Da'Rick Rogers would be a star on any other team in the country, but he is almost overshadowed by what Hunter can do.
Tyler Bray is showing that he is an elite quarterback that can manage a football game. The real test will come in big-time SEC play next week, but thus far he has been nearly flawless.
The onside kick in the first quarter was totally out of character for Derek Dooley, but Palardy executed it to perfection. He did miss a field goal and Matt Darr shanked a punt, but overall the special teams were above average.
Special Teams: A-
Josh Woodward's thoughts
What can I say? Tennessee fooled me on this one. I thought it would be a much closer contest.
Tyler Bray has looked like a Heisman candidate these first two games; he hasn't made the mistakes you see from a sophomore.
Offensively the Vols looked outstanding, Bray is seeing the field well and the offensive line is giving him plenty of time. Tauren Poole looked to run with determination and hit the hole hard. Mychal Rivera got involved in the offense and had six catches; he was hard for the Bearcats to bring down.
Defensively, if it wasn't for the missed tackle and and a phantom pass interference this game would have been a bigger blowout. Curt Maggitt was more active in the game and played a lot at defensive end. Jacques Smith has a motor that I haven't seen at Tennessee in awhile.
The Vols keep improving and they will have a chance to beat Florida. The only miscue on special teams was Michael Palardy's missed field goal, other than that I thought they were great. I liked the onside kick that Dooley called and really thought it changed the game's momentum. Also Palardy's kicks were to the end zone.
Special Teams: B (would have been an A if not for the missed field goal)