Vol Notebook: Game 9

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It's too bad that Reggie McKenzie, honored as Tennessee's Vol For Life Legend during Saturday's pre-game ceremonies, has no eligibility left. He's 49 years old now but he played linebacker from 1981-84, so he probably could have helped against Troy.

Incredibly, six of the top seven names on the Vols' post-game tackle chart belonged to defensive backs. Middle linebacker A.J. Johnson led the way with 13 stops. Next came a parade of defensive backs — safety Byron Moore (12), cornerback Jaron Toney (10), freshman safety LaDarrell McNeil (10), cornerback Prentiss Waggner (8), cornerback Justin Coleman (7) and cornerback Eric Gordon (5).

Like most defenses, Tennessee's is built on the linemen tying up blockers and freeing the linebackers to make the majority of the tackles each week. If defensive backs are making all of the tackles that means (A) the linemen aren't tying up blockers, (B) the linebackers aren't shedding blocks and making tackles or (C) both.

THIRD AND SUNSERI?

Tennessee seemingly gave up so many big plays on third down under former defensive coordinator John Chavis that cynical fans began referring to third-and-long as third-and-Chavis.

Still, Chavis probably never experienced third-down futility to the extent that current Vol defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri did Saturday against Troy. The Trojans converted just one of three third-down opportunities in the first quarter, that coming via penalty. Troy was 9 of 16 the rest of the game, however, including third-down gains of 40, 39, 38 and 37 yards.

Here's a recap:

Third-and-1: rush for 4 yards and first down

Third-and-10: incomplete pass

Third-and-12: pass complete for 37 yards and first down

Third-and-3: rush for 1 yard

Third-and-goal: rush for 1 yard and touchdown

Third-and-16: rush for 39 yards and first down

Third-and-2: rush for 3 yards and first down

Third-and-6: pass complete for 12 yards and first down

Third-and-8: pass complete for 40 yards and first down

Third-and-1: rush for 4 yards and first down

Third-and-8: incomplete pass

Third-and-15: pass complete for 38 yards and first down

Third-and-3: pass complete for 2 yards

Third-and-2: rush for minus-3 yards

Third-and-7: incomplete pass

Third-and-1: pass complete for 7 yards and first down

Third-and-7: incomplete pass

THE NUMBERS GAME

Head coach Derek Dooley has dropped 12 of his last 13 SEC games but has won his last 10 regular-season non-conference games.

The 103 combined points in Saturday's 55-48 defeat of Troy made it the highest-scoring game in Neyland Stadium history.

It was the second-most combined points in program history, ranking behind the 104 combined points posted in a 104-0 Volunteer victory over American University on Oct. 7, 1905.

The 103 combined points also represented the fourth-highest scoring non-overtime game in SEC history. The top three were 116 points (Texas A&M 59, Louisiana Tech 57 earlier this year), 108 points (Auburn 65, Arkansas 43 in 2010) and 104 points (South Carolina 65, Mississippi State 39 in 1995). Tennessee also was involved in the sixth-highest scoring game in SEC history (Florida 62, UT 37 in 1995) and the 11th-highest scoring game in league annals (Georgia 51, Tennessee 44 earlier this season).

Tennessee's 718 yards of total offense topped the previous program record of 695 in a 59-31 defeat of Kentucky on Nov. 22, 1997.

The 1,439 combined total yards obliterated the previous UT record of 1,329, set in that same 1997 Big Orange-Big Blue contest.

Troy's 721 yards was most ever by a Vol opponent, easily surpassing the 634 Kentucky piled up in that memorable '97 shootout.

Sophomore tailback Marlin Lane established career highs with 19 carries for 132 yards. His previous high of 15 carries came against Alabama in Game 7 and South Carolina in Game 8. His previous high of 75 net yards came in the 2012 opener versus North Carolina State.

Tennessee stands 69-17-3 all-time on Homecoming weekend. The Vols have won four consecutive Homecoming games and 27 of their last 29.

BLACK DAY FOR GRAY

Freshman cornerback Daniel Gray made his first career start a memorable one ... but not in a good way. He was flagged for pass interference on Troy's first touchdown drive, then flagged for a late hit on The Opening play of the second quarter. Gray was replaced by senior Prentiss Waggner after getting beat on a 51-yard touchdown pass that pulled the Trojans within 28-23 late in the second quarter. The rookie got another chance in the third quarter only to be burned on a 34-yard non-scoring pass.

Actually, Tennessee opened Game 9 with two first-time starters in the secondary. Former walk-on tailback Jaron Toney was on the field for the game's initial scrimmage play as the Vols came out in a dime package (six defensive backs). Toney fared a lot better than Gray, finishing with 10 stops, two pass break-ups and a tackle for a loss.

Sophomore tight end Brendan Downs made his second career start, getting the call ahead of senior Mychal Rivera. Downs previously started versus Buffalo in 2011.

MOVE OVER, PEYTON

Vol quarterback Tyler Bray threw for 530 yards, surpassing Peyton Manning's previous single-game record of 523 yards set in the afore-mentioned 1997 shootout with Kentucky. Bray's total of 530 yards stands as the program record for passing yards and total offense in a game.

Bray completed 29 of 47 passes with five touchdowns (tying his career high) and zero interceptions. He averaged a whopping 18.3 yards per completion.

ONE TERRIFIC TANDEM

Cordarrelle Patterson (219 yards on nine catches) and Justin Hunter (181 yards on nine catches) became the first Tennessee receiving tandem ever to combine for 400 yards in a single game.

Patterson had a long catch of 58 yards and one touchdown. Hunter had a long catch of 46 yards and three touchdowns.

VOLS GOING TO THE DOGS

Fans reluctant to fault the players or coaches for Tennessee's 4-5 overall record and 0-5 SEC mark this season might want to scapegoat Smokey IX. Counting Saturday's win, the Vols are just 61-50 under the watch of the latest in Tennessee's line of blue tick hound mascots. Conversely, his predecessor, Smokey VIII, presided over an imposing 91-22 record between 1995 and 2003.

Smokey X, who will take over in time for the 2013 Orange & White Game, made a brief appearance at Neyland Stadium during a first-quarter timeout on Saturday.

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