JOE BIDDLE: Tennessee opens Butch Jones era pulverizing Peay - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Tennessee opens Butch Jones era pulverizing Peay

Posted: Updated: Sep 1, 2013 01:59 PM
Photo courtesy, Times Free Press Photo courtesy, Times Free Press
Photo, courtesy of Go Vols Extra Photo, courtesy of Go Vols Extra

Butch Ball got off to a rip-roaring start at Neyland Stadium Saturday.

He took his first Vol Walk and ran through the "T'' before his first game on Rocky Top.

"For me the greatest peace of mind I had was to see how proud (the players) were to show me the Vol walk, how proud they were to run through the "T'' and you could see that pride coming out of who we are,'' Jones said after the 45-0 shutout was in the books.

After the pregame program, the Vols ambushed Austin Peay, a Division I-AA program that was playing for what will be a huge financial gain for them.

Jones and his team wasted little time putting the scoreboard operator to work.

"I thought we came out and had a collective energy, generated some turnovers early. Once we established momentum, we never relinquished the momentum,'' Jones said.

On Tennessee's first possession, it marched 64 yards on just four plays to make it 7-0. The drive took all of 73 seconds.

They went up 14-0 on a 25-yard drive in three plays. It wiped another 51 seconds off the game clock.

It climbed to 21-0 after a 61-yard touchdown drive. Austin Peay's defense dug its heels in on this one. This time it took the Vols 2:27 to cross the goal line.

When quarterback Justin Worley hit Pig Howard with an11-yard touchdown pass, it completed a 49-yard drive in 2:14 and made it 28-0. Worley finished the first half with three TD passes.

You get the picture? Austin Peay was totally out-matched and offered little evidence of what this season holds in store once the Vols start playing SEC opponents.

I can report that Jones had his team prepared and they piled it on before a raucous crowd of 97,169. They looked sharp on both sides of the ball. Considering the competition, they had no excuse not to start the season with a rout that was 42-0 at the half. Austin Peay ventured past the 50-yard line only one time in the first half.

It was a pay-for-view televised game. No matter what the charge was, it was too much, even for the most rabid Big Orange fanatic.

Butch Jones went into the game having met every expectation from a fan base that suffered through the tortuous seasons under Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley.

Jones appears at this point to be the right man for this job. Despite having experienced offensive and defensive lines, they are lacking in depth and experience in too many positions to challenge for an SEC Championship Game appearance.

Fans must look at beating Austin Peay as a feel-good game. That and having a penalty-free and injury free game were the highlights. Trust me, every game won't look like this. But if Butch Ball can find a way to upset a Georgia, a Florida or a South Carolina, it will be real progress. Winning two of those three games will have fans screaming from the highest mountaintop.

It's dangerous to project how this team will fare the rest of the season because Austin Peay provided scant challenges.

One thing for sure – Butch Jones has the Big Orange Nation in the palms of his hands. They are ecstatic he is their coach. He talks their language and has been recruiting players other top-level SEC teams want.

It will take some time, although I get the feeling the program will be better than it ever got under Dooley, and in less time.

Jones is not going to rest on the opening game laurels. Western Kentucky is next.

"Coach Jones won't let anybody get too happy about this,'' senior noseguard Daniel Hood said. "He's already back there talking to us about Western Kentucky.''

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at


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