Hot or Cold: Tennessee is off to an impressive start
Checking in on the early-season temperatures in Knoxville, Tenn. …
Justin Worley has already looked more impressive through two games than his entire first three years in Knoxville. Worley has 520 yards and five touchdowns on 49-of-76 passing. He currently holds a passer rating of 141.02 through two games and is averaging 260 yards per game. Guiding the offense, Worley has helped the Vols score a combined 72 points in their first two contests. The senior has shown poise and confidence, something he lacked during his first three inconsistent seasons at Tennessee. The pressure is on Worley to continue his newfound success moving forward as the Vols enter a tough stretch of schedule traveling to Oklahoma (9/6) and Georgia (9/20) before hosting Florida (9/27) at Neyland Stadium.
Marquez North had a forgettable season debut against Utah State with 38 yards and four receptions. The Vols’ No. 1 receiver saw a lack of targets as Tennessee spread the ball to 11 different wideouts, seemingly as an open audition for its depth chart. But that all changed Saturday as North enjoyed a breakout performance of 68 yards and two touchdowns on four catches, including several big highlight plays. North has yet to break 100 yards in a single game, however, will likely see an even larger role in the pass attack in the absence of No. 2 option Von Pearson. Facing a tough Oklahoma defense, he will be the most reliable option for quarterback Justin Worley.
Tennessee has yet to name an official starting kicker. The Vols’ official two-deep depth chart lists sophomore George Bullock or Aaron Medley as the starter for Saturday’s game at Oklahoma. Medley has gone 1-for-2 in both games for Tennessee, missing on seemingly easy makes for a Division-1 kicker. Bullock has handled kickoff duties and has yet to make a single field goal attempt. So far, Medley’s kicking woes haven’t hindered Tennessee in big blowout wins. However, as they approach a tough schedule, the Vols will need a reliable option at kicker in close games.
Tennessee’s ability to avoid injuries. In Week 1, the Vols lost starting offensive tackle Jacob Gilliam for the remainder of the season. In Week 2, starting wide receiver Von Pearson went down with a high ankle sprain in the second quarter, while tight end Ethan Wolf suffered a knee bruise in the third. With a young team and a depleted depth chart, staying healthy is a major concern for Tennessee. As they enter games against national contenders and SEC powerhouses, the Vols will need to be at 100 percent just to see a competitive showing.