Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Last updated 11/6/11
By DANNY PARKERFor FoxSportsTennessee.com KNOXVILLE, Tenn. Tennessee got back to its winning November ways, getting a pair of rushing touchdowns from Tauren Poole to defeat Middle Tennessee 24-0 on Saturday night at Neyland Stadium. The Volunteers are just 4-5, but they did finish their non-conference schedule undefeated for the first time since 2006 and have lost just 12 regular-season games in the calendar's final two months since 1990. Here's a look at what stood out n the shutout for the Big Orange: 1. When all else fails, there's always the fraternity house. Things got a little hairy for Tennessee in pregame as place-kicker Michael Palardy couldn't play because of injury. Then, backup Chip Rhome came up lame as well, creating some temporary havoc as a call had to be made to Maryville, Tenn., to get third-stringer Derrick Brodus to the stadium and in uniform ASAP. Brodus answered the call, making all three extra points, handling kickoff duties and booting a 21-yard field goal at the end of the first half. "(Rhome) went out there like the kickers do before pregame and they all come back in a panic," coach Derek Dooley said. "I said Let's get an APB out on Brodus.' It's a good thing he wasn't having too much fun on a Saturday afternoon. I told the coaches, 'Hey, an intoxicated Brodus is better than nobody. Get him. Just get him here. Give him a breathalyzer.' Fortunately he didn't do anything bad." 2. The passing game took a step forward. After going 17 consecutive quarters without a passing touchdown, the Vols took care of that stat with 2:24 to go in the first quarter against the Blue Raiders when Da'Rick Rogers went over the top for a 47-yard TD from Justin Worley. The duo was tough for the Blue Raiders to contain as Rogers caught nine balls for 137 yards. Worley finished 23-of-32 passing for 291 yards and no turnovers. He was sacked just once. "(Tennessee quarterbacks) coach (Darin) Hinshaw always stresses for me to play at the speed of the game in practice," Worley said. "The biggest adjustment for me has been to get my feet faster, getting my reads quicker and not trying to force the ball on check downs. Grasping the speed of the game and going through reads like we always should have also been big adjustments for me. I have just had to come in and work on that." 3. The running game continues to struggle. While the Vols were able to dominate time of possession (39:14 to 20:46) and keep their defense off the field, it wasn't due to a dominant ground attack. Redshirt freshman and walk-on Jaron Toney scrapped some rust off and carried the ball 19 times but netted just 52 yards. Senior starter Tauren Poole had 11 carries for 13 yards. "We knew we had to stop the run to have a chance and I thought our defense and our defensive coaches really did a nice job," Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said. "I thought our players played well. I thought they tackled good. We had a lot of people in the box. We went man coverage some in the secondary, but we tried to overload the box. 4. An underclassmen-laden defense showed more signs of improvement. Outside linebacker Curt Maggitt got healthy and cornerback Justin Coleman worked his way back with quality practice reps to join outside linebacker A.J. Johnson and strong safety Brian Randolph as true freshmen that started for the Tennessee defense. The unit forced Middle Tennessee into two interceptions and two fumbles (one recovered) en route to the first shutout of the season. Dooley gave the credit to his assistant coaches: "We were never misaligned and it allowed our players to play. We got better players. When you have better players, line up right and play hard and we win the game. ... I thought everybody played well. When you pitch a shutout in today's game, it is great. I don't care who you play. They were averaging over 400 yards and 30 points a game so it's good." 5. Just what the doctor ordered. Dooley and his young team must build momentum heading into their final chance to get a true upset victory in 2011 as a road trip to Arkansas is next on the agenda. They accomplished that by jumping all over the Blue Raiders early and never allowed the Murfreesboro bunch in the game. "It is good to get a win," Dooley said. "It has been a long time, so I thought the team came out in the first half. I felt like we had real good energy and executed really well in all three phases. It was good. And in the second half we just tried to shrink the game and wanted to try to run the ball a little bit better." The Razorbacks' 44-28 win over South Carolina on Saturday means that Tennessee will face a team with either zero or just one loss for the fourth time in five weeks. Just because the calendar flipped doesn't mean the schedule gets much easier.
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