EUGENE, Ore. – It wasn’t a huge secret that UT would be overmatched when it travelled to No. 2 Oregon on Saturday.
That still didn’t prepare the Vols (2-1) for the type of game they were in for against the overpowering Ducks, though. Oregon (3-0) piled up 687 yards of total offense in a dominating 59-14 win over the Vols.
It was the worst loss for the Vols in the modern era (since 1937). The Vols gave up the second-most yards in a single game in program history. It was the most points Tennessee has given up since Florida scored 59 as well in 2007. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (456 passing yards) finished with the third-best day in history for a quarterback opposing UT.
“We knew we had to play error-free football and we did the things you couldn’t against a very talented team,” said UT coach Butch Jones. “We need to regroup. It’s a very, very long season. We’re going to find out our competitive spirit.”
The scary part for the Vols is that a majority of those lofty numbers occurred through just three quarters. The Ducks carried a commanding 59-7 lead into the fourth quarter before emptying their bench. The Vols tacked on a late touchdown from reserve running back Alden Hill to make the score slightly more respectable.
It was the first score for UT since the second drive of the game, when starting quarterback Justin Worley hit receiver Jason Croom for a 4-yard score to give UT a surprising, early 7-0 lead. It was all Oregon sandwiched between the two UT scores.
The Ducks dominated all three phases. Mariota found open receivers all day. Oregon receiver Josh Huff had 125 yards and a touchdown. Addison Bralon added six grabs for 78 yards. Backup tight end Johnny Mundt even got in on the act, catching five passes for 121 yards and adding two scores. Lightning-quick running back De’Anthony Thomas added 86 yards and a score on the ground.
The Ducks virtually ended the game with a 28-0 effort in the second quarter, upping the score to 38-7 at the half. The Vols struggled to stay on the field offensively. After a 51-yard reception by Josh Smith in the first quarter, big plays were virtually non-existent. The Vols finished with just 138 yards receiving. A total of 38 attempts on the ground yielded just 178 yards – many of which came after the game was out of reach.
The Vols must regroup quickly. They travel to face No. 18 Florida next Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET). Tennessee hasn’t defeated the Gators since 2004.
. Defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry left the game with a left leg injury and didn’t return. Coach Butch Jones said he would be evaluated more when the team returned to Knoxville. The Vols were already thin at defensive tackle due to the absence of Maurice Couch, who is being held out to due eligibility issues.
. Receivers Pig Howard and Johnathon Johnson both sat out with injuries. Linebacker Curt Maggitt and defensive end Corey Vereen were among the other notable players who sat out with injuries. Defensive end Jacques Smith did return for his first action of the season.
. After coming into the Oregon game with just two penalties on the year, the Vols committed four for 40 yards against the Ducks.