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Bray should post big stats vs. Panthers

Trey Williams • Sep 7, 2012 at 11:19 PM

Georgia State coach Bill Curry said on his weekly TV show that his Panthers defense made South Carolina State quarterback Richard Cue look like Johnny Unitas in a 33-6 loss.

Another former Colt might cross Curry’s mind today in Neyland Stadium. Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray is almost certain to put up Peyton Manning-like numbers against overmatched Georgia State (4 p.m., pay-per-view).

The Sagarin Ratings make the Panthers (0-1) a 40-point underdog, and that seems low after watching Tennessee (1-0) roll over North Carolina State in the Georgia Dome and the Panthers roll over against South Carolina State in the Georgia Dome.

Cue passed for 300 yards and three touchdowns. More troubling for Curry, GSU had defensive backs in position on many of the big plays they allowed.

So it’s difficult to envision them faring any better against UT’s 6-foot-4 Justin Hunter and 6-foot-3 Cordarrelle Patterson even if they do so somehow manage to cover them.

Patterson, a junior who was the No. 1-rated juco receiver last season, scored two touchdowns and tallied 165 yards total offense during his debut against the Wolfpack. And he’s kept his nose to the grindstone.

“What’s good about Cordarrelle is he’s very humble,” Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. “I think he understands that games aren’t easy. He’s not going to go out there and just show up and be able to perform the way he did, so he’s working very hard in practice this week to improve.”

Measuring impovement today might be difficult. The Panthers program is in its third year. Georgia State lost 63-7 at Alabama in 2010 and it lost 56-0 at Houston last year.

If nothing else, it will be good for the Vols to get live reps, especially a defense that had some busts in the debut of new coordinator Sal Sunseri’s 3-4 scheme.

“I thought we played pretty good against the run, and there were times where we were able to put pressure and hit the quarterback,” But not as consistently as we want to. And probably the biggest thing we have to improve on up front is our pass-rush lanes. We had a number of scrambles that their quarterback had for big yards.”

The Volunteers defense was disruptive against a quality opponent with an experienced quarterback. UT had four turnovers. The Vols didn’t reach four interceptions until the ninth game last season.

“We did a good job of that (disruption) – creating four turnovers and a safety,” Dooley said. “The players have been great about buying into what we’re doing here. They’re playing with a lot of agressiveness, and playing fast and confident.”

Notes: Curry played center at Georgia Tech. John Robert Bell was his position coach. Bell went on to coach at East Tennessee State, and his Buccaneers capped an Ohio Valley Conference-championship season in 1969 with a Grantland Rice Bowl victory over Terry Bradshaw-led Louisiana Tech.

Bell died on Christmas day in 2008. Curry, who has been the head coach at Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky, spoke reverently at Bell’s memorial service at Munsey Methodist Church.

He said Bell’s direction inspired him after another coach had told him he’d never be a significant contributor. Curry went on to play 10 years in the NFL. …

Patterson was one of five Vols making his first start last week. Left tackle Antonio Richardson, defensive linemen Darrinton Sentimore and Daniel McCullers and safety Byron Moore also made their debuts. … Tennessee hosts Florida next Saturday at 6 p.m. (ESPN).

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