Leaving a frat house on a Saturday night in a police car is never a good thing — unless you’re Tennessee third-string kicker Derrick Brodus.
Injuries have helped produce the kind of season where UT fans and coaches laugh to keep from crying, and the Volunteers and Brodus got a kick out of their latest bouts with attrition on Saturday night. Brodus was at a fraternity house when he got a call some 50 minutes before UT’s kickoff with Middle Tennessee State — the one he would boot, it turns out.
Starting kicker Michael Palardy was injured Thursday, although UT coach Derek Dooley initially thought he’d be ready by game time. But Palardy wasn’t, and neither was backup Chip Rhome after he pulled a muscle in pregame.
So Brodus, who, judging by what must have been 40,000 empty Neyland Stadium seats, wasn’t the only more interested in staying home and watching the Nos. 1-2 matchup between LSU and Alabama, was tracked down and sent a police escort.
“I was at my place watching college football games,” Brodus said. “I got a bunch of phone calls from some people from the (football) office. They asked me what I was doing.
“They just said they needed a kicker and they needed me to get to the stadium as fast I could. I could not believe what was going on. … I’m not sure what time I got the stadium but I knew everybody was already out warming up. … I got some stretching and some warm-up kicks in.”
Impromptu preparation paid off. The former Alcoa player, who did make all three PATs for the White in the spring game, made all three PATs in the 24-0 win against MTSU. He also made a 21-yard field goal to conclude the game’s scoring on the last play of the first half.
Dooley joked that it was a good thing Brodus hadn’t been having too much fun, as college students are prone to do at frat houses. Brodus apparently hadn’t had any adult beverages.
“No,” Brodus said, “I’m not quite 21 yet, so …”
And the interview ended with laughter from reporters.
“We had to make a call to the frat house. … I’m gonna write a book one day on the things that’ve happened to me in two years,” Dooley said. “I’ve never had that one — had to find a kicker out of a frat. … Just when I think it’s all happened to me, I’m going out in pregame without a kicker.”
Of course, if Alabama millionaire Nick Saban had it to do over, he might phone a friend at a frat house, too. The Crimson Tide missed four field goals, including one in overtime of the 9-6 loss in Tuscaloosa.
• It was a memorable night for Alcoa. Brodus’ former high school teammate, Jaron Toney, led the Vols with 52 yards rushing on 19 carries. Toney is a redshirt freshman walk-on.
“Jaron has run really well in practice for a long time,” Dooley said. “He is a walk-on so you just always dismiss him. But we are not lighting it up running the ball and I wanted to see Jaron. I should have played him last week.”
Senior Tauren Poole rushed for two TDs, but finished with 11 rushes for 13 yards. Poole has 145 carries for 513 yards (3.5 yards per carry) and four TDs this season after tallying 1,034 yards and 11 TDs on 204 carries (5.1 yards per carry) in 2010 behind a less experienced line.
Tennessee true freshman Marlin Lane rushed nine times for 37 yards against MTSU, mostly from the Wildcat formation. • Sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray is set to have a cast removed from his right hand today. Bray broke the thumb on his throwing hand in the second half of a home loss to Georgia on Oct. 12.
Speculation is that there’s a slim chance Bray could play Saturday at No. 8 Arkansas (6 p.m., ESPN2), but more likely to return in a home game against Vanderbilt on Nov. 19. The Vols (4-5) need to win two of their remaining three games – the other is the regular-season finale at Kentucky – to become bowl eligible.
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Bray has passed for 1,579 yards, 14 TDs and two interceptions while completing 65.9 percent of his passes this season.
True freshman Justin Worley also appears to have the makings of a quality SEC quarterback. Worley’s release, arm strength and accuracy are all assets. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder from Rock Hill, S.C., was 23 of 32 for 291 yards, including a 47-yard TD pass to Da’Rick Rogers, against the Blue Raiders.
“He played like the guy we signed and we thought he could be,” Dooley said.