Led By Freshmen: Vols Thump Western Kentucky

Jeffrey McDanielCorrespondent ISeptember 6, 2009

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 20: Quarterback Jonathan Crompton #8 of the Tennessee Volunteers hands off the ball against the Florida Gators at Neyland Stadium on September 20, 2008 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

At some point during the first quarter of Saturday's 63-7 blowout of Western Kentucky, Phillip Fulmer must've been smiling.

Tennessee had just committed their second turnover, and QB Jonathan Crompton was looking more and more like his 2008 self.

Indeed, it was a very forgettable opening quarter for the Lane Kiffin era.

The Volunteers were far from impressive.  They'd fumbled twice (one of which they got back), thrown an interception and scored exactly zero points.

But somewhere near the end of the first quarter, things began to click for the Vols.

It began with a 10 play, 81 yard scoring drive, capped off by a rushing touchdown by highly touted freshman Bryce Brown, and ended with another freshman sensation, David Oku, being tackled three yards shy of the end zone as time expired.

What happened in between was a sight to see.

Tennessee racked up 657 yards of total offense.  They scored the aforementioned 63 points.  Two backs rushed for over 100 yards.

Defensively, the Vols were even more dominant.  Save for a meaningless second half touchdown, Tennessee held Western Kentucky to just 83 yards of offense.

By halftime, the Vols led 28-0.  Kiffin said the Vols "should've been up by five or six touchdowns." 

The second half was even more impressive.  The offense looked better than it did during the 90's.  The defense was more dominant than any Tennessee has seen since the days of General Neyland.

All the trash that Kiffin talked during the offseason was suddenly backed up emphatically. 

For 60 minutes, Tennessee football was back.

For the 97,000 fans inside Neyland Stadium, it never really left.  It was just like old times. 

Tennessee's freshman gamebreakers, Brown (11 carries, 104 Yards, and one TD), David Oku (eight for 42 and two scores) and Nu'Keese Richardson (three catches for 30 yards) all looked very impressive. 

Another freshman, Marsalis Teague, was maybe the most impressive of all, with six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.

It was as good a day for Tennessee football as any in recent memory.

And somewhere, Phillip Fulmer's smile got a little bigger.