The Vols offensive line and running backs did exactly what they set out to do against an outmanned opponent on Saturday. The running game finally got off the schneid by putting up 187 yards on 44 carries. Five different players carried the ball for positive yardage in the Vols 41-10 romp.
Apparently, Tennessee wanted to run the ball against Buffalo. The Vols ran 13 more rushing plays than passing plays.
Maligned senior running back Tauren Poole tied his season high 101 yards rushing on 17 carries and true freshman Marlin Lane chipped in seven carries for 28 yards.
According to Poole, however, the Vols running game is still not quite where it needs to be.
Following the game, the senior told assembled media at the post game press conference, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, "I think the O-line did a great job playing physical and playing fast." Poole continued, "...the running game's still not where it needs to be. I've got to continue to get better as a running back, and we've got to continue to get better as a running team...for one, I can't fall down when I've got a touchdown."
At least Poole understands his own issues carrying the ball. His footwork is still not quite right and he still lacks the explosiveness that most SEC backs have to utilize to play in this conference.
The offensive line pretty much did what it wanted on the ground against Buffalo--something it couldn't do last month against an FCS program (Montana).
The Vols only rushing touchdown came on a 20-yard reverse to Poole's former backup-turned wide receiver Rajion Neal.
There were still some sloppy moments for the Vols late in the game. Special teams looked awful in the fourth quarter with a kickoff out of bounds, a blocked punt, and a fumble on a kickoff return.
Tyler Bray looked as good as ever and would have looked even better if not for multiple dropped passes, one of which would have been a touchdown, the other a sure first down.
Failing in special teams, even for a quarter, and dropping sure touchdowns will not cut it against any of the Vols next four opponents (Georgia, LSU, Alabama, and South Carolina).
The running game will face a much stiffer challenge from those teams as well. But for now, it was good to see some life from a running game that has been lackluster so far this season.