Not only did not all the fans show up, but neither did the giant-killer Bulldogs.
The game was supposed to answer some of the Volunteers' question marks, but the lack of a proven test has left those questions unanswered.
o Are the defensive tackles ready?
The hyped Fresno offense walked away with a sick minus-1 yard on the ground and gave the Vol defense the early No. 1 national ranking.
On closer inspection, though, starting tackles Mondre Dickerson and Greg Jones finished with only eight tackles combined.
The pair spent most of the game making holes for linebacker and leading tacklers Kevin Simon (10) and Kevin Burnett (6).
So while the pair didn't perform poorly, they've still got a ways to go.
The true test for the Vol defense will be Saturday against Marshall. The Thundering Herd have averaged over 500 yards of offense over the past couple of seasons.
That's even more impressive considering the Herd lost their offensive coordinator last season to Florida and haven't skipped a beat - granted first-round draft pick Byron Leftwich was the quarterback laying down that beat.
This seems no different with new quarterback Stan Hill. The junior from Tupelo, Miss. rained down 344 yards of passing against Hofstra, Marshall's first opponent.
If you can look beyond the fact the game was against Hofstra, it's clear the 608 total yards of total offense indicate a smooth offensive unit.
Jones, Dickerson and the rest of Tennessee's defensive front will need to be more effective to slow down the Herd passing attack.
o Will a receiver emerge?
The game quickly became the James Banks coming-out party, but the converted quarterback still has much to learn about the position.
The Vols' youth at receiver didn't prove to be an issue in the first game and you should probably expect the same against a Marshall defense that allowed 21 points to the powerful Hofstra Pride.
After a slow first game, don't expect Vol quarterback Casey Clausen to blow up on Marshall, but do expect running back Cedric Houston to flirt with 200 yards if the heat isn't bad.
Many criticized Clausen's play after a two-interception performance against Fresno. While the second interception was a bad pass, the first was a confused receiver allowing the defense to make a play.
Clausen threw maybe four bad passes in the offseason and should be fine once he grows comfortable with his receivers.
Until then, Houston will look like a Heisman candidate.
The Herd defense won't have the depth to slow down the junior running back, but the receivers need to develop in this game to be ready for a Sept. 20 date in the Swamp.
The offense can't rely on the ground game all season.
o Will a kicker please stand up?
Arizona transfer Ryan Fusco can knock the cover off the ball, but has the accuracy of a Shumaker financial statement.
Young starter James Wilhoit is Vols' future at the position, but either nerves or being up past his bedtime has caused the redshirt freshman to miss almost everything under 30 yards, and hit everything over.
Then there is senior Philip Newman, who is somewhat consistent, but kicks low enough that even squatty, 6-foot-tall defensive tackle Matt McGlothlin could knock it down.
This problem is minor for now, but in the end Wilhoit will probably lose the nerves and find consistency.
It wouldn't be wise for the Vols to overlook Marshall, because the Herd should prove to be more of a test than injury-riddled Fresno State.
At the very least, Saturday's game will allow some questions to be answered - and just in time.
The Gators are looming.
- Glenn LaFollette is a senior in broadcasting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vols first true test: The Herd
Published: Thu Sep 04, 2003 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:19 p.m.