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Tennessee's young team proves to be better than expected

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday
NCAA Football: Utah State at Tennessee
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Aug 31, 2014; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Pig Howard (2) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against Utah State Aggies linebacker Nick Vigil (41) (not pictured) during the first half at Neyland Stadium. (Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports)

Tennessee was the youngest team in the country this season, but it didn’t look like it in its season opener against Utah State.

The Vols jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back trouncing the Aggies 38-7.

It was a result no one who wasn’t a Tennessee fan saw coming. Utah State was returning a veteran quarterback and a strong defense while more than half of Tennessee’s roster was new. But coach Butch Jones' recruiting appeared to pay off as Tennessee was faster, more efficient and even coached better than their Utah State counterparts.

The way Tennessee played in its season opener makes the Sept. 13 contest against Oklahoma far more intriguing than it was even a day ago. Oklahoma had its way with Louisiana Tech 48-16 on Saturday.

The Vols have to get past Arkansas State next weekend and Oklahoma has Tulsa, but that Sept. 13 contest, if both teams stay undefeated, could have some meaning later in the season, especially for Oklahoma, which might need a quality win to offset the fact that the Big 12 doesn’t play a conference championship game.

But Tennessee is no longer a gimme and this game might have raised expectations for the Vols. Jones’ team looked ready to compete and appeared to be — albeit against a Mountain West team — a better squad than it was during his first season.

We’ll see if that’s the case as the year treks on the opponents get more difficult.

For more Tennessee news, visit VolQuest.com.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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