Patterson explodes while Hunter eases on to scene
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cordarrelle Patterson’s debut and Justin Hunter’s return turned into a tale of two halves Friday night in the Georgia Dome.
Patterson stole the first half show — turning the junior college transfer’s preseason hype into reality in the process — when he burned North Carolina State cornerback David Amerson on a double move for a 41-yard touchdown catch that gave Tennessee a 6-0 lead.
“He had a couple big plays,” Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. “He showed that he’s big and fast and can catch — he showed what we’ve been saying.”
Patterson took a simple wide receiver reverse 67 yards for a touchdown — completely reversing field and outrunning Amerson to the end zone — later in the quarter.
“We did it in practice a couple times,” Patterson said of the reverse. “I didn’t know we were going to do it. When the play was called I was pretty excited.”
He finished the night with 187 all-purpose yards. All but 27 of those came in the first two quarters for Patterson, who didn’t have a catch in the second half.
Justin Hunter worked his way in from there, catching six passes in the second half for 51 yards. He finished the night with nine receptions for 73 yards.
“Sometimes he tries to do too much,” Tyler Bray said of Hunter. “I mean, there’s a lot going on around him, and (Patterson) had a great game so you knew Justin was going to go out there and try to make plays.
“I talked to him on the sidelines, and I tried to calm him down. It worked for him.”
Hunter, less than 12 months after knee surgery to repair a torn ACL, played without a brace on his knee and cut without caution in his first game back.
“It felt like I never had surgery,” Hunter said after the game.
ROUTE CONFUSION: Dooley said after the game he thought Patterson may have ran the wrong route on the 41-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, but it didn’t really matter with Bray at quarterback.
“That’s the beauty of Bray,” Dooley said. “He don’t care. He’s going to let it fly.
“That pretty much sums it up. Run the wrong route, Bray rewards him, touchdown.”
NOT THERE YET: Dooley was quick to put Tennessee’s season-opening win in perspective Friday night.
“It’s one game,” Dooley said, “because I know you guys are gonna say ‘We’re there’ We’re on our way.’ It’s one game. All that matters is we’re 1-0.
“We have to go clean up a ton of mistakes — we made a ton of mistakes — and go on to the next week.”