Derek Dooley was worried how Tennessee’s younger players would respond to the excitement that surrounded the Volunteers’ first game.
    
That excitement was put on hold for nearly two hours due to a weather delay, but UT’s second-year coach was pleased by how the team responded.
   
 “I thought our team did a great job in the locker room, especially given the anxiety of a first game,” Dooley said. “There was so much anticipation of that moment, and then all of the sudden it’s like we can’t go. I was worried a little bit with all this anxiety and anticipation, but we did a good job.”
   
 Twelve true freshmen participated in the game, a number that surprised Dooley on Monday.
   
 “Our youth showed up a lot, because in games, it’s never going to be how you plan it,” Dooley said. “(Opponents are) always going to come out and throw different things at you, and you have to have the ability to go to the sideline and make adjustments. We really struggled at that, especially some of the new guys.”
    
But despite the freshman growing pains, Dooley was quick to praise the newcomers on Monday.
   
 “I think what was pleasing about that class is you didn’t see them be so wide-eyed that they didn’t perform,” Dooley said. “They had a nice calm about them. That was good.”
    
“Art”ful touchdown
    
Senior cornerback Art Evans recorded his first career interception in the season-opener, and did so in style. He returned it 37 yards for a touchdown to give the Vols a 35-9 lead in the third quarter.
   
 “When Art made that play, I think I ran the fastest I could to try to beat him to the endzone,” junior safety Prentiss Waggner said. “It was big for me to see him make that play. Art’s been through a lot. He’s like a big brother to me on the team. That was a big plus for me and the team.”
    
Injury Report
    
Sophomore defensive tackle Maurice Couch suffered a slight knee sprain against Montana. Dooley said he is day-to-day.
    
Freshman tailback/returner Devrin Young will be re-evaluated next week to see if he can begin contact drills. Young broke his right collarbone in August and missed all of fall camp.
    
Junior linebacker Herman Lathers had the two large screws removed from his left ankle, which he broke during the summer. Dooley said Lathers is still four to six weeks away from being able to play.
    
Players of the week
    
Dooley announced the team’s three players of the week Monday.
   
 On offense, it was sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray. Bray was 17-of-24 for 293 yards and three touchdowns against Montana.
    
Senior linebacker Daryl Vereen was the defense’s player of the week. Vereen led the team in tackles with six, and is a starter in the Vols’ nickel package.
    
On special teams, junior safety Rod Wilks was player of the week. He recorded a career-high four tackles against the Grizzlies, including a tackle for loss.