ATLANTA -- And we’re off in one of the country’s best college football cities and one of the sport’s best venues.
We’re just about ready to get things started here at the first game of this weekend’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff, with Tennessee taking on NC State inside the Georgia Dome.
This should be one of the more exciting games of the first weekend, especially with the matchup between Tennessee’s passing game and the Wolfpack’s secondary. The interesting storyline is that both groups are down solid players.
Da’Rick Rogers has made his exit from Tennessee’s football team, while NC State cornerback C.J. Wilson, who has started 29 games in his career, is dealing with an NCAA eligibility issue.
The good news for the Wolfpack is that junior cornerback Dontae Johnson had already beaten out Wilson before he was ruled out of Friday night's game.
Oh, and cornerback David Amerson, who led the ACC in interceptions last year, is still around for NC State, and he might be a future first-round pick.
It’s not like the Vols are down and out at wide receiver without Rogers, who led the SEC in receptions (67) last year and was second in receiving yards (1,040). Justin Hunter is back after his ACL injury that he suffered early last season. At 100 percent, he might be the SEC’s top deep threat. Helping him will be junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson, who received a boatload of hype heading into fall camp.
Highlight reels show that Tennessee should be fine in the passing game, especially with quarterback Tyler Bray slinging the ball, but coach Derek Dooley’s still a little worried. He expects Hunter to be a bit rusty in his return and isn’t sure if Patterson will have the breakout performance fans are banking on against NC State’s talented secondary.
“I’m very concerned because we have very little experience and they’ve got a lot of experience,” Dooley said earlier this week. “What those guys do best is they make you pay for any mistakes, whether it’s a poor route, whether it’s an inaccurate football, a bobbled ball. Whatever it is, they’re going to make you pay.”
Bray’s natural ability will play a big part in helping limit the mistakes. He’s got all the skill to make his guys look good, but he’s had issues with the mental part of the game in the past.
Both teams are trying to prove that they can compete in their respective conferences. Tonight we’ll get a glimpse of things to come for both squads.