KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Tech coach Marcus Satterfield knew his FCS-level team would be overmatched in some respects, but he felt his team’s effort was on par with Tennessee on Saturday.
“We knew the personnel advantage they had in every position, (and) I thought we had a pretty good plan put together to try to attack that disadvantage,” said Satterfield, a graduate assistant with the Vols in 2002 and 2003.
“We just wanted to come out and play as hard as we could, see what would happen and take care of the football. We did take care of the football for the most part. They just have a lot of speed outside, and it’s hard to cover if they protect for two or three seconds, and it’s hard for us to stay hip to hip with them in the secondary.”
Vols quarterback Josh Dobbs struck for TD passes of 30 and 43 yards on the opening possessions, sparking Tennessee to a 55-0 homecoming win over the Golden Eagles.
“They made those big plays early,” Satterfield said. “That really put us in the hole. We didn’t care about the scoreboard. We just kept playing and tried to get plays when we could.”
Tennessee Tech quarterback Michael Birdsong was more impressive than his 17-of-35 passing for 164 yards might indicate. Birdsong showed good mobility and the ability to throw off the run, as well as toughness.
WR Dontez Byrd was the game’s leading receiver with 9 catches for 121 yards for the Golden Eagles.
“What you saw tonight is what he’s been doing all year,” Satterfield said. “He continues to get tougher as the season goes along. He had to make some one-on-one plays today, which were not easy.
“He had acrobatic catches against some really good defenders. Michael Birdsong did a great job of putting him in a place where he could locate it and go make a play on the ball, but that’s what Byrd does.”
Tailbacks Andrew Goldsmith (7 carries, 39 yards) and Yeedee Thaenrat (14 carries, 33 yards) each had runs of more than 10 yards.
“Yeedee Thaenrat was delivering blows against the best players Tennessee had to throw at us and they knew who he was at the end of the night,” said Satterfield, who worked with the Vols tailbacks during his time in the offensive meeting room with Phillip Fulmer and Randy Sanders.
“He didn’t have the yardage to really show for it, but I know if they tried to tackle him, they’d feel it more and I’m proud of Thaenrat and the way he played. I was proud of Andrew Goldsmith, the way he played tonight.”
The crowd of 98,343 was the largest Tennessee Tech has played in front of in school history.
“We competed at the highest level of our profession of what we do in Division I football and we left it all out on the field,” Satterfield said. “They didn’t just get absolutely overwhelmed, especially offensively. I think that will help us from a confidence standpoint.”