Chattanooga Mocs at Tennessee Volunteers
Final Score: Tennessee wins 10-6
It’s never easy to establish a brand new offensive scheme, and that’s what Tennessee football was tasked with doing in 1964. After the program became stale under Bowden Wyatt and Jim McDonald went .500 in just one year, the Vols turned to Florida Gators graduate Doug Dickey to take over the program heading into the year.
Dickey was tasked with bringing the program into what was the modern era at the time. Part of that was changing the offense from the single-wing, which dated back to the beginning of Robert Neyland’s tenure on Rocky Top, to the fashionable slot-T, the spread offense of its time.
However, in 1964, he did not have the personnel to run it yet, as the recruits he targeted wouldn’t be eligible until 1965. So the Vols opened the season against a Chattanooga Mocs team that had been a Southern Conference rivalry with them back in the day.
Despite UT being at a much higher level, though, the offensive change resulted in a hideous opener. In the second quarter, they had a 48-yard touchdown drive to go up 7-0. A field goal gave them a 10-0 lead in the third.
Chattanooga, however, did manage a touchdown with a missed extra point. But the Vols would hold on defense to get an ugly 10-6 win in Dickey’s inaugural game as head coach. The New York Times described them as “far from impressive” in their debut in the T-formation.
This was indicative of what would be a rough season overall. The Vols got a signature tie over the No. 7 ranked LSU Tigers and a signature win the next week over the No. 7 ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, giving false hope at 4-2-1.
But they had already lost to the Auburn Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide. And they would close out the season on a three-game losing streak to the Ole Miss Rebels, Kentucky Wildcats and Vanderbilt Commodores to finish 4-5-1. This was clearly a rebuilding year, but they would take off the next season in Dickey’s system.