KNOXVILLE - While
Tennessee sophomores Tyler Bray and Da’Rick Rogers are garnering plenty
of attention - and rightfully so - freshman wide receiver DeAnthony
Arnett has quietly made the most of his playing time so far.
is a talented guy,” head coach Derek Dooley said. “He has real good
transition. He has good ball skills. He has good feel for the game. His
biggest thing right now is playing fast without the ball and that’s
something that all freshmen really struggle with is learning to play
fast without the ball. He’s still working on that.”
While Arnett is still working, things are simplifying with the increased experience.
been more than I thought,” Arnett said of his adjustment to college
while meeting with the media for the first time. “A lot of plays, a lot
of shifts and motion. It’s been a lot. It’s been tough on me,
especially the first two games and all through training camp. Once I
got it down, I got it down pat. It’s coming easier to me.”
sophomore Justin Hunter suffered a torn ACL at Florida, Arnett’s
opportunity increased - one that he’s not taking for granted.
Since the injury, Arnett has tallied 11 receptions for 86 yards and three touchdowns.
just know I have to step up more,” Arnett said. “I have to take
practice more seriously. I don’t want to be treated like a freshman
anymore and I try to tell the coaches that all the time. They say
they’re not going to treat me like a freshman, but they expect me to
step my level of play up.”
His consistency has helped him build trust in his quarterback.
just running his routes and he is running them consistently,” Bray
said. “He’s not changing the way he’s doing it, so as a quarterback
that helps. When a guy runs it one way one time then switches it up the
next time, it kind of throws off your timing. Him just keeping his
routes consistent has helped.”
A standout wide
receiver at Saginaw H.S. in Saginaw, Mich., Arnett’s resume consisted
of a combined 83 receptions for 1,658 yards and 18 TDs between his
junior and senior seasons.
Naturally confident, Arnett was ready for his opportunity the second he stepped on campus.
wanted to come in right away,” Arnett said. “I was more anxious than
anything. Sometimes, I get so anxious to the point that I mess up. I
was just real anxious and when I finally got my chance, I responded.”
Vols practiced for a little more than two hours Tuesday morning at
Haslam Field and stressed the importance of the basics heading into
Saturday’s SEC contest against Georgia.
good spirit and good energy,” Dooley said. “The real key to me in these
games is learning and this is the step we need to make is learning how
to play with great team spirit, great effort, great toughness and
discipline and all the while maintain your composure for four quarters.
those kinds of intangibles and maintaining your composure when
sometimes the game gets a little chaotic as they all do. We’ll see if
we’ve shown any improvement in that area.”
Tennessee’s offense has been potent through four games, averaging 447.5
yards per outing, it will have its hands full against the Bulldogs.
are 11 big physical guys,” Dooley said of Georgia’s defense. “They’re
really big in the front and hard to move. They hit you and it hurts
because they weigh a lot and they’re explosive. They have very
aggressive safeties that are active in the run and active on the ball.
It’s good team defense – good coaching and good scheme. We have our
work cut out. They’ve given up one touchdown in three games.”
One of those 11 big, physical guys is sophomore nose tackle Kwame Geathers, who checks in at 6-6 and 350 pounds.
enormous,” Dooley said. “He doesn’t need any moves because his main
move it to lift the center up and throw him into the quarterback. When
you’re that big and powerful, that’s a hard technique to defend.”
wide receiver Rajion Neal, slowed this season by injury and position
change, is settling into his role as a wide receiver as evidenced by
his play against Buffalo last week.
scored his first career touchdown, a 20-yard end-around that got the
ball rolling for UT’s offense. He also caught a 14-yard pass.
think that energized him a little bit,” Dooley said of Neal’s play. “I
hope it did. It’s been tough on Rajion. He had an injury and going
through a little bit of a position change. Both of those things can
really impact your attitude.
“He’s had a real good
demeanor. He’s working for the team and generally when your attitude
gets right, your production falls in line.”
production will be needed again Saturday against Georgia. The
Fayetteville, Ga., native, however, refuses to see this game as a
matter of personal pride, but as a chance for his team to get its first
SEC win of the season.
“It’s a big game, but to me
this is just another game,” Neal said. “We have to take it seriously
and prepare. It is more meaningful just because it is an SEC game. We
have to go in ready (to play).”
SEC LEADER LEADING VOLS
your sophomore quarterback leads the SEC in touchdown passes, passing
efficiency, passing yards per game and total offense per game and ranks
second in total passing yards, it’s hard not to get excited.
have zero complaints,” Dooley said. “Never as good as we want him to be
but he’s played well and now let’s see how he can play against Georgia.
I’m extremely pleased. It’s hard to look at his numbers and be
disappointed in what he’s doing, but I don’t want to get too excited. I
just want to measure us week-to-week. We’re doing good. Here are some
things we need to work on. Let’s see how we perform this week.”
all the numbers though, Dooley is most pleased with his ability to
limit turnovers. Bray has thrown 14 touchdown passes to just two
interceptions through the first four games.
like the touchdown-to-interception ratio the best,” Dooley said.
“Before you learn how to win a game, you have to not lose it. The
quickest way to lose a game is throw it to the other guy. He’s done
pretty good at that so far and then of course the accuracy is reflected
in our third downs. That’s a key. I hope he can continue the way he’s
Last season Bray threw 12 interceptions,
including seven in his last three games. The experience from those
on-field mistakes, combined with a greater comfort level with the
playbook, have helped teach him how to take care of the football a
little more this year.
“Just knowing what is going
on (is key),” Bray said. “Last year, some of the interceptions were
just careless mistakes. I should have known that the guy was going to
do what he did and not have thrown it to him.”
area in which Bray has improved significantly is leadership. The first
to admit that it wasn’t his strong suit last year, Bray has worked hard
to become more vocal in the huddle.
quarterback, they are looking at you to see what you are going to do,”
Bray said. “If you just sit there and be quiet like I did last year, it
is kind of hard to run the offense. If you are more vocal, it is a
little easier to listen to. I’m still growing into it. I’m still
learning new stuff about leadership every day, but if I can just keep
improving on that we will be fine.”
For Dooley, Bray’s improved leadership traits and command of the team are as much about his work on the field as off of it.
think that comes with performance,” Dooley said. “The more guys perform
and the better they perform, the more apt they are to take a little
more command of the team. When you play well, you automatically earn
the respect of some others on the team. Naturally, people are going to
listen to you a little bit more. I hope Tyler realizes how important
the other 10 guys are for his performance. Therefore, when they’re not
getting it right, let’s take a little ownership and get it right.”
Head coach Derek Dooley
(On comparing what a big lineman does to a smaller lineman to him and his son wrestling)
the classic case of what big guys do to little guys. It’s like when my
son wants to wrestle me, I still pound him because I’m bigger. He
doesn’t understand but he’ll get it. When he gets better, I’m going to
tell him I’m not wrestling.”
(On the importance of playing with fundamentals)
show a lot of fire in a lot of areas. I wasn’t doing anything different
than I normally do. I’m just trying to emphasize some of the basic
fundamentals. Sometimes we never play to our abilities because we
neglect some of the fundamentals. We just want to have talent, but if
you don’t play with fundamentals the talent can’t show.”
(On freshman defensive lineman Jordan Williams)
has a great motor. He has very good twitch. Those two qualities right
there are important as you can have in a defensive lineman. Twitch to
get off blocks and motor, effort. IT sounds easier said than done but
he has that and he has good stature. That’s a good starting point.”
Sophomore defensive end Jacques Smith
(On Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray)
has an excellent arm and he is very accurate. He can definitely beat
you with his legs if he gets out of the pocket and you lose contain.
That’s something we are going to have to work on this week.”
(On the importance of Saturday’s game against the Bulldogs)
think this is a huge game for us. It is our second game in the SEC East
and we’ve got a lot to prove. We really want to get an SEC win.”
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray
(On praise from Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt)
great. Anytime you can get praise from another head coach it is always
good, but (Georgia’s) Aaron Murray is a good quarterback and it is
going to be a good battle.”
(On the Georgia defense)
thing we’ve been seeing, same coverages. They have a big, heavy
secondary, so we will try to be a little speedy against them.”
(On the challenges of playing a 3-4 defense)
all the same number of guys on the field, so you just have to know how
many men you have to protect and how many they are bringing. If you
know that, you are fine.”
(On Da’Rick Rogers and his history with Georgia)
is going to stay the same regardless. He already knows they are going
to come after him and try to jaw for him, so we are just going to try
to keep him centered and playing the way he has been.”
Senior linebacker Austin Johnson
think they are (a very balanced football team). People were kind of
down on them at the beginning of the year, but they have really turned
their season around. They are a good team and have been impressive the
past three weeks with three wins in a row.”
(On what Georgia does well offensively)
can run the ball really well. They have a huge offensive line. They are
probably the biggest offensive line in the country. They have a great
running back. Number one (Isaiah Crowell) is a hard runner. He is young
but he plays like an old player, so we just have to make sure we are
ready for that. He doesn’t (look like a freshman). He has a lot of
natural ability from what I’ve seen on film. That’s the biggest thing.
Also, their quarterback is a threat to run and we have to be ready for
(On the difficulty of playing against a quarterback that can run)
just puts a lot of stress on you. You have your coverage and then you
have a quarterback with a lot of space. Our biggest thing has been
space tackling and that is something we are going to have to be good in
this week because if he does decide to run the ball there will be a few
yards in between us.”
(On today’s practice)
thought we had a good day of practice today, especially the defense. We
had some big hits just trying to get everybody going and hyped up.
Coach Dooley always brings that fire and helps to keep us motivated at
Sophomore offensive lineman Alex Bullard
(On Georgia’s defensive line)
are big, really big. Their nose guard is like 6-6, 350. We just have to
get low on them. We’ll be able to handle them because we are all big
and strong upfront (too). We’ll be able to get under them and move them
off the ball. We can’t let them get started in pass rush and we’ll be
Junior safety Prentiss Waggner
(On Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray)
makes him so dangerous is his arm. He has a pretty strong arm and he
has a good group of receivers. Not one guy stands out, everybody runs
their routes hard, so you never know who is expected to get the ball.
That’s what makes the receiving corps dangerous.”
(On Murray’s ability to scramble)
is very important for us to keep our discipline. As you can see last
week, (Buffalo) got a big play on a quarterback scramble, so guys have
to have some type of awareness even when they are in coverage.”