KNOXVILLE - While
people around the country enjoy Monday off of work, the Tennessee
football team is doing the same with practice - a schedule that will be
consistent throughout the season. The Vols won their season-opener,
42-16, Saturday against Montana at Neyland Stadium.
Like every game, it had its obstacles. One of them showed up in a different form Saturday.
watching the film, some big-picture items I was really pleased with,”
head coach Derek Dooley said. “First of all, how we managed the
adversity that hit us with the lightning starting out. I thought our
team did a great job in the locker room, especially given the anxiety
of a first game. There was so much anticipation to that moment, and
then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘We can’t go.’ I was worried a little
bit, but we did a good job. “
Not only did the Vols deal with adversity in the sky, but on the field as well.
youth showed up a lot, because in games it’s never going to be how you
plan it,” Dooley said. “They’re always going to come out and throw
different things at you, and you have to have an ability to go to the
sideline and make adjustments. And we really struggled at that,
especially some of the newer guys. We have to do a better job with
that. I also felt (the lack of) an overall commitment on each play by
the players, the new faces. What I mean by that is you run these plays
a certain way for four weeks, and you have confidence and you’re going
fast. Then you get out in the game and you get a little bit unsure and
you don’t play as fast. I saw that.
quarterback Tyler Bray led the offense completing 17-of-24 passes for
293 yards and three touchdowns, while orchestrating a 96-yard drive in
the second quarter, the longest by the Vols since a possession covered
97 yards at Memphis in 2006.
The signal-caller was one of many bright spots for Tennessee regarding the administration throughout the game.
substitution and operation of the game, when I look back on it, was a
real plus for us – especially given their high-tempo, no-huddle,”
Dooley said. “They’re subbing a lot; we’re subbing a lot – so the
defense did a really good job on that. And then I felt Tyler managed
the game really well from an operational standpoint, so that was good.
turnovers; as we know, that’s the No. 1 indicator of winning and
losing. And, of course, our pass game I felt like on both sides of the
ball was pretty good. We gave up that one bad play – you can’t get it
back. But if you did take it out, they were about four yards an
attempt; we were about 121Ž2, which is a huge number.”
SPEAKING OF LIGHTNING...
the Vols dealt with a lightning delay during Saturday’s game against
the fast-paced Grizzlies, the Vols will welcome a quick-strike opponent
in Cincinnati to Knoxville in week two (Sept. 10). The Bearcats posted
a NCAA FBS-high 72 points in their season-opening win against Austin
offense is one of those nightmare offenses, because they’ve got a great
quarterback who was all-conference, they spread the field and generate
numbers by doing so, and they have a fabulous running back who had over
1,000 yards and has a lot of speed,” Dooley said. “We’re going to have
to do a great job of tackling in space and we’re going to have to do a
great job with assignment football. This is a very good football team
coming in, and we’ll see where our team is.”
The Vols were fortunate to have also played an up-tempo opponent in week one, but Cincinnati poses a different threat.
a little carry-over, but every spread team’s a little different,”
Dooley said. “This team really has elements of everything. They do a
good job because they’ve got weapons everywhere. Is there a little
carry-over? Yes. But each spread team’s unique, and probably what these
guys do more than a lot of spread teams is they have an ability to
generate big plays down the field.
“They push it vertically a little bit more than just dinking it out there all the time. They do it all. It’s going to be hard.”
During Monday’s media luncheon, Dooley gave an update as to where the Vols are from a medical standpoint.
– Mo Couch had a slight knee sprain; he’s day-to-day. We’ll probably
re-evaluate Devrin (Young) next week, so he’s still in the rehab. He
can catch punts but we can’t touch him. Next week, we’ll see where he
is and have a better feel for that. Herman (Lathers) update – he got
his screws taken out; we’re thinking 4-6 weeks. We hope by the second
half of the season he can come in and get back in it.
RAMPING UP THE RUN GAME
end Mychal Rivera feels the Tennessee run game has just scratched the
surface and that the Vols can make significant strides heading into
week two against Cincinnati. The Vols netted 128 rushing yards led by
Tauren Poole’s 98 versus Montana.
feel we need to improve on our physicality up front,” Rivera said. “The
O-linemen and myself, tight ends, fullbacks, everybody needs to fire
out and finish their blocks. That was one thing that we saw when we
were evaluating film. The last two seconds of the play, if we strained
just a little harder, I feel Tauren and Marlin (Lane) and those guys
could gain a few more yards.”
Rivera feels these adjustments could be executed rather quickly.
feel there are always holes that maybe a fan or somebody (with) that
perspective doesn’t see,” Rivera said. “We know, if that block would
have happened, it would have been an 80-yard touchdown. I feel we were
a little closer and I feel like that next game we are going to prove a
POPPING THE HOOD
redshirting in 2009 and spending the 2010 campaign as an offensive
lineman, sophomore Daniel Hood has made a seamless transition into a
starting role on the opposite side of the ball as Tennessee’s nose
While switching from offense to defense is usually a difficult move, Hood has had no such issues.
me it felt more natural playing defense,” Hood said. “I’d like to say
that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it seemed like it was
the easiest. Everything seemed to come more natural. Learning the
defense seemed a lot easier than it was learning the offense. Learning
your steps, the techniques and all those things, to me, that was 10
times easier than doing what I was doing with the offensive line.
starter at nose tackle, Hood was one of nine defensive linemen to
rotate in against Montana last Saturday. Although he finished with just
0.5 a tackle, Hood showed how he won the starting spot with his
consistency and ability to disrupt the running game.
played about how he has been practicing all year, which is good,”
Dooley said. “He’s just steady. He plays with good gap discipline and
plugs those holes in the middle. He’s doing a good job for us.”
to Hood, the Montana game is a good starting point for the defensive
line, but also shows how much they have left to improve on.
showed some promise, but we made a lot of mistakes too,” Hood said.
“It’s good to get a base starting point to find out where we need to
improve. Now we have an idea what our deficiencies are and how to get
better from that.”
BUTTERFLIES AND JITTERS
if Tennessee hadn’t waited long enough to play its first game of the
season, the weather delay allowed the butterflies to float around for
an extra 93 minutes Saturday.
think the biggest thing is you always get those first-game jitters and
butterflies,” senior linebacker Austin Johnson said of the most
difficult part of a season-opener. “We just need to be more relaxed,
calm and collected for the next game and not get too hyped up.”
recorded his first career start at middle linebacker against the
Grizzlies, and is looking forward to at least 11 more opportunities to
embrace it. It’s been a great three years so far. Coming in here my
final year, finally getting a starting role and being the leader of the
defense, I really like it. Just getting that first game under my belt
felt good. I can’t wait to keep progressing through the season.”
starting their first career games were to the right and left of Johnson
in freshman linebackers Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson.
and A.J. did a great job,” the elder Johnson said. “I was never really
worried about them. They’ve always been really calm and collected.
They’re mature guys. They don’t act like freshmen and that’s something
we need for this team. I though they went out and executed with great
poise. The sky is the limit for those two and I can’t wait to keep
Junior tight end Mychal Rivera
(On not catching a ball vs. Montana)
“My main job is to focus on my task at hand each play: run block, (run) my route, just to try to win the game for the team.”
are real big, they are physical. They are another winning program
that’s going to come in here and we just have to be ready for them.”
Junior defensive back Prentiss Waggner
(On Art Evans’ interception return for a touchdown)
charged us up a lot. When Art (Evans) made that play, I ran as fast as
I could to the end zone to try to beat him to the end zone. It was big
for me to see him make that play. Art’s been through a lot. He’s been
like a big brother to me on the team, so it was a big plus for me and
for the team.”
(On playing against a spread offense)
hardest part about playing a spread offense is that you are sort of
out-leveraged. The ball is always on the perimeter so you have to play
sound technique ball and you have to be on the same page because if one
guy chooses one direction and you both get outside or inside leverage,
it could be a big pop.”
(On the play of the defensive backs in the Montana game)
had a lot of significant improvement from last year. The main thing
that stood out to me was our perimeter tackling. This week is going to
be that much more of a challenge for us, being that Cincinnati has a
few more athletes on its team. We’re looking forward to a big week of
practice and working on that perimeter tackling this week also.”
Senior defensive end Ben Martin
(On going from playing Montana to Cincinnati)
“There’s a lot of overlap but they’re a different team, different athletes. They bring a lot of different things to the table.”
Sophomore fullback Channing Fugate
(On his performance)
had a couple good plays. One of them I should’ve turned to the outside
instead of the inside, but those are things you learn off of film and
we have to get better from it.”
(On Tennessee’s running game)
we went back and watched it on film, there were a lot of missed
opportunities with everybody; Me getting a block, receivers blocking on
the outside, just the whole team. There were little things on each play
where we could’ve been more successful.”
Senior linebacker Austin Johnson
(On the difference between Montana and Cincinnati)
throw a lot more. They’re a lot more athletic. They know the offense
really well due to a lot of guys being there and coming back. They’re
an older team so that’s probably the biggest difference.”
(On the defensive line vs. Montana)
think they played great. They really got themselves lined up. They had
big ears out there and were listening to what was being said. They
didn’t panic or anything. I thought they did a great job and handled
the tempo well. Being big guys, they never seemed to be too tired so I
was extremely impressed with them.”
(On Cincinnati dual-threat quarterback Zach Collaros)
you see a quarterback like that it’s a big challenge because if they
can run the ball you have to be worried about that. You have to always
have somebody there which takes somebody out of the passing
responsibility. He’s a great player. We just have to make sure we have
a good week of practice and we get good looks from the scouts.”