Tennessee Stat Book
Add Dennis Rogan's name to the list of Tennessee players who have put their stamp on the return game this season.
In the now 19th-ranked Vols' victory over Arkansas on Saturday, the true freshman became the third UT player to return a kickoff for more than 65 yards this season.
Rogan, a two-time Class 3A Mr. Football finalist at Fulton High School, had a 78-yard return, the longest by a Vol this season.
Tennessee ranks first in kickoff returns in the SEC entering Saturday's 2 p.m. game against Vanderbilt in Neyland Stadium (TV: Pay-per-view) and seventh nationally with an average of more than 25 yards a return.
"We're doing a much better job of blocking and staying on blocks and having guys back there with excellent vision," UT coach Phillip Fulmer said Sunday. "It usually gets back to the returner, to be honest with you, and we've had some guys back there that are very capable of doing that."
Starting tailback Arian Foster had his only three returns of the season in the season-opener at California, including a 68-yarder.
LaMarcus Coker, dismissed from the team two weeks ago, still ranks as UT's leading kickoff returner with 21 tries for 560 yards and a 74-yard return against Florida.
But Rogan is quickly becoming UT's guy on special teams.
Rogan took over for senior Jonathan Hefney on punt returns before the Louisana-Lafayette game and returned four punts against Arkansas for 32 yards with a long of 15 yards.
"He did a nice job," Fulmer said. "A very nice job actually. There were a couple plays that if we block it a little better they could have been real big. Dennis has good vision, he's going to handle the ball."
UT's coaches spent time drilling Rogan on various situations involved in returning kickoffs and punts.
Now that Rogan has gained their trust, he's found his place on the field.
"I think the future bodes very well for him, both as a kickoff returner and a punt returner," Fulmer said.
Injury Update: Special teams players Ja'Kouri Williams and LaMarcus Thompson did not practice Sunday night after each suffered minor concussions against Arkansas.
"They got their bell rung during the course of the game, and I think it's just a precaution," Fulmer said.
Beyond those two, Fulmer does not expect anyone to be limited this week, although there are plenty of accumulated bumps and bruises after 10 games.
"Several guys are sore," Fulmer said. "It was a very physical football game, but I don't expect anyone to miss any practice time or the game."
Colquitt Kicking: Through 10 games this season, punter Britton Colquitt is averaging 2.2 fewer yards per punt than he did last season.
Colquitt averaged 44.7 yards a punt last year and is averaging 42.5 this season.
"His standards are very high," Fulmer said. "He's getting very little return yardage on his punts. There are places certainly he can make a big difference. I don't think he's been hitting the ball quite as well as he did earlier in the year, but the results have been positive so far."
UT's net-punting average, which factors in opponents' return yardage, is within a yard of last year's 37.6-yard average.
Upon Further Review: All the things that Tennessee appeared to do well on defense Saturday turned up on film.
The Vols tackled well, maintained their assignments and played disciplined in holding Arkansas ground attack to just 127 rushing yards, Fulmer said.
"We tackled well in the ball game and played really well assignment-wise," Fulmer said. "We did not give them plays and chunks of yards. Just played really good assignment football and tackled well."
No Thanks For The Memory: Vanderbilt's trip to Neyland Stadium on Saturday will be the Commodores' first visit since they defeated UT 28-24 in 2005.
"There's nothing good to remember about it," Fulmer said. "They made the plays down the stretch to win the ball game."
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.