Rogan could see more time returning punts

Even though he hasn’t returned a kick or punt this season, receiver Gerald Jones knows he’s not happy with Tennessee’s special teams.

“Our thing that’s killing us the most; it’s evident that kickoff, really, we’ve got to get better,” Jones said Wednesday. “There’s no question. We can’t continue to do what we’ve been doing all year to beat this (Alabama) team.”

Jones, who returned 15 punts and three kickoffs in 2008, is determined to uncover hidden yardage to help UT’s offense.

“Another thing that’s really been the key that a lot of people really haven’t realized is punt return,” Jones said.

“If they kick the ball short, me personally, I think we should run up there and call a fair catch instead of letting the ball roll 12 yards downfield.”

Jones said he expects defensive back Dennis Rogan to return more punts Saturday against Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Rogan has split time with freshman receiver Nu’Keese Richardson this season. Rogan has been the more sure-handed of the two.

Jones feels better about UT’s chances returning kicks against Alabama, which has struggled covering kickoffs this season. Alabama’s 24.64 yard per return ranks 102nd in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“We’re going to throw some different things at them and try to get one to the house,” Jones said.

Injury Report: Defensive tackle Dan Williams was held out of the early portion of practice but entered drills later. Defensive end Gerald Williams did not practice but coach Lane Kiffin said the junior is expected to play Saturday.

Cornerback Art Evans was limited. Kiffin said he would be a game-time decision. Kiffin said Marsalous Johnson would replace Evans if he can’t play.

Senior receiver Quintin Hancock (foot/ankle) did not practice. Kiffin said Hancock could play Saturday even though he hasn’t practiced in a week.

Practice Report: Kiffin said he was pleased with practice Wednesday, especially the production by his quarterbacks and receivers.

“They were well over 90 percent completion percentage today,” Kiffin said.

Jostling Jones: Jones said he expects plenty of physical play from Alabama’s defensive backs, a staple of a Nick Saban coached team.

“They really get away with being physical down the field,” Jones said. “But I really don’t say that’s a good job by the cornerbacks.

“For me, I put it on the receiver. If you run a good route and your route is very detailed, it doesn’t matter … how much he’s grabbing on you, you’re going to get separation.”

Jones said UT has worked more on receiver versus defensive back drills to prepare for the contact.

Baiting Berry: Safety Eric Berry said there are usually more opportunities for takeaways against a first-year starting quarterback like Alabama’s Greg McElroy. That, however, doesn’t mean McElroy, who Berry describes as a game-management quarterback, is a pushover.

“That’s probably the hardest type of quarterback to go against is one that manages the game well, that can eat up the clock and get the first downs on third down and keep us on the field for awhile,” the junior said.

Crompton On Coverage: Quarterback Jonathan Crompton didn’t seem worried about Saban’s usage of multiple pass coverage variations.

“They can do all the wrinkles but we’re going to key who we’ve got to key,” the senior said.

Crompton said going against UT defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin helps the Vols prepare for a defensive coach like Saban.

“There’s a little bit (of similarities) but at the same time, there’s a lot of differences,” Crompton said.

Majors’ Motivation: Former UT coach Johnny Majors spoke to the team this week.

“The guys were very motivated by him,” Kiffin said. “For a guy that hasn’t coached in awhile, he can still grasp an 18-year-old’s attention. We love having him around.”

Berry Good: Berry was named one of 20 quarterfinalists for the Ronnie Lott Award, which is presented to the nation’s best defensive player based on on-field play and off-field contributions.

The award is named after longtime NFL defensive back Ronnie Lott.

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Comments » 30

smashmouth98 writes:

I don't wanna see Hancock in there if he is not getting any practice reps. we saw earlier in the year how that can be a disadvantage. I like the idea of rogan being the primary punt returner.

beachvol1 writes:

Go Johnny go...bring back the glory days to UT football....motivate them to the highest level...play guys like it is the last game of your life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

chrisw2967 writes:

If Crompton can pull off the type of game he had against Ga then Tn will be in position to win this game.

FWBVol writes:

With all the problems Johnny had beating Alabama he might be the last guy I'd bring in this week to get the team fired up. His record against Alabama was terrible and it seemed as if he always coached not to lose to Alabama rather than attacking as his teams normally did.

LiveFaith writes:

Is it me, or have about 75% of our punt returns been the returner allowing the ball to hit the ground and roll down field this year? Nuke could be a game breaker, but never seems to get the ball in his hands to break anything. Hopefully DR will make something happen. He's a great player for us.

Why has Eric Berry never been given the green light for punts or kickoffs? Am I missing something here?

Cherokee writes:

So the Ronnie Lott Award is named for Ronnie Lott? Okay, thanks...

caverunner writes:

Since when did Jones become the spokesman for the Vols? I would much rather hear from CLK and hear from him the teams progress and who will be doing what, than from a receiver that has had one good game but still needs to work on his routes and getting off blocks. watch him round off his cuts instead of making them sharp and crisp. If he worked on his game as much as his press time, he could be great!

GREATVOLSAFIRE writes:

Eric Berry on punt returns please! GO VOLS!!!!

GreerVol22 writes:

lets hope big Dan is healthy. He who runs the balls best will win this game. We need him in the middle messing things up.

Pdiddy10 writes:

eric berry has done a lot of stuff of the field...wanting to improve his city, and anyway he deserves the defensive player of the year. easily has the most tackles in the secondary in the sec but it high up there in the nation of tackles period. he knows how to hit. he picked off tim tebow. he can play cornerback, linebacker, safety, blitz, cover, defensive end, quarterback, punt return, and maybe running back. he can do everything

Ironcity writes:

in response to LiveFaith:

Is it me, or have about 75% of our punt returns been the returner allowing the ball to hit the ground and roll down field this year? Nuke could be a game breaker, but never seems to get the ball in his hands to break anything. Hopefully DR will make something happen. He's a great player for us.

Why has Eric Berry never been given the green light for punts or kickoffs? Am I missing something here?

Berry is to valuable to allow an opposing team to come down and blow right through him on a punt or kick return.

lomas98 writes:

Agree about lost yardage on the punt returns due to ball hitting ground instead of fair catching. Jonathan Hefney did the same thing his senior year and eventually lost his job to Rogan as well. Nukeese has been lucky not to have the ball hit him on a couple occassions by hurdling the ball and being indecisive. Nukeese is probably the most explosive, but he has to catch the ball first. I think he is best on kickoff returns.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to LiveFaith:

Is it me, or have about 75% of our punt returns been the returner allowing the ball to hit the ground and roll down field this year? Nuke could be a game breaker, but never seems to get the ball in his hands to break anything. Hopefully DR will make something happen. He's a great player for us.

Why has Eric Berry never been given the green light for punts or kickoffs? Am I missing something here?

I also have wondered why Eric Berry was not used on punt returns. I guess the rationale is that he is too valuable to put in such a vulnerable position. But, if he can return punts the way he returns interceptions…

pms151 writes:

CLK candidly admits that he doesn't know Tennessee football history. However that's no excuse for having Johnny Majors talk to your team during Bama week. Geez, all he had to do was ask Haywood Harris or Bud Ford! If there ever was a coach who could bring his team down a level or two when playing rivalries, Johnny was the man. (although Fulmer proved that he had expertly grasped that tactic later in his career)

CrankE writes:

In order for Rogan to see more time returning punts, our defense has to force punts. Right? Just saying.

Didn't realize Alabama was so far down the line on kickoff coverage. But maybe we should seek to limit their kickoffs to just 2 or 3.

Majors talked to the team!? A 4-12 coaching record against the Tide, and he's speaking to the team. Sigh.

Bigger_Al writes:

Majors talking to the team Alabama week? Given his 4 - 12 record against them, not sure about that.

He can probably still motivate, but let's not let him on the sidelines.

Bigger_Al writes:

Hey, check this out! SEC officials from the Florida - Arkansas game have been suspended!

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/20...

I personally think that the Bozo that threw the flag on that "personal foul" should have to turn in his uniform for good.

cybervol writes:

C'mon guys. Its not like he's giving the pregame speech. I think its great that a man who gave so much to Tennessee, is honored by this coaching staff. It speaks of character. Go vols

Docrok writes:

in response to CrankE:

In order for Rogan to see more time returning punts, our defense has to force punts. Right? Just saying.

Didn't realize Alabama was so far down the line on kickoff coverage. But maybe we should seek to limit their kickoffs to just 2 or 3.

Majors talked to the team!? A 4-12 coaching record against the Tide, and he's speaking to the team. Sigh.

Speaking and coaching are two totally different things! Kiffin is attempting to embrace TN's history and right now the only history willing to lend its support is Majors! While I see the connection you are trying to make, Majors is not under the stress of being a head coach going against his biggest rival! He is merely a former player/coach that loves UT and despises AL. And he can still inspire young men so I am all for it!

ThurmondEppy writes:

in response to pms151:

CLK candidly admits that he doesn't know Tennessee football history. However that's no excuse for having Johnny Majors talk to your team during Bama week. Geez, all he had to do was ask Haywood Harris or Bud Ford! If there ever was a coach who could bring his team down a level or two when playing rivalries, Johnny was the man. (although Fulmer proved that he had expertly grasped that tactic later in his career)

What a dumb thing to say. Johnny knows plenty about Tennessee football and tradition, having played and coached here. Probably just what this staff was missing this week since none of them have any ties to the University.

Docrok writes:

in response to Bigger_Al:

Hey, check this out! SEC officials from the Florida - Arkansas game have been suspended!

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/20...

I personally think that the Bozo that threw the flag on that "personal foul" should have to turn in his uniform for good.

This could be a good thing or a bad thing! Good in that we are less likely to see bad penalties and questionable calls! Also could be bad cause it could cut down on the flags thrown thereby allowing opposing teams to get away with flagrant penalties that would prevent UT players from making plays! For example Auburn was pretty blatantly holding TN defenders when they had the ball! Kind of nitpicky but on a third down play where an offensive lineman held to spring a back for a first down and extend a drive is huge! And I saw that alot against Auburn.

tennesseebee writes:

I bet it was inspirational, since Alabama played a bigger part in Major's demise than did Fulmer, (Johnny had a tough go against Bama). As far as returns, I sure like NuKeese's speed, but it's a matter of time before he coughs it up with his fielding carelessness. Would like Rogan to field it then run a reverse to Richardson. Yeah-h-h-h!

MusicCityVol writes:

www.checkerboardchatter.blogspot.com

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to GREATVOLSAFIRE:

Eric Berry on punt returns please! GO VOLS!!!!

Really. I don't see why not. I wish the coaching staff would explain to the fan base why EB is not returning punts. To me, he is the logical choice. There must be a reason the coaches don't have him do it, but I can't see it.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to Bigger_Al:

Hey, check this out! SEC officials from the Florida - Arkansas game have been suspended!

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/20...

I personally think that the Bozo that threw the flag on that "personal foul" should have to turn in his uniform for good.

Thanks for the link Bigger Al. This is welcome news, I'm glad at least something is being done. Hopefully, bad refs will be culled out of the pool and the SEC will have officiating worthy of the great football being played in this league.

Brillovol writes:

Unlike most Vol fans, I have no favorite between Majors or Fulmer. Having said that, I think the best motivational speaker for the Bama game would have to be 'ole Phil himself. Don't believe me? Look at their records against the Tide.

As for punt returns, I somehow feel safer with Rogan back there. Remember, he helped us avoid a losing streak to Vandy!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to civilianvol_formerly_marinevol:

I also have wondered why Eric Berry was not used on punt returns. I guess the rationale is that he is too valuable to put in such a vulnerable position. But, if he can return punts the way he returns interceptions…

Don't you think some opposing team might think it worth a 15-yard penalty and/or an ejection to take Berry's head off on a cheap shot on a punt return? "What fair-catch signal? I was just running down there trying to make a play."

johnlg00 writes:

in response to cybervol:

C'mon guys. Its not like he's giving the pregame speech. I think its great that a man who gave so much to Tennessee, is honored by this coaching staff. It speaks of character. Go vols

I agree. I wouldn't even mind if he gave the pre-game speech. When he was HC, Johnny had all year to hype the team into ineffectiveness over the Bama game(;-P)! A little context and emotion might well help; it's the grinding, day-in-and-day-out overemphasis that killed Johnny's teams against Bama.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Don't you think some opposing team might think it worth a 15-yard penalty and/or an ejection to take Berry's head off on a cheap shot on a punt return? "What fair-catch signal? I was just running down there trying to make a play."

That's a good point. On the other hand, alot of teams use players valuable to them in their offensive or defensive schemes to return punts. EB has great ball skills and great football speed, and he sure can be a shifty runner with the ball. I think he'd be a very sure-handed guy catching the punts. Oh, well, I guess that's something we're not going to see.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

That's a good point. On the other hand, alot of teams use players valuable to them in their offensive or defensive schemes to return punts. EB has great ball skills and great football speed, and he sure can be a shifty runner with the ball. I think he'd be a very sure-handed guy catching the punts. Oh, well, I guess that's something we're not going to see.

I get your point about some other teams using key guys to return kicks and I surely agree with what you say about Berry's potential as a returner. The thing is, there are very few players who mean as much overall to their teams as Berry does to UT. It would be a loss to any team to lose a starter to injury returning kicks but it would be DEVASTATING for UT to lose Berry that way. I'm not saying I don't muse about the possibility, but I would be amazed to actually see it.

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