Martin's versatility a plus at defensive end

Tennessee is perfectly happy with Ben Martin where he is.

Considering his blend of size and speed, the junior could easily move back to linebacker if the Vols needed him to. And after briefly showing off some impressive skills in coverage, Martin at least looked comfortable in the secondary as well.

He might not really be able to play anywhere on the field, but Martin has proved to be a versatile threat heading into Saturday's game with Ohio (TV: VideoSeat PPV, 7 p.m.), and he's found a regular home in the lineup at defensive end.

"I think it's came to me," Martin said. "I've been studying my playbook more. I'm just really into my playbook now and studying the other team so I kind of know what's coming, or what I expect to come, faster. So when it does come, I'm not surprised.

"I just go out there and try to play hard every down and whatever happens, happens."

Martin turned that work into a couple good things against No. 1 Florida last week, coming up with a sack that covered 14 yards, assisting on another tackle and making a big play downfield in which he looked more like a safety than a lineman.

With the Gators in the red zone and driving in the second quarter, Martin dropped back into coverage during a zone blitz and tried to take away a route by Riley Cooper along the sideline. There still was an opening for quarterback Tim Tebow to try to fit the ball in, but at the same time it got there, so did Martin.

"I saw Tebow look away, I think he was trying to look me off to pull me away, but my job was to get under the route and I just kept dropping," Martin said. "Then I saw him throw the ball so I just broke on it. Luckily I broke up the pass."

Fellow end Gerald Williams faced a similar play earlier in the season and didn't get the same result. Martin's ability to defend the pass has helped get him on the field more lately.

The fact he can slow it down by getting to the quarterback doesn't hurt, either.

"I think he's comfortable and learning the defense," defensive line coach Ed Orgeron said. "He was injured in a camp a little, but I think he's coming around.

"That was a heck of a play (against Florida). That's something that we work on every day. (Defensive coordinator) Monte (Kiffin) brought that defense in and we work it, got drills for it and he's done a good job of it."

Martin appears to be a perfect fit in that defense all over the field.

But the starting point seems to be set up front.

Health Nuts: The Vols weren't at full strength during Thursday's outdoor practice. But UT coach Lane Kiffin expects most of the players limited in the workout to be available this weekend.

Defensive lineman Wes Brown was again held out as a precaution for his aching knees but should play against Ohio, and the defense also should have linebacker LaMarcus Thompson in the lineup despite his sore back. Thompson took part in practice and moved around well enough to play, though Greg King likely will get the start.

Injuries also have taken a toll at the back of the unit, and a decision hasn't been made who will start at cornerback opposite Dennis Rogan.

"(Brent Vinson) is doing well," Kiffin said. "He may not start, but he's doing well. Art (Evans) has laryngitis, and I think he'll play. We'll see. That'll probably be a game-time decision that will obviously affect Brent's playing time.

"We think Brent's a special player when he's consistent and his mind is right. We just have to keep him focused at times."

Fresh Starts: UT again had a Thursday practice that featured some do-overs, including most of an early offensive period that had to be restarted midway through. But the Vols didn't have as many issues as they did last week, and the opponent might have had something to do with it.

"I don't know that we've necessarily done that much better," Kiffin said. "We did not have a very good Thursday (before Florida), we had to repeat a bunch of stuff. Today was better. This (Ohio) defense also is not quite as complicated, especially on third down, as the last defense was. That has a lot to do with having so few repeats.

"We've worked very hard this week, especially with creating competition, and these guys understand it has a lot to do with how they play Saturday."

Quarterback Checks: The performances on Saturday might not have been the most consistent, but offensive coordinator Jim Chaney feels like he's getting an even effort from his starting quarterback in the days leading up to the weekend.

"I think (Jonathan Crompton) has done a wonderful job," Chaney said. "Every week he does the same thing - he comes to work, he studies his butt off, he understands the game plan better than most.

"I'm excited about watching him play on Saturday, and I'm anticipating him having a wonderful game."

Still Learning: Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has been indoctrinated in the spread offense and will see it again from the Bobcats. But they'll add one more wrinkle the coaching veteran hasn't faced much before with their Pistol attack that features a running back behind the quarterback in a shotgun formation.

"I didn't even know what it was until I got here," Monte Kiffin said. "Every week it's something new."

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Comments » 23

vol_chaz writes:

Chaney's comments are positive, but I'm sure he's aware that #8 is on pace to beat the all time vol INT record by 10. If he can turn it around, it'll start this week.

VolFan1012 writes:

not gonna say it...

VolGraduate writes:

I wouldve been first but I had the swine flu

GahLee writes:

What a joke Ole Miss is....lol.

ibvolman writes:

SC will beat UF.

Write it down

xvolx writes:

Rogan is not good enough cover man to play corner. takes bad angles as a run stopper.

givehim6 writes:

in response to ibvolman:

SC will beat UF.

Write it down

Old Miss or USC looked good. I do hope USC beats UF. Unless Old Miss improves before UT plays them that will be one of our 8 wins.

UTVOLSFAN4LIFE writes:

I know this has nothing to do with Martin's versatility. Stephens should be given a shot. If for no other reason than to slow the Craptons down and keep Tennessee from setting a record.
Most Passes Intercepted Season - 34 - John Eckman, Wichita St., 1966

QB_10 (Inactive) writes:

Coach Chaney- i will give you the benefit of the doubt since you coached Drew Brees, but please this guy is not a gamer and you are correct he does do the samething every week, he throws to the other team...mya copa...that is the wide receivers fault

"I think (Jonathan Crompton) has done a wonderful job," Chaney said. "Every week he does the same thing - he comes to work, he studies his butt off, he understands the game plan better than most.

bigaldaddy writes:

Why wasn't he "in" the playbook before. Come on guys. Focus.

CoverOrange writes:

I think I figured it out! JC works hard all week then goes to sleep Friday night. Then the pod induces a coma and morphs into a JC look-a-like pod person and plays like a zombie on Saturday! He/it fooled everyone, including Chaney!

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to VolGraduate:

I wouldve been first but I had the swine flu

Now, that's funny!!! lol
GBO!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to QB_10:

Coach Chaney- i will give you the benefit of the doubt since you coached Drew Brees, but please this guy is not a gamer and you are correct he does do the samething every week, he throws to the other team...mya copa...that is the wide receivers fault

"I think (Jonathan Crompton) has done a wonderful job," Chaney said. "Every week he does the same thing - he comes to work, he studies his butt off, he understands the game plan better than most.

Does "mya copa" = "mea culpa"(;-P)? Not really meaning to pick on you, but I see a lot of that sort of thing these days. Someone half-hears an expression, but, because they don't read much, they've never actually seen it in print and so write it wrong. One major example of this: the expression "should OF". It's "should have", but since it's often heard and written as "should've", the "ve" is taken as equivalent to "of" instead of to "have". Here endeth today's grammar/usage lesson. You're welcome(;-P)!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to brownsvillevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That is exactly why I think we have a good chance against Ole Miss even at their place. I think they lost two O-linemen who are now in the NFL and their replacements haven't caught up. Snead CAN throw the ball, but he will be running for his life all night against our defense. The MAIN thing for us is to keep McCluster from burning us while we're chasing Snead. That guy can really scoot!

micbrooks#212023 writes:

What I would love to see is our WR's doing more hook patterns where they come back to the ball. This makes it much harder to intercept the pass.

huntined#565710 writes:

in response to jcvet:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bad play calling for them also..3rd and 2 and they throw a 40 yard pass that had 3 defenders covering their only receiver on the play.. Also ole ball coach tough at home..S.C will not beat the Gators.and they will not beat BAMA..

Volunatic writes:

in response to VolGraduate:

I wouldve been first but I had the swine flu

Excellent work.

Volunatic writes:

in response to xvolx:

Rogan is not good enough cover man to play corner. takes bad angles as a run stopper.

I disagree.
Rogan has great football instincts, and is a sound tackler. Monte Kiffin agrees with me.

VolFanInMO writes:

Laryngitis?

johnlg00 writes:

Coming in as a 5*, it seems to have taken Big Ben a while to "get it". Maybe the two staffs he has played under couldn't decide how best to use him. In any case, he seems to be contributing now. UT is building a defensive juggernaut; hope the offense catches up soon.

BreweryVol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Coming in as a 5*, it seems to have taken Big Ben a while to "get it". Maybe the two staffs he has played under couldn't decide how best to use him. In any case, he seems to be contributing now. UT is building a defensive juggernaut; hope the offense catches up soon.

In his defense he went from playing linebacker to plaing End. Plus he had to learn a new system this year. He is only a Junior and to play SEC calibur defense it takes two years to mature physically and mentally.

Volunatic writes:

in response to BreweryVol:

In his defense he went from playing linebacker to plaing End. Plus he had to learn a new system this year. He is only a Junior and to play SEC calibur defense it takes two years to mature physically and mentally.

He was a DE at LaSalle HS. He was 220 lbs his senior year according to Scout and Rivals, though-- kind of light for a college DE.
It's good to see him performing well this season.

cloudodust writes:

in response to Volunatic:

He was a DE at LaSalle HS. He was 220 lbs his senior year according to Scout and Rivals, though-- kind of light for a college DE.
It's good to see him performing well this season.

Erk Russell made a living out of using the smaller type of agile, mobile and hostile defensive players.

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