Got depth? UT appears set at linebacker

Injuries made last season a tough one to be a Tennessee linebacker.

But with nearly the entire cast returning intact, that negative could turn into a positive.

“What we went through last year, it helps us with our depth this year,” senior LaMarcus Thompson said after Tuesday morning’s practice.

“A lot of young guys got to get in there and got to play. With everybody back and everybody healthy, that’s going to help our linebacker depth, hopefully have that be a strength.”

The challenging season began when Nick Reveiz, the defense’s quarterback, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Ohio. Four games later, Savion Frazier — his replacement — also tore his ACL.

Herman Lathers, then a redshirt freshman, was thrown into the fire, starting the last five games despite a blood disorder that required offseason spleen-removal surgery.

Those were just UT’s middle linebackers.

Thompson missed two games himself at outside linebacker, one coming after he was immobilized and carted off the field on a stretcher with a scary neck injury late in the fourth quarter of UT’s loss to Ole Miss

“We (weren’t) where we wanted to be last year as a unit,” said Lathers, a All-SEC Freshman selection last year.

“It’s always tough to see one of your teammates go down cause they’re like a brother to you,” Thompson said. “You feel it inside, and you just have to be there for them to get them back right and get them back healthy.”

But the unit’s clean bill of health isn’t all that has UT’s linebackers feeling good entering the season.

The return of linebacker coach Lance Thompson has eased the transition from former coordinator Monte Kiffin’s defense to current coordinator Justin Wilcox’s new schemes.

“Just having our same position coach and knowing how he coaches and what he expects of us is a big help to us as a unit,” Lathers said. “He was able to relate a lot of Coach Wilcox’s defensive calls to Monte’s calls, and we were able to pick up from there.”

“As far as his teaching style,” said Reveiz, “he does such a great job of (being) open to questions, why we do this, why we do that. He’s very big on mental reps.”

Thompson’s return was even more special for Reveiz.

“Coach Thompson was a guy personally, too, that with my injury, a lot of coaches push you away when you get hurt,” he said.

“He brought me in when I was hurt. He really built me up and made me feel so a part of it as far as helping the younger guys. He’s done tremendous work in my life.”

Patrick Brown is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 47

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

First! There! It's out of my system for good!

Go Vols!

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

Even if the D-Line is a little fragile, which I seriously doubt, I think we're going to have a solid Defense. With an entire LB Corp back and with our Secondary, I bet we pull off 9 wins. BOOK IT! It's FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE AND IN GERMANY!!! Go Vols! Let's kick some tail!

Bigger_Al writes:

I think this article was weak on using names to define the depth. I know of Reveiz, Lathers, Frazier, and Thompson. I also know of the potential of Greg King, which was omitted from the article, so that's five names for three positions, not even two deep. Who else is expected to contribute? Askew? Mitchell-Thornton? Nelson? Any true freshmen?

TommyJack writes:

in response to Bigger_Al:

I think this article was weak on using names to define the depth. I know of Reveiz, Lathers, Frazier, and Thompson. I also know of the potential of Greg King, which was omitted from the article, so that's five names for three positions, not even two deep. Who else is expected to contribute? Askew? Mitchell-Thornton? Nelson? Any true freshmen?

Hey, it's only a cub-reporter.

Bigger_Al writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

DaddyVol writes:

We have a secret weapon...just waiting to be unleashed.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

LaMarcus Thompson is going to be a great LB, I think.

BTW...wasn't UT working on some video-game (madden style) software to use for its players?? I would sweat I read that year or so ago.

nocleats writes:

in response to DaddyVol:

We have a secret weapon...just waiting to be unleashed.

Hush! No one is supposed to know about that.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to Volunteer-Varmint:

Even if the D-Line is a little fragile, which I seriously doubt, I think we're going to have a solid Defense. With an entire LB Corp back and with our Secondary, I bet we pull off 9 wins. BOOK IT! It's FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE AND IN GERMANY!!! Go Vols! Let's kick some tail!

Tn sportsman, is that you??? LOL..Just kidding...you have the same optimistic attitude that he has..Be optimistic with caution in this site..IMO, I say anywhere from 6-6 to 8-4..And nine wins gets CDD coach of the year.

volzcrushm writes:

in response to nocleats:

Hush! No one is supposed to know about that.

...the invisable Raynoch Thompson clone!! YES!! Oh darn, i let it out... sorry guys.

Vols1998 writes:

The LBs will need to be the anchor until the DL get some experience under their belts. Without witnessing the DL, I believe most teams will test UT's ability to stop the run and then set us up with a play action.

GBO!! lay the wood LBs

mtowntim writes:

12-0 I’m not going to admit defeat until I see conclusive and irrefutable video evidence!
GO VOLS!!!

BigOrangeBill writes:

All you negative posters...every single day!! Get a life. What possible good does all these negative posts do? And a lot of them are not just from trolls.... Go put on your Orange and White and go look in the mirror.

Digital5000 writes:

in response to allVolinGA:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

A sieve??? We have our best DE back, our best DT back, a DE from USC, and enough big bodies to throw in the other takle position.

I havent seen up play a team with a running attack yet, so until then...Sieve???

Enjoy Yourselves-

Digital5000 writes:

We are loaded at DE, even with Martin out, and DT's just plug up holes and try not to get moved.

Im almost more worried about the LB's rather than the D-Line. Even with injuries, there is much more talent in the d-line.

Where is Jerod Askew and whats his status??? I thought he was going to be a big-time LB.

Orange_Juiced writes:

in response to nocleats:

Hush! No one is supposed to know about that.

might you mean we are taking our defensive scheme and transposing the numbers...to say it in as much code language as possible? That could be the answer to depth issues at DT. Don't know if it can be done in 4 weeks of practice though.

Ayres_Hall writes:

The salaried reporters at KNS are refusing to write because Coach Dooley is restricting them from practice and giving them very little to report. So the freelance guys, like Patrick, are throwing anything together with the hope they'll get published.

Good for you, Patrick.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to wallandhiker:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well, we still call you 'mentally challenged' when there is not mental to challenge....

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to WEAREBETTERTHANVANDY:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

well, was thinking about it the other day in relation fo Tyler Bray...but it would be good to have for other positions too, anywhere you have to make reads.

voloffaith writes:

in response to wallandhiker:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

you mean we won't display at Walmart?

On topic, linebackers are ok...game conditions are harder than practice when coming back from a serious injury. Mentally ready for being hit harder than delivering one. Reveiz I believe will be relentless.It's the others playing loose that I'm looking to see. Go Vols!!!

MemphisVol1485 writes:

in response to Bigger_Al:

I think this article was weak on using names to define the depth. I know of Reveiz, Lathers, Frazier, and Thompson. I also know of the potential of Greg King, which was omitted from the article, so that's five names for three positions, not even two deep. Who else is expected to contribute? Askew? Mitchell-Thornton? Nelson? Any true freshmen?

Austin Johnson and Daryl Vereen.

NeylandWest writes:

I'm curious to see if we're gonna mix things up a little and run some 3-5 schemes. Isn't that what Wilcox used to bust up the spread attacks?

Will that translate in the SEC? I'm curious to see how he schemes for pro-style offenses - yes, I'm speaking of Bama and, to a lesser extent, an unproven UGA QB.

Our depth in the DT slots worries me, but I'm not doubting Chuck Smith for one second. That dude could motivate a 9 year old girl scout to stop a gap or at least die trying.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to NeylandWest:

I'm curious to see if we're gonna mix things up a little and run some 3-5 schemes. Isn't that what Wilcox used to bust up the spread attacks?

Will that translate in the SEC? I'm curious to see how he schemes for pro-style offenses - yes, I'm speaking of Bama and, to a lesser extent, an unproven UGA QB.

Our depth in the DT slots worries me, but I'm not doubting Chuck Smith for one second. That dude could motivate a 9 year old girl scout to stop a gap or at least die trying.

It kinda still comes back to our O-line and our QB's. If we can control the ball enough, depth on D can be negated. I know when I played ball, I NEVER wanted to sit out a play.

This is so much more unknown than last season...I think Wilcox may struggle some, but he will adjust. Like it or no, Kiffin had a great staff and our kids played hard all but 2 games..that is the best we can measure CDD right now, as he doesn't have as much player experience as Kiffin had.

NeylandWest writes:

in response to always_vol:

It kinda still comes back to our O-line and our QB's. If we can control the ball enough, depth on D can be negated. I know when I played ball, I NEVER wanted to sit out a play.

This is so much more unknown than last season...I think Wilcox may struggle some, but he will adjust. Like it or no, Kiffin had a great staff and our kids played hard all but 2 games..that is the best we can measure CDD right now, as he doesn't have as much player experience as Kiffin had.

Very true. I was a TB/CB and played both ways and prayed to sit out from time to time simply b/c I was out of gas. My heart was in it, but my ability/energy begged to differ ;) It'll be good for our guys to have some long/extended drives.

Ball protection and chain movement will be HUGE this year. Not saying I like 3 Yds and a cloud of dust, but that could've been the difference in a Terrence Cody blocked FG and a few extra yards for a shot at the 'zone.

n2thecheckerboards2 writes:

in response to wallandhiker:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I disagree, this is Tennessee. I expect good seasons every year no matter what.

VTTFMF writes:

in response to Orange_Juiced:

might you mean we are taking our defensive scheme and transposing the numbers...to say it in as much code language as possible? That could be the answer to depth issues at DT. Don't know if it can be done in 4 weeks of practice though.

Have you ever watched or played football?? A 3-4 scheme requires MORE large bodies on the defensive line than a 4-3 so switching to that would help nothing.

hikerdude writes:

in response to wallandhiker:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree. I want to win all 12, but that is completely unrealistic. We should win 4, have a good chance of winning 5, and with a little luck could win 6. If we win more than that, Dooley should be coach of the year.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

when was the last yr. we had 8 wins? Is this year's team as good as that one was?

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

in response to DaddyVol:

We have a secret weapon...just waiting to be unleashed.

Robert Nelson? Can't wait to see that guy lay some wood.

UTByrd writes:

As long as the offense can maintain control of the clock as well as not turn the ball over, Coach Wilcox's defense will hold up quite well.
I suppose the defensive coordinators on the opposing teams are already suffering headaches.
Let the media keep talking negatively about UT, just as long as our players use it as a positive.
I smell a couple of upsets, UF AND Bama.
Go VOLS!!!!!

tnsportsman writes:

in response to ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog:

Tn sportsman, is that you??? LOL..Just kidding...you have the same optimistic attitude that he has..Be optimistic with caution in this site..IMO, I say anywhere from 6-6 to 8-4..And nine wins gets CDD coach of the year.

LOL, no but I love the way GermanyVol thinks! THE BIG ORANGE will win at least 8 games, BOOK IT!

This defense will be good and our offense will control clock! ITS FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!

PS: GermanyVol is that my bud that sat with us in Section S and came to our Tailgate at G-10?

LETS GET IT UP VOLNATION!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

tnsportsman writes:

in response to Volunteer-Varmint:

Even if the D-Line is a little fragile, which I seriously doubt, I think we're going to have a solid Defense. With an entire LB Corp back and with our Secondary, I bet we pull off 9 wins. BOOK IT! It's FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE AND IN GERMANY!!! Go Vols! Let's kick some tail!

YOU GO GERMANYVOL! Glad to have you on board with the wins! At least 8 wins BOOK IT!

ITS FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE and in G-10 parking at the tailgate! Come see us in G-10!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

LOL, no but I love the way GermanyVol thinks! THE BIG ORANGE will win at least 8 games, BOOK IT!

This defense will be good and our offense will control clock! ITS FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!

PS: GermanyVol is that my bud that sat with us in Section S and came to our Tailgate at G-10?

LETS GET IT UP VOLNATION!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

May I join your tailgate at G-10??? Tell me where it is located and I will try to find you..My husband and I have tickets to the UAB game so let me know.

TnTravelerVol writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

when was the last yr. we had 8 wins? Is this year's team as good as that one was?

The last time we won exactly 8? Not sure? 2006 is the best example. We were 9-4 in 2006. I think our WRs are as talented as them. I got to see Meachem and Swain run circles around California and it was awesome. We are solid at running back. There is a lot of uncertainty just like there was in 2006. We had just come off a 5-6 season in 2005, Ainge was injured the previous year against ND, and we had a different offensive coordinator than the prior year (although a very familiar one returned). No I don't believe as a whole we are as good as that team, but we aren't horribly worse either. I'll put down a 7-5 regular season. Go Vols

TnTravelerVol writes:

in response to TnTravelerVol:

The last time we won exactly 8? Not sure? 2006 is the best example. We were 9-4 in 2006. I think our WRs are as talented as them. I got to see Meachem and Swain run circles around California and it was awesome. We are solid at running back. There is a lot of uncertainty just like there was in 2006. We had just come off a 5-6 season in 2005, Ainge was injured the previous year against ND, and we had a different offensive coordinator than the prior year (although a very familiar one returned). No I don't believe as a whole we are as good as that team, but we aren't horribly worse either. I'll put down a 7-5 regular season. Go Vols

8 win seasons in 2002, 2000, and 1994. Two of those years I was in college at UTK and drinking a good bit. Its a little hazzy. Clausen was a pretty good qb too. No were aren't as good as those years, but we'll be fine this year.

Juzkruzin writes:

in response to ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog:

Tn sportsman, is that you??? LOL..Just kidding...you have the same optimistic attitude that he has..Be optimistic with caution in this site..IMO, I say anywhere from 6-6 to 8-4..And nine wins gets CDD coach of the year.

I bleed Orange and White, but I hope your predications come true. I would say 4-8 will be a strech. Hope I am wrong, but what good is an offense that scores 30 points a game (maybe) but gives up 42. A good offensive game to watch, but a L is a L. Come the end of the season I hope I am eating crow and a big plate full, but I just don't think it is in the cards this year!!

abnermc writes:

in response to grvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Kiner, Lucci,Emanuel,Fisher

osbymartin#581730 writes:

in response to TnTravelerVol:

The last time we won exactly 8? Not sure? 2006 is the best example. We were 9-4 in 2006. I think our WRs are as talented as them. I got to see Meachem and Swain run circles around California and it was awesome. We are solid at running back. There is a lot of uncertainty just like there was in 2006. We had just come off a 5-6 season in 2005, Ainge was injured the previous year against ND, and we had a different offensive coordinator than the prior year (although a very familiar one returned). No I don't believe as a whole we are as good as that team, but we aren't horribly worse either. I'll put down a 7-5 regular season. Go Vols

10-4 in 2007

abnermc writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

YOU GO GERMANYVOL! Glad to have you on board with the wins! At least 8 wins BOOK IT!

ITS FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE and in G-10 parking at the tailgate! Come see us in G-10!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

We're in G-15 & walk thru G-10 i think

Orange_Juiced writes:

in response to VTTFMF:

Have you ever watched or played football?? A 3-4 scheme requires MORE large bodies on the defensive line than a 4-3 so switching to that would help nothing.

Well yes to both but obviously not to the extent you have Mr. vttfmf. I suppose I was thinking that some of the bigger DEs could play DT with the biggest guys at nose and with 3 guys on the line it gives you more depth in the rotation. Not ideal I know, but then again I am not there to see the dynamics of our D-Line. It is, however, not an unreasonable proposition.

But since you are obviously there and witnessing the dynamics of this squad, I will give you the props. One thing I will not do is call your abilities and knowledge of things into question because I do not know what they are. I will, on the other hand, try to respect your opinions.

voloffaith writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

How about sayin' tnmantravel#531151 say...the _kEMO is not like the Wdoc ure a copying. There I have spoken...oooh that does feel powerful. Just kiddin. Creativity is nice when it is your own and not borrowed or copied....Doc would say something about bones telling the truth. Anyway nite gents outa here

tnsportsman writes:

in response to ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog:

May I join your tailgate at G-10??? Tell me where it is located and I will try to find you..My husband and I have tickets to the UAB game so let me know.

Hey Guys,

You have mail here on GVE about tailgate! See you there!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

TnTravelerVol writes:

in response to osbymartin#581730:

10-4 in 2007

Correct you are. But we aren't really comparable to that UT team. Had captain clutch erik ainge not thrown two fourth quarter picks to LSU in the SEC title game, we would have won that game.

LiveFaith writes:

in response to tweetdriver63#346474:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It is. The 3-4 success depends on 3 big "down" linemen, whereas a 4-3 requires 2 bigs and often allows 2 smaller/quicker ends that can often stand up.
Regardless, I think the 1-6 is the only scheme that we have depth for at the moment. :-)

DannyVol writes:

in response to BigOrangeBill:

All you negative posters...every single day!! Get a life. What possible good does all these negative posts do? And a lot of them are not just from trolls.... Go put on your Orange and White and go look in the mirror.

Good post, Bill! Especially the last line. If we are not a front-runner in the national race, a lot of these clowns point fingers and talk nothing but negatives. Sounds like you know how to be a Tennessee fan, sir. Go Vols!

QB_10 (Inactive) writes:

A few points, a great group of kids playing Linebacker and on this Defense. However, in a few weeks it will all come together. This team is tryign to figure out their identity. At least with Kiffin their was a little edge/cocky attitude which you need in this game. Not sure this team has it or will have it 2010. Not expecting miracles, but if they fight hard and stay united for the season that is a positive--winning is contagious, but losing is more contagious.

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

Lathers was a RS Freshman when he got the call to play middle LB last year, responsible for reading the plays for the other D-backs. I recall one play when he stood staring forward as the play went to his left side, looking as if he had missed it completely. In an instant, he saw the RB and hammered him with a sure tackle. Phil calling Lathers cat-quick was an understatement; he looked like Clark Kent. How Lathers closed that space and made that tackle is something that I could not understand. I saw it happen, so I know it did happen. But it looked impossible.

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