Rogers well aware of his weak spot

Tennessee  quarterback Tyler Bray (8) congratulates wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers (21) after a touchdown in the first half Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 against Memphis in the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

Photo by Michael Patrick

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray (8) congratulates wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers (21) after a touchdown in the first half Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 against Memphis in the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

The weakness in his game right now is no secret to Da'Rick Rogers.

Clearly the Tennessee coaching staff is aware of it, as well.

But even if the freshman wide receiver is admittedly a work in progress as a route-runner, the rest of his strengths make it hard for the Vols to resist finding other ways to get the ball in his hands. So until the expected growing pains are over, in games like Saturday's against Ole Miss (TV: WVLT, Noon), Rogers will take handoffs, return kicks and continue to rely mostly on raw talent and creativity to help spark the UT offense.

"Once I feel like I get my route-running down pat, it will all come into place," Rogers said Wednesday during his first meeting with the media this season. "Right now we're just trying to get the ball in my hands because we have a lot of athletes, a lot of young players that can all make plays. We've got to find a way to get everybody the ball so we can make plays.

"You can never get sick of touching the ball. But at the same time, the same play seems to work, so keep running it."

That productive play for Rogers has been simply handing it to him on end-arounds, where on just nine carries he's picked up 66 yards with most of that damage coming over the past couple weeks.

The effectiveness with the football is not a surprise given his unique blend of size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) and speed (4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash), and recently the Vols (3-6, 0-5 SEC) have turned over kickoff-return duty to him to take advantage of it even more. Eventually UT will get it to him through the air the way it has always intended, and though he only had one catch for 22 yards last week against Memphis, it went for a touchdown and was a legitimate sign of progress to the coaching staff as it prepares for the Rebels (4-5, 1-4).

"This kid has a lot of tools," wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett said. "It's just a matter of putting what they know and what they think about in their head to their feet, doing it full-speed. A lot of times when you don't know and you're unsure, you're not as fast.

"I think on the touchdown against Memphis, it was an example of him running fast and making a play. I think the more that he understands that and the more that he feels comfortable, the more that he's going to do that. And that's what it's all about."

UT didn't expect him to come in as a finished product as a route-runner, and Rogers didn't hesitate to call that the area where he has the most work to do.

But that's not an indictment of his pure talent catching the football, which he puts on display regularly during open portions of practice with acrobatic, one-handed grabs. And he's also not the only one having that problem, either, since the other true freshman making an early impact has a similarly straightforward game plan each week.

"When you've got some young guys, you've got to create ways to get it to them," Vols coach Derek Dooley said. "Justin (Hunter) is not a good route-runner, either, and we just say, 'Run down there and we'll throw it up - jump up and get it.'

"Learning to be a good route-runner takes time. It's one thing to know what to do, and then the trick is how do you do it well because there are so many different looks. It's not like you just run straight 10 yards and take a right. There's so much learning about leverage of a defender, the depth of the defender, the speed of the defender and how to work him and get open."

Creating that space was much easier in high school and took far less thinking, a fact he figured out quickly when preseason training camp didn't go all that well.

A slow start to the season reinforced the lesson, but he appears to have figuratively turned a corner in terms of preparation. And it hasn't hurt his confidence any that he's literally done it with the ball on reverses lately, too.

"Oh, it definitely tested my patience," Rogers said. "It takes a little bit to get used to it, because in high school you're used to being that man right from the get-go.

"Now you have other great players and you have to work into a system and have to work on everybody getting the ball for it to work out right."

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 42

BigVolFaninSC writes:

Keep working Da'Rick! We're counting on you EVEN MORE next year when the seniors are gone! We can see the improvement from week to week though! Keep it up! GoVols!!!

Cartersvillevol writes:

By this time next year, UT's receiving corps will be the strongest in the SEC.

TurboVol writes:

in response to Cartersvillevol:

By this time next year, UT's receiving corps will be the strongest in the SEC.

Agree !! Pretty darn excited to watch this group grow.

lomas98 writes:

I don't want to reply to the above post because it will show up again in the thread, but is this AlvinToles character serious??

Volsfan94 writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

what the heck are you talking about? this is about Da'rick....

volfan4life1998 writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What in the world are you talking about? This article is about Darrik Rodgers. Not Zack Rodgers. Wow... Some of the people on the site never cease to amaze me..

BigVolFaninSC writes:

in response to lomas98:

I don't want to reply to the above post because it will show up again in the thread, but is this AlvinToles character serious??

I think it was an attempt at humor, but I didn't laugh.

FWBVol writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey Genius, read the story before going off on it. You just showed your complete ignorance with the post.

The story is about DaRick Rogers, not Zach Rogers.

FEARinSEC writes:

uhhh......

FEARinSEC writes:

Sorry, was going to reply to Alvin the genious, but was sooooo dismayed by his complete lack of of intelligence, I just couldn't get anything else out!! WOW!!!

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to lomas98:

I don't want to reply to the above post because it will show up again in the thread, but is this AlvinToles character serious??

Nope, that's a chain jerk if I've ever seen one.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Te, he, he, he, he,.....tongue in cheek.....funny.

Laydbakvol writes:

In response to AlvinToles:

"Nonsensical Gibberish"

Idiot! (On so many levels)

OrangePride writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

OK.......what am I missing here? The article is about DaRick Rogers not Zach....two different people. But I agree that Dooley is attracting some high quality athletes and I'm confident in his ability to do even more. As for Zach, I think he is only a sophomore, so he could improve and be much more help as we go forward. I remember a LOT of posts telling us how Luke S., when he was a soph., couldn't catch, was a waste of time, had untimely drops and whatever.....he has turned into a very productive Tennessee Vol..be patient there Alvin, better days ahead. GO VOLS!!

Volsfan94 writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

it's DA'RICK. not derrick

wazzya69vol writes:

in response to Volsfan94:

what the heck are you talking about? this is about Da'rick....

I agree, what does this essay have to do with Da'rick? I need a drink! GBO

orangecountyvols writes:

First of all, surely you aren't THE Alvin Toles.
I saw him play many games and I strongly doubt he would be talking like this.

In fact, it's a good bet the real Tennessee players
( and there are a few on here ) kinda' just sit and chuckle. They are the ones who know football first hand and are probably amused at a lot of the Monday morning quarterbacks and wanna-be coaches here.

They don't have to play the games on computers...........they did it on the field.

TommyJack writes:

This is absurd. And not particularly funny.

Denvervol4life writes:

Alvin, just stop and go flush your head in the toilet.

RoadTrip writes:

Hey, KNS - can we just start this thread all over again. My head hurts after reading this...

VolinCalif writes:

in response to volfan4life1998:

What in the world are you talking about? This article is about Darrik Rodgers. Not Zack Rodgers. Wow... Some of the people on the site never cease to amaze me..

Now Now you guys . AT said up front he didn't read this art.
so why bash him for having the wrong name. He appears to be a Vol and not a troll so lets just have fun with his mistakes,

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ok, thanks for clearing that up. But, for what it's worth, I am not a fan of Zach Rogers either. He has admitted he gets nervous and I appreciate him owning up to it. He has good speed, but he should have gone to a smaller school like UTC.

Ideally, we could sign talent like Da'Rick and redshirt them. It really does take awhile to adjust to route running. WR is tough for true freshmen.

CollegeParkVol writes:

in response to OrangePride:

OK.......what am I missing here? The article is about DaRick Rogers not Zach....two different people. But I agree that Dooley is attracting some high quality athletes and I'm confident in his ability to do even more. As for Zach, I think he is only a sophomore, so he could improve and be much more help as we go forward. I remember a LOT of posts telling us how Luke S., when he was a soph., couldn't catch, was a waste of time, had untimely drops and whatever.....he has turned into a very productive Tennessee Vol..be patient there Alvin, better days ahead. GO VOLS!!

I'm pretty sure it's a backhanded slap at KNS for running an article on Sunday after the Memphis win about Malik Jackson but the headline of the story read "Janzen" Jackson.

Nice one Alvin, I get it.

FWBVol writes:

I think Naffy has created an alter ego so he can communicate with himself and agree with his own theories about the great players in UT history.

hueypilot writes:

I remember Alvin, so he must have played in the helmet era. Maybe this is his dad, who played before helmets.

PUL4VOLS writes:

Da'Rick has come on quite well. He's the Rogers in question here. I am glad he is doing well and expect him to do more in time. The good news is we have plenty of receivers with experience as we close out the remainder of this season and look to next year. NOW, let's go hunt some Bear and tear it up at Homecoming Vols. I, along with others on here, Love to watch them Vols!

nola_vol writes:

Wasn't Da'Rick on campus this summer? Maybe I'm wrong about that.

I hope I'm wrong because summer voluntary practices are where receivers learn their route trees and develop precision in running them. If Da'Rick was here last summer and is still not reliable... that would a bad sign for his future development.

Or maybe it's his defensive reads that are holding him back. Does anyone know if Chaney's offense requires receivers to change routes often based on D reads?

ctownvol writes:

This site needs an enema.

codybain13 writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

what the heck does his brother have to do with anything???

TommyJack writes:

in response to ctownvol:

This site needs an enema.

AlvinToles = Naffy on roids.

tennrich1 writes:

What do youz guys mean....Naffy IS a roid!

OrangePride writes:

in response to CollegeParkVol:

I'm pretty sure it's a backhanded slap at KNS for running an article on Sunday after the Memphis win about Malik Jackson but the headline of the story read "Janzen" Jackson.

Nice one Alvin, I get it.

Really? Really??? Well, if so, and you could be right because there is scant other reason, then this is the lamest post of the day. Whatever.....thanks for trying to help.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to Volsfan94:

it's DA'RICK. not derrick

Right it's Derrick Dooley and Da'Rick Rogers. Alvin maybe sipping some moonshine

STEELMAN4VOLS writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

didn't Bates go on to play for the Cowboys in the NFL? and Preist was a good player in his day-not very flashy but did his job

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Maybe you should have read the article. It was not about Zack Rogers.And how do you know so much about some guy you called Arlette.Who in the heck is that? Tennessee got a commitment from a guy named Arnett.You should read more and open your mouth less.Only phooey comes out when you open your mouth.Grow up man,then you may be taken serious.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We may have a real deal going but we are not all clueless as you say.Some posters here are really prety intelligent. That dosen't include you ,at least not at this time.

nola_vol writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Right it's Derrick Dooley and Da'Rick Rogers. Alvin maybe sipping some moonshine

FYI: I noticed one of the UT beat reporters asked Da'Rick recently about the pronunciation, and he said it's "DAY-RICK"

boroviathaochvolsfan writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Since you have already been blasted about not reading the article I am going to blast you about not knowing the recruits name that we were able to get....it is DeAnthony ARNETT!!! But yes you are right he is a great athlete and should help us tremendously!!

OrangeAppeal writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Nice try, Naffy.

iowavol writes:

in response to getsimmsout:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I couldn't agree more. Zach is supposed to be the fastest on the team. His hands are suspect. But that hit was solid and the dude went down. We need more of that on defense.

HtownVol writes:

Wow, that fool got destroyed for not reading this story and saying all that about lil Rogers.

Did he not know we recruited a Rogers that is in a whole different league than lil Rogers?

And he is OK..LIL ROGERS, He does what he can. I am happy that he will play his role and not be needed to perform more than that.

Hunter, Rogers and Arnett!

SLOBBER_knocker_U writes:

in response to AlvinToles:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

EPIC FAIL!!! Good Lord man! How many times can you FAIL at a post???? It's not AUSTIN ROGERS! It's DA'RICK ROGERS AND ZACH ROGERS! And this whole story is over Da'rick not Zach!

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