Defense proud to be 'ball hawks'

2 interceptions returned for TDs

Tennessee defensive back Prentiss Waggner tackles Ole Miss wide receiver Korvic Neat at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010.  The Vols defeated the Rebels 52-14.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee defensive back Prentiss Waggner tackles Ole Miss wide receiver Korvic Neat at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010. The Vols defeated the Rebels 52-14.

Game-day recap: Tennessee-Ole Miss

One was thrown late. Another was an overthrow.

But don't expect to hear any complaints from Tennessee's defensive players or coaches.

A UT secondary that's been battered on the field by poor performances and off the field by injuries and little depth had its best game of the season Saturday afternoon, returning two of its four interceptions for touchdowns in the Vols' 52-14 romp over Ole Miss at Neyland Stadium.

"I say it every week, that's the key," UT coach Derek Dooley said of the five turnovers UT forced.

"It's also sometimes an indication of how locked in you are. I tell the team, 'You create your own luck. Teams aren't lucky, they create it.' They create it by playing fast (and) they create it by playing with confidence."

Cornerback Eric Gordon intercepted Ole Miss quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and raced 46 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, and Prentiss Waggner - playing his third game at corner since moving from safety - ran one back 10 yards for a third-quarter score.

"I consider myself a ball hawk," Waggner said. "That play was pretty much instinct. I saw the D-line get a lot of pressure on the quarterback. I knew it was going to be a slip-screen and I jumped it."

"Prentiss," Dooley said, "he's an instinctive guy. He's always around (the ball). Eric, he's a scrapper. (Masoli) served one up to him and he took advantage of it. To do that, you've got to be playing confidently and put yourself in position.

"I think some guys have a knack. Sometimes you can be too aggressive and you give up a big play, but Prentiss seems to have a pretty good knack."

Janzen Jackson intercepted Masoli's deep pass into double coverage in the third, and former Austin-East High School star Anthony Anderson got one late against Ole Miss backup Nathan Stanley. Brent Brewer led the Vols with eight tackles.

"We talk about it in practice, playing aggressive no matter the lack of depth we have in the secondary," said Waggner, who became the first UT player ever with three interception-return touchdowns in a season. "We attacked the ball and we happened to make a lot of big plays.

"We know we can make those plays, we're all great athletes."

UT (4-6, 1-5 SEC) entered the game ninth in the SEC in pass defense (240 yards per game), but held the Rebels (4-6, 1-5) to 99 yards with Art Evans still suspended and Marsalis Teague playing through a nagging turf-toe injury.

The Vols added three sacks and held Ole Miss to just two of 12 third-down conversions.

"When (the secondary) has a big day, D-line has a big day," end Malik Jackson said. "With the sacks we have, and the picks they had with our pressures, everybody was together, everybody wins."

Added receiver Gerald Jones: "Very proud of them. They played a very good game coverage-wise and even tackling-wise. Hard work paid off."

UT took advantage of some poor throws and poor decisions by Masoli, the former Oregon star who was a game-time decision after suffering a mild concussion last week.

"We knew he was going to play," Dooley said. "We never even prepared for the other guy. The defense did a phenomenal job of keeping him in the pocket, making him throw out of the pocket, we didn't break contain.

"He's a special player and he can do a lot of things, but we played fast and we took advantage of some opportunities that he gave us."

UT held Brandon Bolden (12 carries for 113 yards) to 32 second-half yards as UT's lead ballooned and forced the Rebels to abandon the SEC's second-best ground game.

"If we could keep pulling away a little bit and hold that run game down, then we get them into doing things that they're not comfortable doing," Dooley said. "When you make a team play left-handed, it gives you a better chance."

"It's easy for us to pass-rush," end Chris Walker said, "when you have guys back there that are ball hawks."

Patrick Brown is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 44

USNVOL writes:

Great game Vols, Go Big Orange.

RespectTradition writes:

The secondary played really well tonight. I was very proud of em. Keep up the good work boys!

Go Vols!

rockytopatl writes:

Waggner already has a school record for pick sixes in a season. He's only a sophomore. He will be an All-American next year.

HtownVol writes:

We need J Jackson, hope he is OK

volpreacher writes:

Any word on how Maurice Couch liked things today?

wildmed writes:

Looks like the Memphis game was more than smoke and mirrors. We may be seeing the emergence of a real star in Tyler Bray. Now I'm excited about the great receivers we'll have back next year as well as the recruits coming in. GBO!!

CharlotteVol writes:

Great to see the D bring the heat for 4 quarters! Bray executing as QB has lifted the level of play for the whole team - everyone now has confidence that they can compete on both sides of the ball. GO VOLS

Govolsps writes:

I'm sure the recruits/possible recruits enjoyed that game. I know we had several key recruits at the game.

RoadTrip writes:

We can get back to the SEC game quickly. Watching the game chickens dismantle the unmighty gators in Gainesville reminds me just how far they are falling. Where, oh, where is little gator ZZ boy troll now?! He who spoke of the great Brantley that would be better than Timmy. What goes around come around.

Urbie will be checking back into the hospital for indigestion again soon.

Go Vols!

USNVOL writes:

in response to Govolsps:

I'm sure the recruits/possible recruits enjoyed that game. I know we had several key recruits at the game.

Sure hope that you are right.
I was just wondering where all the Gator trolls are tonight,maybe they are laying low since the Gators are getting thier azzes handed to them by SC,28-7.
Go Gamecocks,beat the Swamp Lizzards 100-7 .
I'am loving it!!!
Life is good the vols kick the ole pisses azzes and the Lizzards are getting thier azzes waxed.

USNVOL writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

We can get back to the SEC game quickly. Watching the game chickens dismantle the unmighty gators in Gainesville reminds me just how far they are falling. Where, oh, where is little gator ZZ boy troll now?! He who spoke of the great Brantley that would be better than Timmy. What goes around come around.

Urbie will be checking back into the hospital for indigestion again soon.

Go Vols!

Hey Road Trip,
Did you see old Urbie throw his head set?
You are right he will be back in the hospital
after this game.
SEC1 where are you little girl...troll?

britt writes:

always a good day when you defense scores as much as the opposing offense

utjunkie writes:

The Defensive staff done a heck of a job in this game with a defense that has little or no depth.

coach799 writes:

Bray was much sharper last week, imo. He missed several opportunities today, but we were clicking everywhere else. I like his confidence.

GO VOLS!! Beat Vandy!!

USNVOL writes:

in response to USNVOL:

Great game Vols, Go Big Orange.

Hey SEC1 where are you....?
In case you havn't heard the score of the ball game that your lizzards are a part of(a very small part)....its SC 36 your gators 14 !!!
I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!

Ironcity writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

Waggner already has a school record for pick sixes in a season. He's only a sophomore. He will be an All-American next year.

Easy there big fellow!

OldNumber7 writes:

There must be a mistake!!! Teams with inferior recruits are going to Atlanta while Bama and Florida stay home. I demand an explanation !!!

murrayvol writes:

in response to OldNumber7:

There must be a mistake!!! Teams with inferior recruits are going to Atlanta while Bama and Florida stay home. I demand an explanation !!!

Parity.

PUL4VOLS writes:

If the team I saw in Knoxville today shows up the next two weeks, we will be 6 - 6. Not counting unhatched chickens but we played great today. Of course Bray was sharper last week. It was the Memphis D, big difference from Ole Miss'. I am glad Poole got over a hundred again. If he gets a thousand with this year's line, I may have to buy his jersey. On a sour note, how much longer do we have to watch Janzen Jackson almost turn the momentum away from us on punt returns? He scared me to death. We need him on defense so I hope he's okay. But I am so happy we are still alive for a possible bowl. GO VOLS!

volpreacher writes:

in response to OldNumber7:

There must be a mistake!!! Teams with inferior recruits are going to Atlanta while Bama and Florida stay home. I demand an explanation !!!

I thought it was automatic, 5* recruits across the board. that guarantees championships. Ask Texas about this too. They have a top 5 class every year usually in top 2 or3 and their record is the same as ours.

volpreacher writes:

in response to utjunkie:

The Defensive staff done a heck of a job in this game with a defense that has little or no depth.

I think they've done well most weeks. The difference in the last couple games is the fact the offense is moving the ball giving the defense a chance to rest some. It makes a world of difference especially when you are playing with a depleted roster. Go Vols!

VolinCalif writes:

I think we've found the secret. Lets start the 2nd Qtr at 21-zip. If we can d that we'll sure run the table. Bray is sure a spark plug.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to USNVOL:

Hey Road Trip,
Did you see old Urbie throw his head set?
You are right he will be back in the hospital
after this game.
SEC1 where are you little girl...troll?

Yes I did USNVOL! I have two answers for why they are what they are. Dan Mullen and Charlie Strong. He had Timmy last year to carry the load, yet, you could tell they were heading south on offense then. Their defense has a few talented players, but are middle of the road at best overall.

So he brings back Text King Rainey to try to get some extra offense and what happened when it mattered? Zippo. See ya! What will be fun is to watch is how he rationalizes everything.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to OldNumber7:

There must be a mistake!!! Teams with inferior recruits are going to Atlanta while Bama and Florida stay home. I demand an explanation !!!

Great post! Stevie Superior and Clean Gene didn't get the memo from Slime.

BillsBrother writes:

in response to volpreacher:

Any word on how Maurice Couch liked things today?

There was a Tweet from Couch shown in the GVX that stated something to the effect, "I could really see myself here."

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

It's really very simple...HYPE and football MARKETING.

The recruiting star ranking system is mostly to keep fans more interested and to give them more to talk about during the offseason and to try and keep the motivation and $$$ flowing into the programs.

Every year we see many teams with lots more 4* and 5* players lose to teams that rank much lower on recruiting day and Florida, AlaBummer, Texas, USC and other teams this season continue to prove that.

Many of the 4* and 5* recruits are also prima donna type kids that think they're the greatest and are owed things and never dedicate themselves and work as hard as they should to keep learning and growing but when they go head to head against 2* and 3* players that work their butts off to keep improving they find out that their star ranking means nothing at the next level.

More 3* recruits coming into the college game make it to the NFL than 4* and 5* recruits do every year.

I think that Bryce Brown is a great example of the failure of the star ranking hype because he was put ahead of Tauren Poole last season just because of his star ranking but when he faced the tough SEC teams and got the phooey knocked out of him and saw that he would never be a good SEC running back the ONLY thing he wanted was OUT of the tough SEC by any means he could find so he could go play against teams that aren't as tough as the SEC teams are.

I'll take hungry, motivated, hard working 3* players over lazy, prima donna 4* and 5* players every time.

TCU, Boise State and many other teams are simply PROOF that always getting more 4 and 5 star recruits never guarantees the W's on the field.

GO BIG ORANGE!!!

FatherVol writes:

in response to OldNumber7:

There must be a mistake!!! Teams with inferior recruits are going to Atlanta while Bama and Florida stay home. I demand an explanation !!!

I guess the "stars" weren't aligned correctly, so maybe this isn't the dawning of the age of aquarius....

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

We can get back to the SEC game quickly. Watching the game chickens dismantle the unmighty gators in Gainesville reminds me just how far they are falling. Where, oh, where is little gator ZZ boy troll now?! He who spoke of the great Brantley that would be better than Timmy. What goes around come around.

Urbie will be checking back into the hospital for indigestion again soon.

Go Vols!

Ride the Gators and little zz all you want.I'm all for that.He deserves all that is thrown at him.However,please do not make fun of someone with health problems.Life is more precious than anything on earth.I know that first hand.Be a better sport than that.

BillyVol writes:

I was at the game, the defense turned this into a rout. You are right, Bray not as sharp, but slinging it out. Hunter will be in the offense a lot more from here on.

TKG_VOL writes:

Did anyone see any TN - Miss. highlights on any of the ESPN or ABC channels last night. I watched and flipped channels all night and never saw a one after the game was over. Are we being snubbed by ESPN or were there not any justified highlights. I thought there were plenty.

volsgirl writes:

I need ticket for Vandy ?

Bufforange00 writes:

everyone but d-mo and g-gun back on offense next year. We will be explosive. If UT can get several defensive tackles and a middle linebacker, they could challenge for the SEC.

OrangePride writes:

Actually, I thought one of Nutt's biggest errors was his abondonment of the ground game. The running backs had excellent success in the first quarter and we were really struggling even with 7 in the box. So giving up on that and going to the pass where they were having one disaster after another was curious. One pick-6 is tough to recover from, but 2 is a mountain. Of course, his questionable game management was our good fortune and give these VOLS credit for being focused and athletic enough to take advantage of it. A great day to be a Tennessee Vol!

givehim6 writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

We can get back to the SEC game quickly. Watching the game chickens dismantle the unmighty gators in Gainesville reminds me just how far they are falling. Where, oh, where is little gator ZZ boy troll now?! He who spoke of the great Brantley that would be better than Timmy. What goes around come around.

Urbie will be checking back into the hospital for indigestion again soon.

Go Vols!

A quick qestion with UF having lost four games now I know they Florida ST. is on there schedule this could be a loses for them who else do they play?

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to volsgirl:

I need ticket for Vandy ?

Just walk around Vandy's campus for about 5 minutes. Can probably find one for $3. The snobs on West End don't use them anyway.

givehim6 writes:

in response to givehim6:

A quick qestion with UF having lost four games now I know they Florida ST. is on there schedule this could be a loses for them who else do they play?

After looking it's App. ST. You know if UT wins out and GT beat UGA UT will be 3ED in the east.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to givehim6:

After looking it's App. ST. You know if UT wins out and GT beat UGA UT will be 3ED in the east.

GT has absolutely nothing to do with how the East standings play out.It is what you win or lose in your respective conference that determines the conference standings.

OrangePride writes:

in response to TKG_VOL:

Did anyone see any TN - Miss. highlights on any of the ESPN or ABC channels last night. I watched and flipped channels all night and never saw a one after the game was over. Are we being snubbed by ESPN or were there not any justified highlights. I thought there were plenty.

Absolutely not. I did hear the score given out once, but no highlights or video. I guess they have put us in the "not very important" game bin for now. But just wait, I believe we will be much more relevant, very soon. GO VOLS!

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

anyone have a guess as to how much 2 tickets may cost from scalpers at the Ky game? Would like to go to that one.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Fantastic job, defense!!! Forced 5 turnovers and 2 of those returned for TD's so "ball hawks" is an excellent choice of words..I heard on the DD show today that we have forced 10 turnovers the last two games.

Plus, someone else pointed out in another post that Wilcox owns Masoli..That is evident because he had Masoli's number today.

It will be interesting to see how well Wilcox does with a full alottment(sp) of players...I say you will see a lot of performances like this yesterday and probably some even better.

mercyseat writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

Waggner already has a school record for pick sixes in a season. He's only a sophomore. He will be an All-American next year.

If he could only cover in space he would really begin to get better

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

in response to TKG_VOL:

Did anyone see any TN - Miss. highlights on any of the ESPN or ABC channels last night. I watched and flipped channels all night and never saw a one after the game was over. Are we being snubbed by ESPN or were there not any justified highlights. I thought there were plenty.

The game was broadcast by CBS. I could be totally wrong, but I get the impression that ESPN doesn't do much with games that it does not broadcast. When I went to the ESPN web page, it did not even list the score for Tennessee/Mississippi.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Thanks, Naval.

Volsfan94 writes:

in response to Bufforange00:

everyone but d-mo and g-gun back on offense next year. We will be explosive. If UT can get several defensive tackles and a middle linebacker, they could challenge for the SEC.

Is Stocker a Senior?

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