Vols taking a pass at balance

Dooley 'needed to shift a little bit philosophically'

Dooley: A shift in the offensive balance

Collectively, the Tennessee offense represents about as close to perfect balance as there is in the SEC.

But take a smaller sample size and focus on the last two games and the picture changes drastically.

The Vols officially still show up on the stat sheet as a team with a slight preference for the running game, but they've certainly put a big dent in the play-calling ratio since installing a new quarterback. Now the Vols are suddenly airing it out with regularity.

That's not exactly a coincidence, though the change in approach had been in the works even before Tyler Bray started scorching defenses.

And if opponents are also a factor, UT coach Derek Dooley probably won't go out of his way to even out his offense on Saturday (CSS, 7:30 p.m.) against struggling Vanderbilt in a game he needs to keep bowl hopes alive.

"You know, during that open week prior to Alabama, it was really a good time to evaluate where we were, where we needed to go during the second half, who was going to give us the best chance to win the games down the stretch, and I think there was a shift then," Dooley said during his Monday news conference. "We have some senior perimeter guys, and we've got to get them to do it.

"I felt like we needed to shift a little bit philosophically. We did it a little bit against Alabama, and we saw some good things. Then we did it some more against South Carolina and saw a lot of encouraging things."

The Vols (4-6, 1-5 SEC) took those positives and then piled on a lot more throws with Bray under center, and even more good things came with it as the offense rolled up a combined 102 points - including 52 last Saturday against Ole Miss - and the first winning streak of the season.

And while UT hasn't exactly abandoned its running game - tailback Tauren Poole has carried the ball just 28 times over the last two weeks - the scales have decidedly tipped towards the receivers. Heading into the trip to Vanderbilt (2-8, 1-6), the Vols officially have run the ball 10 more times than they've thrown it - but against Memphis and Ole Miss they dialed up 13 more passes despite tacking on carries late in both blowouts.

"I feel like (offensive coordinator Jim) Chaney is going to take what the defense gives us," tight end Luke Stocker said. "If the defense loads eight guys in the box, we're going to throw the ball. If they put seven in the box, we're going to run the ball. I think whatever we're doing well that particular day, he's going to stick with it. It just seems the past few weeks we've done well at passing the ball, and our quarterback has been playing great.

"We had success running the ball early in the season, Tauren exploded against Oregon and he ran well against Alabama. It's just one of those things, it's consistency and we've been up and down a little bit. We found a little niche in the passing game here the past few weeks and it's done well for us."

It hasn't hurt that UT has been attacking defenses not known for strong play in the secondary, which has obviously influenced the game plan along with the emergence of Bray and the steady production from Stocker and fellow seniors Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore.

The true test of the developing trend might come against the Commodores, since they're last in the league in rush defense and giving up exactly as many yards per game through the air as Ole Miss.

"Our run game wasn't what we wanted it to be, we weren't getting consistency in our play-action pass game as far as protection and probably weren't running it well enough to scare people to hurt them in the play-action game," Dooley said. "There's been a little shift, it's not a secret.

"Then certainly when Tyler went in it makes it even more pronounced because that's his strength."

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 » 28

psychovol2 writes:

Dooley said it was going to be an exciting brand of football.

OldNumber7 writes:

Just do whatever wins the game. Teams are more prone to shut down the run and force a team to win through the air than the other way around. So win through the air if that's what it takes! If Tennessee keeps building credibility in the air, teams will have to respect the passing game....which they haven't since the mid-late 90's.

ncvol17 writes:

Let's pass for 3 TD's and run for 3 TD's against Vandy..Balance.

born2ride writes:

UT owns Vandy. Does not matter which sport. We are better.

This game will be another blow out just like Memphis, Martin & Ole Miss. Even when the Vols are down they can still beat Vandy.

55-10 Orange

OrangeinCarolina2 writes:

Obviously the run and the pass complement each other and each opens up the field for the other. We certainly have enough talent in both areas to keep us from being one dimensional. Now that the offensive line has a little experience and is beginning to gel, I think we'll see an increase in production in both areas. It doesn't hurt to have a gunslinger like Bray running the offense either(Not putting down Simms-appreciate his toughness). GO VOLS!

tnsportsman writes:

"The true test of the developing trend might come against the Commodores, since they're last in the league in rush defense and giving up exactly as many yards per game through the air as Ole Miss."

Well there it is about the Commode-a-dores! Run it down their throat and throw it as well!

VOLS stay focused and protect the damn ball like the last 2 games! BEAT the commode-a-dores!

GO VOLS, WE ARE THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE!

PUL4VOLS writes:

Let's watch the "we always beat Vandy" talk. I was there when we weren't down a few years back and they beat us. It is not highly likely this Sat. We just need to make sure our guys don't go in not respecting Vandy and thinking we have it. A few teams this year like Texas and Florida made some assumptions which just did not pan out. Let's go give it our best guys. You can do it pass, run, special teams, in every way; play your best because we are behind you 100%.

wycoller writes:

in response to ncvol17:

Let's pass for 3 TD's and run for 3 TD's against Vandy..Balance.

Add 3 more TDs for the defense and special teams. Just want to make sure we have enough balance---and points.

OrangePride writes:

To be honest, I and everyone in my section was surprised at how we came out so heavy in the passing game last Saturday. It seemed we threw 3 out of every four plays..........but it was successful! More than successful, it was knockout city! So throw away the "balanced attack" playbook and just bring it! Whatever the defense is giving up, we TAKE. And OBTW, we have not seen a passing attack that could go this vertical in years! How sweet is this? GO VOLS!

CarthageVol writes:

in response to OrangePride:

To be honest, I and everyone in my section was surprised at how we came out so heavy in the passing game last Saturday. It seemed we threw 3 out of every four plays..........but it was successful! More than successful, it was knockout city! So throw away the "balanced attack" playbook and just bring it! Whatever the defense is giving up, we TAKE. And OBTW, we have not seen a passing attack that could go this vertical in years! How sweet is this? GO VOLS!

I thought the same thing. It seems like we didn't have to have 70% completion percentage because we are attacking more "vertical" with big chunks of yards. As long as our avg/comp is what it is, keep it up. I don't remember that much vertical attack in the last several years. And thank the Lord we aren't trying to complete six 'behind the line of scrimmage' passes anymore. We've got the best WR's that we've had in a while therefore allowing the downfield attack. Cut would settle for that behind the line stuff and it made me sick. What's Chaney going to do with an experienced line, QB, tailbacks, and WRs? I do believe the sun is coming up again. Go Big Orange!!!!! Everyone close to Nashville needs to try to attend if you can. I think we beat Vandy 65-0 Peyton and Brandon's freshman year. Please correct me if I'm wrong, because I know you will. Don't have time to do the research.

CarthageVol writes:

in response to CarthageVol:

I thought the same thing. It seems like we didn't have to have 70% completion percentage because we are attacking more "vertical" with big chunks of yards. As long as our avg/comp is what it is, keep it up. I don't remember that much vertical attack in the last several years. And thank the Lord we aren't trying to complete six 'behind the line of scrimmage' passes anymore. We've got the best WR's that we've had in a while therefore allowing the downfield attack. Cut would settle for that behind the line stuff and it made me sick. What's Chaney going to do with an experienced line, QB, tailbacks, and WRs? I do believe the sun is coming up again. Go Big Orange!!!!! Everyone close to Nashville needs to try to attend if you can. I think we beat Vandy 65-0 Peyton and Brandon's freshman year. Please correct me if I'm wrong, because I know you will. Don't have time to do the research.

Just checked Wikipedia, and I was spot ON!!!! Boy, wouldn't 65-0 be sweet again?!

HtownVol writes:

4 WR's and Poole and Bray in the Backfield. Run that formation 50 % of plays and Bray will pick apart a lot of Defenses.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

Probably Memphis and Ole Miss thought they could load the box and force the freshman QB into mistakes! Instead, he burned them for TDs! Since Vandy is bad at both run and pass, it will be interesting to see!

Hey, I remember a pre-game fight in one of the tunnels one year...The Vols piled up a 48-0 shut out and James Stewart, Aaron Hayden and Mose Phillips ALL gained over 100 yards each!!! THAT was a woodshed WHOOPIN'!!!

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to PUL4VOLS:

Let's watch the "we always beat Vandy" talk. I was there when we weren't down a few years back and they beat us. It is not highly likely this Sat. We just need to make sure our guys don't go in not respecting Vandy and thinking we have it. A few teams this year like Texas and Florida made some assumptions which just did not pan out. Let's go give it our best guys. You can do it pass, run, special teams, in every way; play your best because we are behind you 100%.

I agree. I grew up in Nashville and know how much Vandy wants to take us down. Of course, in 2006, Jay Cutler was running their offense and their defense was one of the best in the conference. This year their offense is one of the worst in D-1 and their defense has suffered too many injuries to stop the run or the pass. However, SEC road games are always tough and honestly, we're just not good enough to take anybody for granted. Let's stay focused and get another win. Go Vols!!!

joseph_kibler#212421 writes:

Some say that Bray is lucky and Simms is just as good, but when you watch the play of the two QB's Bray seems to have that sixth sense of pressure. It seemed as though Simms was suprised when the pressure got to him. Bray makes one step and it buys him a second more to find that open receiver. It's fun to watch.

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

in response to PUL4VOLS:

Let's watch the "we always beat Vandy" talk. I was there when we weren't down a few years back and they beat us. It is not highly likely this Sat. We just need to make sure our guys don't go in not respecting Vandy and thinking we have it. A few teams this year like Texas and Florida made some assumptions which just did not pan out. Let's go give it our best guys. You can do it pass, run, special teams, in every way; play your best because we are behind you 100%.

What made up game did you attend? They beat us in 2005 when Rick Clausen was our Quarterback and we finished the season 5-6... That was the year we were preseason #3 in the country and barely beat UAB (17-10). We were very down that year. Our defense was great but our offense couldn't get a yard to save their lives. If you don't consider 5-6 down, then idk what to tell you. GBO.

Volways writes:

in response to ncvol17:

Let's pass for 3 TD's and run for 3 TD's against Vandy..Balance.

I like your thinking!

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to CarthageVol:

Just checked Wikipedia, and I was spot ON!!!! Boy, wouldn't 65-0 be sweet again?!

I'll settle for scoreing one point more than Vandy.

jdcdjc writes:

in response to PUL4VOLS:

Let's watch the "we always beat Vandy" talk. I was there when we weren't down a few years back and they beat us. It is not highly likely this Sat. We just need to make sure our guys don't go in not respecting Vandy and thinking we have it. A few teams this year like Texas and Florida made some assumptions which just did not pan out. Let's go give it our best guys. You can do it pass, run, special teams, in every way; play your best because we are behind you 100%.

I agree, we have a lot of wins, but if you will remember some of them didn't come easy. Vandy will scrap us till the end, but I love the big "mo" this team has going.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Over the years we were run first;pass second..Every coach proclaimed we would have a strong running game..I like the way Chaney is passing on first down but he might consider putting a HB back there to disguise whats coming..Our play action package is a joke seeing as how the HBack is 3 yards away from Bray when he holds the ball out..I realize it's hard to execute play action from the shotgun and I guess there is a reason Bray doesn't take many snaps from under center..I just miss the days of watching Peyton stand in the pocket with the ball behind him while the LB's stood frozen and confused.Watching the Vandy/Kitty game; Vandy's defense did pursue well and stuff them for a loss quite a bit but Cobb was brilliant and like many others they couldn't stop them..The Vols game plan will be similar;Pass to open up the run..Our defense will probably live in Vandy's backfield and their QB might not make it out alive.

BAFLETCHER writes:

This is another good article that should have made the cut:
http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/20...

murrayvol writes:

"Nothing is quite as exciting as winning" - Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant - circa 1970

monsterman writes:

I remember when TN was known as wide reciever U with Willie Gault, Peerless Price, etc...I like to see it looking like that again. It is only natural that the running game will open up if you stretch the D all over the field.

I like it! Go Bray, be the man they brought you here to be.

Pompey writes:

in response to ncvol17:

Let's pass for 3 TD's and run for 3 TD's against Vandy..Balance.

....sorry but that is not enough points.....try again!

LifetimeVolFan98 writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Over the years we were run first;pass second..Every coach proclaimed we would have a strong running game..I like the way Chaney is passing on first down but he might consider putting a HB back there to disguise whats coming..Our play action package is a joke seeing as how the HBack is 3 yards away from Bray when he holds the ball out..I realize it's hard to execute play action from the shotgun and I guess there is a reason Bray doesn't take many snaps from under center..I just miss the days of watching Peyton stand in the pocket with the ball behind him while the LB's stood frozen and confused.Watching the Vandy/Kitty game; Vandy's defense did pursue well and stuff them for a loss quite a bit but Cobb was brilliant and like many others they couldn't stop them..The Vols game plan will be similar;Pass to open up the run..Our defense will probably live in Vandy's backfield and their QB might not make it out alive.

He's a Freshman...give it time. Manning was a Freshman once too - tall and lanky. Another yr in the system and an additional 20+ lbs and Bray will really be a man among boys

CoverOrange writes:

in response to ncvol17:

Let's pass for 3 TD's and run for 3 TD's against Vandy..Balance.

In the first half. In the second they'll reverse it and run for 3 and pass for 3 more.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Let's just bust their azz and play everybody.

It'l be cool in Dudley Field Sat night.

shorttail writes:

the defense dictates what play the offense runs, i'm glad we're passing more, 3 weeks ago we would run the ball on 3rd and 3 with 11 defenders in the box GO VOLS air it out

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