Brent Brewer impresses with safety play

'He doesn't make the same mistake twice'

Tennessee linebacker Nick Reveiz (56), cornerback Brent Brewer (17), defensive end Malik Jackson (97), and linebacker LaMarcus Thompson (42) tackle Alabama's Mark Ingram (22) during the first half action Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010 in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

Photo by Michael Patrick

Tennessee linebacker Nick Reveiz (56), cornerback Brent Brewer (17), defensive end Malik Jackson (97), and linebacker LaMarcus Thompson (42) tackle Alabama's Mark Ingram (22) during the first half action Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010 in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

The honeymoon period for Brent Brewer is over.

Instead of taking questions solely about his transition from minor league baseball back to football, the freshman safety has emerged as one of the lone, healthy and stable voices to speak about the state of Tennessee's secondary, which has seen better days.

Expectations for the 22-year-old Brewer have quickly become high just three games after he took over as a full-time starter against South Carolina.

And he's largely living up to them.

Brewer led UT with eight tackles against Ole Miss, and has 20 during the past four games.

"He doesn't make the same mistake twice," coach Derek Dooley said. "When you see that, the more he sees, the more he plays, the more he gets experience, he's going to keep getting better and better and we've seen that every week."

Brewer, after slowly knocking the rust off from four years away from the football field, saw extended playing time against Alabama on Oct. 23 because of the Crimson Tide's penchant to run double tight end sets. He finished with six tackles and drew rave reviews - with a hearty dose of constructive criticism, of course - and found himself in the starting lineup the very next week when Prentiss Waggner switched to cornerback.

With Art Evans indefinitely suspended, Marsalis Teague missing two games with a turf toe injury and Eric Gordon missing chunks of time because of concussions, Brewer's reliability has proved not only to be a pleasant surprise, but vital in keeping the turbulence within the secondary at a relative minimum.

"The way he's progressed has been critical," Dooley said after Tuesday's practice. "Everybody who's playing pretty good has been huge."

In his early action, Brewer, who definitely looks the part of a safety at a solid 205 pounds, took some noticeably poor angles on tackles and had no trouble admitting it afterward. He appears to have fixed that problem, but said the quick, on-your-feet thinking required to properly defend passes is still a work in progress.

"He's always trying to figure out the new things because his football IQ isn't all the way like a person that has been playing football all these years," fellow safety Janzen Jackson said. "He's catching onto stuff and he's coming along very well. He's very smart."

Concussion Junction: Wide receiver Zach Rogers took one step forward at Tuesday's practice in his recovery from the concussion he suffered against Ole Miss, but Gordon did not, Dooley said.

"He's not doing that anymore," said Dooley, motioning his arm upward to recreate a line graph. "So we'll see how he is tomorrow."

Gordon suffered a concussion in the second quarter against Ole Miss and did not return. He also sustained a "light concussion" at some point during the South Carolina game on Oct. 30.

Gordon, who did not wear a red, non-contact jersey while Rogers did, said he "took another hit" at Tuesday's practice, but vowed to play Saturday (CSS, 7:30 p.m.) back in his hometown of Nashville against Vanderbilt.

"When I'm on the field, I'm just reacting. I'm out there playing," Gordon said. "I'm not thinking about an injury or nothing like that. It's not affecting me in any way right now."

Fulton Fix: Right guard Zach Fulton (ankle) performed well Tuesday, Dooley said, and "there's a good chance he can get settled back in at right guard."

With Fulton back at his position, Dooley said senior Jarrod Shaw would move back to left guard and rotate with redshirt freshman JerQuari Schofield.

Inside Out: The Vols attempted to practice outside Tuesday, but were forced to move indoors because of sloppy conditions caused by mid-afternoon rains.

"I didn't want any groin pulls," Dooley said. "I wanted to get a good practice in."

Dooley said the close proximity of Haslam Field to the indoor practice facility allowed the transition to go smoothly, and it may have even energized the players.

"As long as the spirits are up and they're hitting and they're popping and competing in those team periods when you go against the defense, then you can live with it," he said. "And then you need to polish up that execution on Wednesday."

Andrew Gribble covers Tennessee football and recruiting. He may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble/

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Comments » 11

USNVOL writes:

Nice job Brent.
I hope you flush a few commode dores on Saturday

PUL4VOLS writes:

Glad Brewer is making the most of playing time and improving. Keep it up man we will need you the next two Saturdays to step up and make big plays. Take those rbs to the ground.

abnermc writes:

How many years does Brewer have left?

bluetick writes:

Brewer has been noticeable since he hit the field really. He's in on a lot of plays. Can't wait to see him down the road along with others like Jacques Smith. This team is going to be rocking in a couple of years.

nocleats writes:

Heres hoping Brewer gets after Vandy in a big way. Attack Attack Attack!

bearbull95#206250 writes:

I think that the last real good athlete who came to us after a stint in baseball was Kelly Washington. However, unlike the "me-first & only" attitude which was divisive to the team, Brewer seems to adding cohesion and stability to a young, inexperienced, but talented secondary. Go get'em, Brent! GBO!

Ayres_Hall writes:

The Kelly Washington saga was allowed to happen by the guy leading the staff. These kids can't hype themselves without the program's leader allowing it or even encouraging it. So I don't blame Washington for the mess he was credited to have caused. Kinda like the Bryce Brown saga, as well.

Brewer seems to be a great pickup, so far. He gets better every week and has the size and talent to play in the SEC.

1974Vol writes:

in response to vol1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your assessment of the language usage is correct Vol1, but you may not be correct in attributing the error to Dooley. The statement is not in quotation marks and is therefore a paraphrase of the coach’s statement. The error may indeed be that of Gribble the articles writer.

volman444 writes:

please please temper the dramatic. the guy is not a play maker and not a stud. watch the film of the games where we played quality teams. he never ever used his helment and got physical. maybe he can be in the future but the film doesn't lie. he's going to have to get physical before he can be a stud. gbo

Tau_of_Tennessee writes:

in response to 1974Vol:

Your assessment of the language usage is correct Vol1, but you may not be correct in attributing the error to Dooley. The statement is not in quotation marks and is therefore a paraphrase of the coach’s statement. The error may indeed be that of Gribble the articles writer.

We may never know. As concerns another pressing grammatical conundrum; should the sentence "The error may indeed be that of Gribble the articles writer.", actually be, article's writer. I’m just asking. I struggle with possessives and would opt for 'Gribble the writer of the article’. Where is an English teacher when you need one? You never know where a grammar dispute is apt to break out.

Juzkruzin writes:

in response to vol1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Do you have a birth cerficiate? I thought this was a site to post items about football. If I wanted a blog site for English, I would search for one, but I decided to go to a football site to read blogs about football or post items regarding football, especially the BO. So if you are really a member of the human race, stick to the bloging of BO Football. Free speech don't always apply on this site!!

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