Focus on freshmen: First-year receivers will get action thanks to injuries

Tennessee's Denarius Moore gets past UT Martin defender Derek Welch for  a 42-yard touchdown pass reception during the second half Saturday, Sep. 4, 2010 in Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Michael Patrick

Tennessee's Denarius Moore gets past UT Martin defender Derek Welch for a 42-yard touchdown pass reception during the second half Saturday, Sep. 4, 2010 in Neyland Stadium.

Vols on Oregon: 'One heck of a challenge'

Dooley, Simms recap UT Martin

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Tennessee can't afford to be patient with its true freshmen.

With at least one senior wide receiver definitely out of the lineup and the other questionable, youth will have to be served for the Vols this weekend.

Neither Justin Hunter nor Da'Rick Rogers have officially moved to the top of the UT depth chart heading into a marquee showdown with No. 11 Oregon on Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m.), but the broken hand that has sidelined Gerald Jones and the walking boot protecting a tender ankle for Denarius Moore could force a quick maturation for the highly touted youngsters.

"It's not a question of, 'Are they ready?' " quarterback Matt Simms said Monday at UT's weekly news conference. "They better be ready.

"It's going to be tough on them, there's going to be a lot asked of them. I'm going to be tough on them in practice and make sure that they're lined up right and doing the right things. They need to step up and make plays."

In terms of receptions, the tandem has only made one play so far - a 9-yard catch for Rogers in the easy win over UT Martin to open the season. But both have earned praise as run-blockers, and Hunter threw a big one against the Skyhawks to help spring a touchdown for Tauren Poole to give both receivers something to feel good about early.

And though training camp wasn't perfect for either player, for the most part they've lived up to the lofty expectations that have followed them since they signed with the Vols in February. But now they'll need to back that hype up in an actual game much earlier than UT might have expected.

"Well, Zach (Rogers) will start (for Jones), and he'll do good," coach Derek Dooley said. "But the freshmen, yeah, we're going to have to bring them along a little quicker than we anticipated. But that's why we signed them, because we don't have a lot of depth and that's kind of where we are at that position. It's really sort of a microcosm of a lot of other positions - we have some seniors and we have some freshmen, so that's where we are.

"They didn't really have a lot of opportunity (last week). Da'Rick caught a pass, which is always good to get that first one under your belt. He looked calm and it seemed very simple, but he looked good doing it. Once (backup quarterback) Tyler (Bray) went in, especially in the fourth quarter, I just didn't think it was right to throw the ball. I would have liked to get them to run routes and throw them some balls, but I just didn't think that was the right thing to do as a coach. We can develop them the next week."

The urgency to do that surely increased dramatically when the break in Jones' left hand was confirmed on Sunday. On Monday, Rogers said Jones had surgery to repair the break. He will be out for games against Oregon and No. 4 Florida over the next two weeks.

There might never have been a good time to lose a veteran presence who opened the season in great shape by all accounts. He reinforced that perception by making six catches for 86 yards before leaving in the third quarter against UT Martin to get his hand checked. But based on the difficulty of the schedule and how little time the Vols have had to ease the freshmen into action, it would have been tough for the timing to have been much worse.

"Really, the way I look at it is it's really devastating for Gerald himself," Simms said. "He's worked so hard this offseason and going into your senior year, you don't want to miss some of the biggest games of the year. Especially the one coming up and the one (after that), and I really do feel terrible for him. I really do, because I've gotten to know him the past few months.

"Now it's time for these young freshmen to step up and make some plays for us, and they're going to have to."

The Vols don't have any time to wait.

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Comments » 83

Bogus writes:

If Zach Rogers starts, hopefully Naffy will have a stroke and we won't hear from him anymore.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Bogus:

If Zach Rogers starts, hopefully Naffy will have a stroke and we won't hear from him anymore.

I named Naffy. I made him. I can take him out.

The7Maxims writes:

Baptism by fire against Oregon; it was gonna happen sooner or later. Better now then against an SEC opponent. We've got two high octane wide receivers ready for the big league. I know they'll do well.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to The7Maxims:

Baptism by fire against Oregon; it was gonna happen sooner or later. Better now then against an SEC opponent. We've got two high octane wide receivers ready for the big league. I know they'll do well.

It will be hard to Dunk the Ducks. They are the best team in the Pac10. So Calif has the most talent but I think they are third in desire. I loved Sat's game Wilcox's Defence looked solid but they will have their hands full with Or's OL If the Vols can stop the run then I think we have a good chance of upsetting Or.
Go Vols

GoVols_16 writes:

I know nothing about Oregon, except they have a good offense. How are they on defense?

ThaiVolFan writes:

We all know that their offense is talented. They will score in Neyland. The question for me is how our O-line stacks up against their D-line. If we can run block and pass protect well enough I like our chances of pulling out a tough win at home. Wilcox is definitely going to help tip the scales in our favor. So I think the key to victory is not our frosh receivers playing well under pressure, but our young line playing well against a stiffer opponent. Lets win it in the trenches SEC style boys.
GO BIG ORANGE!

TheBanker writes:

Don't discount what our TE's will be able to accomplish. Poole and Oku hitting with SEC speed and power all day will play a factor. I am not diminishing Oregon in any way. I am just pointing out that the Vols have more weapons than opponents have seen thus far.

oskie_score writes:

How can one not be impressed w/ Denarious Moore? A virtual after-thought many wrote off as a pkg deal to sign Lennon Creer. He has since exceeded expectation while becoming Tennessee's "go-to" / 1st option receiver.

Z. Rogers has blazin' speed but needs to work on better separation from the defender, consistency in catching the ball and YAC.

I was impressed by Hunter and D. Rogers play vs UTM, esp so in their ability to block down field. As to their speed and raw talent...indisputable.

Looking forward to see Milton display his ability. Like his height...flashes of ECU's 6'8" WR Justin Jones making that leaping catch in the EZ vs Tulsa (yesterday) as time ran out...it's a beautiful thing.

vol94 writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It doesn't matter who starts as Da'Rick and/ or Justin will get the same # of Reps as Zach. Hopefully Zach won't have hands of stone like his brother.

I like the enthusiasm of the UT fan base and I too have hope for a victory. However, after I take off the orange colored glasses something tells me we will not be able to move the ball against Oregon's Defense which is stout this year. Their corners play bump coverage and their pass rush will be too much for our o-line. Hope I am wrong and I will be there screaming with the other 100k fans. Still cannot believe the game is NOT sold out!!

BeRealistic writes:

Simms says, (They better be ready). What about himself, He has a bad habit of only looking at the receiver he's throwing to, easy to read. I hope we can run good & keep it close. GO VOLS

UTGAMER writes:

TEAGUE should be put back on off.

ncvol17 writes:

Happy Labor Day. We have quite an uphill battle on Saturday. Now another mini landslide - young WR's w/ no big game college experience..Dig in..these guys will sure look by the last 4 games of the year after gaining experience.

alwaysVol writes:

in response to UTGAMER:

TEAGUE should be put back on off.

unfortunalty you can't, he is a starter at one of the corner positions. Wonder if he could play both for a few games?

crimsonviper writes:

in response to TommyJack:

I named Naffy. I made him. I can take him out.

Oh no TJ my man!...I didn't know nappy was your boy..I told him one time his daddy had the sperm rot...I'm sorry my friend.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Fortune telling again....Many wanted the freshman Bray to start and well he showed he's a freshman. Freshmen receivers need time to learn routes. I guess Matt can just tell them go long or go short and hope for the best.

duncanvol writes:

in response to UTGAMER:

TEAGUE should be put back on off.

I agree. Let him play both ways. He can play in nickel on defence and he would be a good candidate for wildcat

nicknack1 writes:

I do know this, Da'Rick is definitely physically ready. He is pretty built for a WR and probably bigger than most SEC receivers. He's fast and has alot of potential. I wanna see more of Justin Hunter and hopefull Matt Milton. Milton was pretty good in the spring game and during camp and plus, being a 6'6'' fast receiver doesn't hurt either against Oregon's small cornerbacks.

Alwaysavol writes:

in response to oskie_score:

How can one not be impressed w/ Denarious Moore? A virtual after-thought many wrote off as a pkg deal to sign Lennon Creer. He has since exceeded expectation while becoming Tennessee's "go-to" / 1st option receiver.

Z. Rogers has blazin' speed but needs to work on better separation from the defender, consistency in catching the ball and YAC.

I was impressed by Hunter and D. Rogers play vs UTM, esp so in their ability to block down field. As to their speed and raw talent...indisputable.

Looking forward to see Milton display his ability. Like his height...flashes of ECU's 6'8" WR Justin Jones making that leaping catch in the EZ vs Tulsa (yesterday) as time ran out...it's a beautiful thing.

Speaking of Milton, why didn't the article mention him? And did he play at all against UTM? Is he really that far behind Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers at this point?

jimr07 writes:

in response to Bogus:

If Zach Rogers starts, hopefully Naffy will have a stroke and we won't hear from him anymore.

You forgot to mention that the coaches do not know what they are doing according to naffy. he is just mad that he lost the moron of the year competition.

Smokey_Told_Me writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

First of all, I respect all opinions (exception troll hate mail) posted on this site, including yours. However Naffy, sometimes I think that you have pork-n-beans for brains.

Granted, who starts is important - we all want the best players on the field. However, I believe that we are starting to see something special with our new coaching staff - the ability to make a "proactive" game plan (instead of "reactive") and make good, timely adjustments as needed. A good game plan starts with good scouting of the opponent and putting the right personnel on the field to carry it out. If Zach fits the game plan best, so be it. If it doesn't pan out, modify it. CDD and his staff appear to be very rich with a "brain trust" and I believe that we are going to see our opponents caught off guard by the timely adjustments to the Vol's game plans offensively and defensively. Go Big Orange.

...Smokey knows where the bones are buried.

jimr07 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Amen and i doubt that we would see him for a while. come to think of, i hope it comes true.

jimr07 writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

so far, i have not found one that does agree with you.. the only we agree on is that you a moron.

huntined#565710 writes:

We all have said we are W.R.U. this is not our weak link!! Our top recruits were WR so we should be fine, maybe a chance for one of them to really shine!!

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to BeRealistic:

Simms says, (They better be ready). What about himself, He has a bad habit of only looking at the receiver he's throwing to, easy to read. I hope we can run good & keep it close. GO VOLS

I thought the samething after I read his comments.Simms better be better prepared because he actually looked pathetic.
This is not a bash on Crompton but Simms does have the cromptonitis.Looking at 1 WR from the snap top the throw.But I have hope that Tn beats those quacky ducks.GBO

hueypilot writes:

Not seen any report of it but my take on the best thing the WR's did was block downfield. For the most part they made the catches they should make, nothing spectacular, just workmanlike but they took three running plays that could have been ten yard gains and turned them into touchdowns. I hope the young 'uns can block as well, but wouldn't think so.

Bogus writes:

in response to hueypilot:

Not seen any report of it but my take on the best thing the WR's did was block downfield. For the most part they made the catches they should make, nothing spectacular, just workmanlike but they took three running plays that could have been ten yard gains and turned them into touchdowns. I hope the young 'uns can block as well, but wouldn't think so.

Justin Hunter manhandled a corner on what I believe was Poole's second TD run. The frosh did just fine run blocking.

tnsportsman writes:

The Big Orange will be OK with Austin, Hunter and Rogers! Moore will play as will Shaw. GJ will be back in 2 games. All is good with UT, we are making progress! IMO, at least 8 wins, BOOK IT!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

Bogus writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

The Big Orange will be OK with Austin, Hunter and Rogers! Moore will play as will Shaw. GJ will be back in 2 games. All is good with UT, we are making progress! IMO, at least 8 wins, BOOK IT!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

It's Zack, not Austin. And unfortunately for Naffy, Dooley confirmed a while ago Zack Rogers is getting the start opposite D-Mo. Hey Naffy, you can commence your imitation of Tebow at the end of the SEC championship.

Bogus writes:

Oops, Zach, not Zack.

oskie_score writes:

in response to Alwaysavol:

Speaking of Milton, why didn't the article mention him? And did he play at all against UTM? Is he really that far behind Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers at this point?

Not sure why, but Milton did not play against UTM.
With GJ out (at this pt) for a minimum of 2 wks and Denarious ankle (seriousness unknown) in question I suspect that he will get some reps against UO.

Vols20 writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I will remember it! I will remember it as the most ignorant post I have ever read. Receivers rotate according to matchups so the combinations will vary as adjustments are made during the flow of the game. It cracks me up how so many folks fall in love with freshmen. Zach Rogers is probably a better route runner and a smarter football player than Rogers or Hunter. The are GREAT talents, but guys like Z. Rogers are the nuts and bolts of any team.

BufordTJustice writes:

I just hope it doesn't come down to a field-goal.

VolBlitz writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Why would you predict this? Chaney will not call plays that puts winning on Chris's shoulders. He will only call high percentage throws and it will be a smash mouth conservative game plan.
Wilcox and our D will do enough to keep Oregon frustrated on offense. All the pressure is on Oregon, we'll just lay our ears back on D come at 'em.
Our GP will look very similar to the Fla. game last year and with a few breaks maybe this one will go our way.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to Bogus:

It's Zack, not Austin. And unfortunately for Naffy, Dooley confirmed a while ago Zack Rogers is getting the start opposite D-Mo. Hey Naffy, you can commence your imitation of Tebow at the end of the SEC championship.

LOL you are so right, wishful thinking here!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to Vols20:

I will remember it! I will remember it as the most ignorant post I have ever read. Receivers rotate according to matchups so the combinations will vary as adjustments are made during the flow of the game. It cracks me up how so many folks fall in love with freshmen. Zach Rogers is probably a better route runner and a smarter football player than Rogers or Hunter. The are GREAT talents, but guys like Z. Rogers are the nuts and bolts of any team.

100% correct; Zach's knowledge of the offense is the reason he's the #3 WR..He might not have Hunters natural talent but as a possession reciever he's good.. Chaney will most certainly adjust his game plan and play calling..Simms getting reps this week with this line up also helps.Luke not letting the ball sail between his hands couldn't hurt either..Against Oregon some 25 to 35 yard receptions are a must;They are to good and fast to think a short passing game will work..There are too many variables to list them all but I hope Moore can play because he has a knack of pulling in those longer receptions we will need to win

mdvol writes:

The SEC has been trotting out freshman star receivers for several years now. AJ Green or Julio Jones ring a bell? Alshon Jeffery? Time for UT to trot out our young stars. Someone WILL step up.

We are going to surprise some damn people.
We will upset either Florida or Alabama.

Psychovol writes:

Simms and Stocker better get on the same page. Ball control is going to rule the day. The Vols will need to make the most of their opportunities.

BillyVol writes:

I noticed Simms also not looking at all the field. He had Justin open a few times. I believe he was intentionally not thrown to, same as Rogers. This week will see them in the plan.

rockytopatl writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I noticed it as soon as they bricked it in on the north side a year or so ago. Now the south end zone and bricked as well. It is WAY too close, and somebody's going to be hurt bad eventually.

abnermc writes:

Tight end play will be important. We need to be very physical. Make the Ducks tentative.

OrangePsyched writes:

I believe that we'll go with two tight ends a lot this week. Turnovers and field position will go a long way to determining the outcome. Time to unleash those blitz packages and hope our corners can go man. ROCKY TOP!

LiveFaith writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

I noticed it as soon as they bricked it in on the north side a year or so ago. Now the south end zone and bricked as well. It is WAY too close, and somebody's going to be hurt bad eventually.

Maybe they should go ahead and install some of those NASCAR type padded walls.

jimbo37918 writes:

I hope the young recievers step up but this game is in the hands of the defence.This game will show just how good Wilcox is as D C.But win or lose Oregon has the worst looking uniforms in football.GBO

FWBVol writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

I noticed it as soon as they bricked it in on the north side a year or so ago. Now the south end zone and bricked as well. It is WAY too close, and somebody's going to be hurt bad eventually.

There never has been a lot of room between the back of the end zones and the walls. I just think it wasn't as noticable when it was a chainlink fence in the back of the end zone rather than a brick wall. I was watching the Va. Tech-Boise State game tonight that was played in the stadium in the D.C. area where the Redskins play their home games and it didn't seem to have any more room than Neyland does in the back of the end zones.

A lot stadiums, unless surrounded by a track, have walls that butt up pretty close to the end zones.

Laydbakvol writes:

I did not see the game Saturday. Did we run many blitz packages? Or are we holding them back for these next games. Seemed like we were working on quite a few different blitz schemes off season.

BigBadVol writes:

I get embarrassed reading some these posts. I really thought Vol fans were brighter than most. Maybe I'm wrong. And yes I realize some of these posters are not Vol fans but trolls.

bawgyman writes:

in response to UTGAMER:

TEAGUE should be put back on off.

Absolutely. Call Derek.

RaineyVol writes:

Its good to see Simms leadership... now lets see if he can back that leadership up on the field!!!

Flashman writes:

To the guy with the orange colored glasses, we ain't winning 8 games this year, sorry!

gnm53108 writes:

in response to Flashman:

To the guy with the orange colored glasses, we ain't winning 8 games this year, sorry!

Yeh,I think we can do better too.

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