Tennessee's defensive players gathered in the film room before Saturday's scrimmage to watch a highlight reel of all the unit's big plays of previous years.
When they walked off the field at Neyland Stadium, they left with the assurance that they at least weren't on the wrong end of any plays that would motivate the offense in the future.
Outside of a deep catch by freshman DeAnthony Arnett that was called back for offensive pass interference, the Vols' secondary largely prevented Tyler Bray and the rest of UT's passing game from finding much success with the deep ball Saturday. Freshman Tom Smith had the game's longest run, a 22-yarder, but he didn't find the end zone.
It was a performance that fell short of matching Tuesday's lock-down effort, but was one that coach Derek Dooley said would allow him to enter the film room today with an optimistic vibe.
"The offense made a few plays and we missed a few fits here and there," junior Prentiss Waggner said. "When it comes down to it, coaches always talk about bend but don't break when we get in the end zone and just force field goals. I think we did that today."
The defense surrendered just two touchdowns — a 4-yard catch by Da'Rick Rogers and an 18-yard grab by Matt Milton — while allowing five field goals. The unit, though, was on the field for long periods of time, allowing drives of nine plays, two of eight plays and one of seven plays.
Naz Oliver, Art Evans and Nigel Mitchell-Thornton helped give the defense three interceptions after a Tuesday performance in which freshman Justin Coleman was the only player to pick off a pass.
Dooley said he doesn't feel like UT's secondary, while loaded with young bodies, is "close to being where we need to be from a performance standpoint."
"We don't have those gaping, wide-open plays like we've seen in the past," Dooley said. "There's that a little bit, but all our opponents are going to be in position. You've got to hit them, you've got to figure out where the leverage is and where to place the ball, and sometimes it was a little communication between the receiver and the quarterback.
"It just takes time."
Dooley said players such as Waggner and junior-college transfer Byron Moore, who have been rotating at both safety and cornerback, will continue to do so because of the variety of defensive packages UT plans to roll out this season.
"You need a lot of guys that can do some multiple things," Dooley said. "We've got to prove everything in the secondary. We don't tackle very well. We've gotten beaten on some big plays."
Precautionary Measures: Neither Tauren Poole (ankle) nor Rajion Neal (knee) came into Saturday's scrimmage seriously injured, but both running backs were held out of action.
"I don't think any of them are anything to panic over," Dooley said.
Freshmen Marlin Lane and Smith filled the void, combining for 122 yards on 19 carries.
"I think they're going to complement each other very well," Dooley said. "Let me tell you what they both have: They're tough, and that's a starting point at running back."
Linebacker Daryl Vereen (pectoral muscle), defensive tackle Malik Jackson (knee), wide receiver Antonio Jones (unknown) and offensive lineman Antonio Richardson (shoulder) were also held out of the scrimmage.
Steadied In: For now, it appears Notre Dame transfer Alex Bullard is winning the battle at left guard with James Stone locked in at center.
"We might have steadied in there," Dooley said. "I hope we have because I don't want to start moving more."
Dooley said there were moments when Stone was "screaming" at Bullard, but his mistakes were considered understandable because he's played every position on the line since transferring in the spring.
"I feel like I did a decent job," Bullard said. "I just need to keep working at it."
Game-winner: Freshman linebacker Curt Maggitt came up big on the scrimmage's final play, Dooley said, as he peeled around the end and picked up his second sack of the day.
Maggitt finished with six tackles, 4.5 of which went for a loss. Fellow freshman linebacker A.J. Johnson added five tackles.
Both linebackers appear to be in line for serious playing time.
"They're freshmen, so I'm sure they made a lot of mistakes," Dooley said. "I notice them out there. I just kind of look and I see 56 and I see 45."