Vols' defense starting to show development

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee defensive back Janzen Jackson gives teammates a pep-talk prior to a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee defensive back Janzen Jackson gives teammates a pep-talk prior to a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

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."

Get Copyright Permissions © 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 39

VOLPhan writes:

I feel like freshman are still the key to our success... I would like to see them get as much playing time this year as they did last year. What a force we will be!!! GBO!!

rockytopwestone writes:

Who knows people, with a little luck and not to many key people getting hurt, we may surprize some teams yet.

hamneggs writes:

I don't know to be more concerned about our offense or defense when freshmen are the standouts. This shows how thin we still are and how long it will take to compete with the elite of the SEC.

Volstate writes:

Be cautiously optimistic. Dooley is going to get just a bit more positive each scrimmage so he doesn't deject his team. You won't truly know what kind of team you have until they hit the field against Montana. Even then, you'll only have an idea. That 3rd week will be the true test as to how good we are.

dvhill100 writes:

We aren't there yet, and I don't think we'll improve much on last year's record, but I see progress, more depth and better play. That is what I expected to see and if we stay the course, we'll be successful with CDD at the helm. We should have a one-two game improvement this year. Next year we should be competing for the SEC Championship. Who knows, maybe we'll win it for a change.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

Excited that football season is upon us; however, I refuse to get excited over what is reported in an intra-squad scrimmage. Way too soon tell. Odds are, we won't know how good or bad we are until we play Florda--and that may not even mean much if UF is down this year.

In the past, I've put too much stock in what I read early on. Some years, we "look great" and have a horrendous season. Other years, we "have work to do" and end up being strong.

shorttail writes:

a mediocre offense can win games if it has a dang good defense. how do you stop the great peyton manning, PRESSURE ---- GO VOLS ---

hcjournals#206623 writes:

It's so funny to hear people trying to report on scrimmages they didn't see. Must be harder to write...

jjsteel writes:

in response to Volstate:

Be cautiously optimistic. Dooley is going to get just a bit more positive each scrimmage so he doesn't deject his team. You won't truly know what kind of team you have until they hit the field against Montana. Even then, you'll only have an idea. That 3rd week will be the true test as to how good we are.

We.....Ha. Try they.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Gonna have a couple of really good pass rushers this yr in Maggit and J. Smith. Been a while since we've had that. I think this D is gonna be better than what we (me included) had originally thought. I'm loving it.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

in response to rockytopwestone:

Who knows people, with a little luck and not to many key people getting hurt, we may surprize some teams yet.

I'll take luck, but I prefer to outperform opponents with talent and execution! So keep signing them up and coaching them up! I agree, though, we will beat some teams that we're not supposed to! This year, the Big Orange earns some respect!

LJS1984 writes:

Everybody has been was worried about the linebackers all offseason. MY THOUGHTS and posts the whole time have noted that Tennessee has never had a problem at the linebacker position in it's history. We always have been able to plug in players at that position. Why would we start struggling at LB now?

tree_em_smokey writes:

The freshmen LB's are good news! You can tell we are much better than last year, CDD isn't speaking ALL bad about the team, he is giving praise and compliments here and there! HAHA. GBO!!!

tree_em_smokey writes:

Here's what Scout thinks about Prentiss Waggner!

http://cfn.scout.com/2/1094790.html

Plus he broke UT records last season when he returned three interceptions for TD's which was 1st in the NCAA last year. Waggner was named to the AP All-SEC second team and earned Scout second team All America honors. Waggner was also named to the 2011 Lott Impact trophy award watch list. GBO!!!

CroKev writes:

in response to GhostOFLaneKiffinFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As always, your "anomalous penmanship" is implacable.

iowavol writes:

Exciting to see the freshman getting so many reps. Will help in the long run. Hard to make much out of the stats - freshman LBs making sacks and TFL, but freshman RBs averaging 8 ypc is somewhat contradictory. Regardless, it indicates speed and instinct which is always a good thing.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree with you..I actually like being overlooked because it makes excellent locker room material, Naval.

Smokey says this defense will make some big plays this year..

drwut70 writes:

OK-OK-OK We get it W-D's Daddy, volzsfan,CSS,Ghostofkiffinfan,Tigerdave, bodeanvol, et-al. Tennessee stinks, CDD is a mid major coach at best, TN will NEVER be able to compete in the SEC, TN will be lucky to win 3 games this year, they are cheaters, thugs and lairs and should just go to the MAC. Now that we have that straight, will you please go away and allow the Tennessee Vols fans on here to express and discuss our opinions of our team? Despite how stupid, unfortunate and pitiful we are when it comes to the game of football.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to drwut70:

OK-OK-OK We get it W-D's Daddy, volzsfan,CSS,Ghostofkiffinfan,Tigerdave, bodeanvol, et-al. Tennessee stinks, CDD is a mid major coach at best, TN will NEVER be able to compete in the SEC, TN will be lucky to win 3 games this year, they are cheaters, thugs and lairs and should just go to the MAC. Now that we have that straight, will you please go away and allow the Tennessee Vols fans on here to express and discuss our opinions of our team? Despite how stupid, unfortunate and pitiful we are when it comes to the game of football.

Yeah..and don't forgot we are in the top 10 in all-time wins in college football, but ACCORDING TO THEM, that doesn't count and we still suck...and our NC in '98 doesn't count because it was a long time ago and people have forgotten it.

Smokey says the trolls will eat their words in the near future..

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Look who is NOT in the top ten:

http://collegefootball.about.com/od/s...

Smokey says 'Nuff said..

VolinCalif writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

CSS sometimes you are beyond belief. Freshmen start for UT for the same reason they start anywhere. Talent on hand.The Vols are lacking in talent at this point, Fl LSU and Al are loaded. so get your head out of it and keep you comments to something that makes some FB sense.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to InDestruCtible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

which one of these studs do you credit your 4-4 sec record too?

high school ratings don't mean anything at this point. bray's COLLEGE stats are better than all of them.

what's next? little league stats?

FEARinSEC writes:

in response to ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog:

Look who is NOT in the top ten:

http://collegefootball.about.com/od/s...

Smokey says 'Nuff said..

That's because prior to the 1990's and Steve Spurrier, no one even knew FU had a football team.

tnfanincali writes:

in response to InDestruCtible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So then why was he recruited to FL in the first place if he didn't fit the system? And if those other 5 star QBs are so good, why weren't they playing last year? Or I should say, why weren't they starting after it became obvious that Brantley wasn't the right QB for the offense they were running?

Colliervol writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What bothers me most is the fact that a Vandy fan would dare comment on football. Because there is no way you've see enough good football in your lifetime to comment on it.

Colliervol writes:

Although just freshmen with a lot to learn, it sounds like we might just have a couple of keepers in Maggitt and Johnson. That would be big for an undermanned defense if those two can fill the void at LB.

VOLliven2it writes:

I say stop all the chatter, let's line em up all the stars, non-stars etc. and have a football game. When that is over then let's see who comes out on top. It's a season filled with lots of surprises but it is NOT ALL OF LIFE! If you have nothing to do but go on football sites all the time, your life is below patheticism. So why not reel in all the vitriol among rivaling SEC teams and wait to see how it turns out? A few injuries on any team might be the difference between contending in the conference or waiting for a Nashville, Birmingham, or Memphis bowl bid. Time will tell, the season is almost here.

Huttdawg100 writes:

This year, Wilcox will have to prove himself. He's had more than a year to install his defense. I want to see him out-scheme Charlie Weis and Steve Spurrier. Last year, I think he got a raise that was unwarranted. It's time for him to earn a pay check.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to InDestruCtible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I normally don't respond to trolls, but it's NOT "Jerry", it's "JUSTIN"..I don't know if that was a typo or you are just being a jerk, but at least get his name right..I always make sure I get the coaches name right no matter what I say,whether I'm criticizing or whatever the case may be..

Smokey says at least get the coaches names right if you criticize or mock..

FEARinSEC writes:

in response to Unfrozen_Caveman_Volfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Oh, I forgot about the years with Emitt!! Flarduh was so great during the years with him, they compiled an AMAZING 20-16 record!!! WOW!!!!

FEARinSEC writes:

in response to Unfrozen_Caveman_Volfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You must not have been around here long if you think I'm a troll or a Gator fan.... I was thinking the same about you?

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to Unfrozen_Caveman_Volfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm not defending these guys but be careful,Caveman..Let's not get carried away..

Smokey says let's see if this Gator coaching staff is as good as "some" people seem to think they are gonna be..

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to Unfrozen_Caveman_Volfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good Lord, no need to bite my head off!!! I have every right to speak my opinion just like you do!! But there's no need to be rude and "lump" me with that troll.

movol77 writes:

If someone consistently writes on an opposing team's football news site, it is more than trolling. It's psychotic (literally).

It's time for KNS to do more than moderate and remove an occasional pyscho post from GVX. It's time to moderate and remove the anti-Vol psychos'.

KNS, don't encourage the Vol community to move from the neighborhood, which is what will eventually happen if better management of the GVX board doesn't ensue soon.

OrangePsyched writes:

I don't think that anyone can control the trolls. They just change names and come back. Even as we start winning and beating their teams they will change there names. Even as we win CSS,DC and Volzfan will come on and talk about how bad we were 2 yrs. ago. That's ok though cause we Vol fans will be singing Rocky Top all night long. Sorry to quote surfer dude on that. GBO!

movol77 writes:

in response to OrangePsyched:

I don't think that anyone can control the trolls. They just change names and come back. Even as we start winning and beating their teams they will change there names. Even as we win CSS,DC and Volzfan will come on and talk about how bad we were 2 yrs. ago. That's ok though cause we Vol fans will be singing Rocky Top all night long. Sorry to quote surfer dude on that. GBO!

;-)

(Make them change their names now! They don't deserve a lasting GVX ID.)

keviningeorgia writes:

in response to InDestruCtible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Blah blahhh bablahh blah blahhh, Florida. Blahh blah bablahhh Florida blahh blah

DannyVol writes:

in response to Volstate:

Be cautiously optimistic. Dooley is going to get just a bit more positive each scrimmage so he doesn't deject his team. You won't truly know what kind of team you have until they hit the field against Montana. Even then, you'll only have an idea. That 3rd week will be the true test as to how good we are.

Your so wise. And inspiring. Your words makes me want to run through a brick wall.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features