Depth chart reflects UT's youth

Vols football practice - Aug. 29, 2011

Ben Martin on starting and getting the D-line ready for Montana

Da'Rick Rogers "ready" to face Montana

Austin Johnson not taking Montana lightly

Tauren Poole: Vols are young, but mature

Derek Dooley: Game week preparation for Montana

Derek Dooley talks after practice - Aug. 29, 2011

What does safety look like in the post-Janzen era?

Malik Jackson had a different take than most when he scanned Tennessee's first game-week depth chart of the 2011 season.

The senior defensive tackle didn't see that 14 of the 23 spots reserved for offensive and defensive players were occupied by underclassmen. He didn't notice that nine of the players listed had never started a college game. And he certainly didn't have the time to crunch the numbers to discover that two-thirds of the entire two-deep depth chart was composed of freshmen and sophomores.

Age and rank, for one of the few experienced veterans on UT's entire roster, were nothing more than numbers and titles.

"You see that if they're there, then that means they have to have a lot of talent, and you know they know what they're doing," Jackson said after Monday's practice. "When I look at the depth chart, I don't see (sophomore defensive tackle) Corey Miller's name, I don't see age. I don't see Jacques (Smith) as a sophomore. I just see him (as) the best guy at that position.

"They beat them out, so we've just got to go out there and play with them."

In most cases, those underclassmen were beating out other underclassmen for their positions, but at this point in the preseason, that's beside the point. Ever since coach Derek Dooley dubbed 2011 as "Year One" of his quest to rebuild and rejuvenate the program, the Vols have been well aware of their overabundance of youth and lack of experience.

An official depth chart did nothing but reinforce the challenge.

"We can't make any excuses," senior running back Tauren Poole said. "We have a young football team with a small senior class. We're going to make it what it is. We're going to make it worth it and play as hard as we can."

The Vols' starting defense is a mixed bag, with three seniors and a combined five upperclassmen occupying nearly half of the 11 spots. Half of the remaining six, though, are filled with true freshmen, as Curt Maggitt will start at strongside linebacker, A.J. Johnson will start at weakside linebacker and Justin Coleman will line up at left cornerback.

Tack on defensive tackle Daniel Hood, who was formerly an offensive tackle, and four of UT's 11 starting defenders will be making their college debut at their respective positions as starters Saturday (TV: PPV, 6 p.m.) against Montana.

Though there are no true freshmen to be found, eight of the 12 starting spots on offense — UT accounted for both a slot wide receiver and a fullback — will be occupied by sophomores. Because UT didn't just become young overnight, many of those sophomores come into 2011 with plenty of experience, as six of the eight saw the field in at least 12 games last season and combine for 38 starts.

Fifteen of Dooley's 28-man, 2011 signing class have spots on the two-deep depth chart.

Dooley bristled at the notion of having a pre-planned strategy for implementing the newcomers throughout Saturday's game.

"Our objective's to win the game, so I'm not going to go out there like it's a preseason game and evaluate guys," Dooley said. "We're going to go out there to try to win the football game. If that means playing a lot of guys, we'll do it. And if it doesn't, then we won't."

Back In Action: The long weekend did some good for a number of injured Vols.

Running back Tom Smith (knee) and wide receiver Zach Rogers (triceps) swapped the red, non-contact jerseys they had been wearing for the past week for normal ones Monday, indicating that both players are close to full strength. Rogers' absence did not hurt his standing among UT's wide receivers, as he was listed as a starter in the slot.

After sitting out most of last week, wide receiver Matt Milton and Rajion Neal (knee) were back with the team and wore red, non-contact jerseys.

Neal's role with the offense remains in flux, as UT had been experimented with him in a hybrid running back-wide receiver position.

"It's going to be limited because we haven't been able to work him much," Dooley said. "We'll just kind of take it day-to-day, and his role may expand this week, depending on how his knee is."

Final Thought: Dooley used another one of his trademark analogies to motivate his players heading into their first game week of the season.

"A lot of new guys. Got to teach them what it means to prepare," Dooley said. "I equated it to every day you're depositing money in your bank account — every day. The investment that you put in physically, the investment you put in mentally is a deposit.

"On game day, you withdraw it all. So, the more you deposit during the week, the more money you're going to have on game day to play well.

"Today we put a pretty good deposit in and we'll see if we can keep it going all week."

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Comments » 30

ThaiVolFan writes:

Our youthfulness at many positions will become the greatest strength of this team, i.e. the offensive line. Yes, next year we will be very tough to beat, but I actually think the solid play of the offensive line this year is going to pave the way for a 9 win season this year which will include a couple of big upsets. Dooley will have a successful year in 2011. Oh and Rajion Neal will be back @ full strength as a hybrid receiver/running back for the first upset of the year in the Swamp. Mark it down. Go Vols!

volgrog#210164 writes:

Gotta love Dooley's analogies-great teaching tools. Seems like he comes up with a new one every week.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

Thai, I hope you are correct! I can't quite put my neck out that far, but I, too, think there are going to be some surprises! I think the OL will be a strength, but I'm worried that the DL won't be able to hold up against SOLID SEC teams! It all starts up front! I like the banking analogy by CDD! Make those deposits and spend it ALL on Saturday! GBO!

Couchdummy writes:

Just wondering why you (KNS) can not show the UT depth chart?

BigVolFaninSC writes:

in response to Couchdummy:

Just wondering why you (KNS) can not show the UT depth chart?

I was wondering the same thing! It's probably on the pay $ site!

OrangePsyched writes:

I'll take young and talented any day over experienced and bad. You get the taste knocked out of your mouth you don't care if it's a senior or a freshman..it just hurts man.

TSNSD4UT writes:

Banking on it!

MtJ_Orange writes:

I cannot wait until Saturday Night. I want to see what the young linebackers have to offer. I won't be at the game but I hope the Vol Nation treats any visitors with respect. Unlike those thugs down in Gainsville. GBO!

ClearVol writes:

Okay,I could not help myself, what do you get when you cross a bulldog with an 87 iroc z camaro? No offense camaro lovers.

www.saturdaydownsouth.com/2011/georgia-nike-pro-combat-uniforms/

Kelly8 writes:

in response to Couchdummy:

Just wondering why you (KNS) can not show the UT depth chart?

Yeah they can show it. On the GVX247 pay site. I guess my newspaper subscription, plus my traffic to this site driving ad sales, isn't enough to warrant a look at the depth chart. Thanks, KNS.

MtJ_Orange writes:

in response to MtJ_Orange:

I cannot wait until Saturday Night. I want to see what the young linebackers have to offer. I won't be at the game but I hope the Vol Nation treats any visitors with respect. Unlike those thugs down in Gainsville. GBO!

Excuse me, left out the e (Gainesville).

CaliVOL2 writes:

For the depth chart look at utsports.com

DannyVol writes:

in response to FrenchQuarterVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hahahaha!!!!!

Fryinpansvols writes:

in response to TheBlue:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You know a lot of Non-UT fans are saying that Cincinnati will beat the Vols? I am being a realist with my prediction that Tennessee will go 8-4 and not lose to a Cincinnati team that went 5-7 last year. Also the Bearcats have to come to Knoxville in front of 100+ thousand fans. I just don't see it happening! I know UT is real young but as the article indicated they do have some experience and are very athletic. And by the way, Brian Kelly isn't the coach in Cincy anymore. GBO!

Fryinpansvols writes:

Excuse my last post. I need to correct myself. I gave The Cincinnati Bearcats too many wins. They actually went 4-8 last season. See for yourself below:

9/4/2010 @ Fresno State L 14-28
9/11/2010 Indiana State W 40-7
9/16/2010 @ North Carolina State L 19-30
9/25/2010 Oklahoma L 29-31
10/9/2010 Miami (OH) W 45-3
10/15/2010 @ Louisville W 35-27
10/30/2010 Syracuse L 7-31
11/13/2010 @ West Virginia L 10-37
11/20/2010 Rutgers W 69-38
11/27/2010 @ Connecticut L 17-38
12/4/2010 Pittsburgh L 10-28

cgbtn writes:

The improving talent level is much more important than age. One of the greatest teams in Vol history was known as "The Flaming Sophomores." Maybe this is the beta version.

MusicCityVol writes:

Kudos to the poster who pointed out the youth on the OL as one of our teams strengths. Experienced youth is a dangerous combination for opponents in college football. I know everyone keeps saying it but in 2012 that experience will be all over the field. I hope our young LB's show out vs Montana.

This is Why I Love Tennessee Football: Family
http://www.checkerboardchatter.com/20...

TKG_VOL writes:

What year (years) did Derick Dooley coach at Georgia? There was a classic football game replay on last night from 1996. Auburn and Georgia. 4 overtimes. Georgia won 56 - 49. I could of sworn I saw Coach DD on the sidelines. Anyone know?

BamaVol writes:

in response to MtJ_Orange:

Excuse me, left out the e (Gainesville).

Leave off the G next time.

Fryinpansvols writes:

in response to TKG_VOL:

What year (years) did Derick Dooley coach at Georgia? There was a classic football game replay on last night from 1996. Auburn and Georgia. 4 overtimes. Georgia won 56 - 49. I could of sworn I saw Coach DD on the sidelines. Anyone know?

CDD was a GA @ UGA in 1996 per Wikipedia.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say not worry soon as someone writes about "inferiority complexes" you will be exhibit A on everyones list.
Bones never lie.

The_Real_Orange writes:

I don't want to read any excuses about youth when UT loses in the swamp this year. UF is a younger team all around and will have a staff working together for the first time this season. Its gonna make number 7 in a row just that much more fun! Go Gators!!!

The_Real_Orange writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are incorrect when talking about the youth of UF, whether your talking about starters or two deep. Due to several factors, UF also only has around 73 scholarship players this season. I haven't been one of the fans that said I know how the new staff is going to do. I am taking more of a wait and see approach. All fan bases have their irrational fans, you and Gerry are a perfect example. Just saying....

The_Real_Orange writes:

Naval, UF has 8 Seniors and 15 Juniors on their roster. The other 50 players are freshmen and sophomores. Explain how UT is much younger.

The_Real_Orange writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

UF is basically in the same position as far as depending on underclassmen this year. Hopefully it gets back to being a battle like the early 90s again soon, with the winner taking the early lead for a chance to Atlanta. Right now we really wont know anything until we see how both teams fare against the favorites in the league.

kcbigorngX writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

UF is basically in the same position as far as depending on underclassmen this year. Hopefully it gets back to being a battle like the early 90s again soon, with the winner taking the early lead for a chance to Atlanta. Right now we really wont know anything until we see how both teams fare against the favorites in the league.

They're not in the same position when it comes to the most important one on the field.

Our QB has barely a half season in experience, while yours has more than he probably wants to remember.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually, UF is very much as young as UT with the 2 deep. The scary part is that admittedly UF has many more 4 and 5 star players in the 2 deep (I know what y'all are gonna say about the stars!). Their recruits are more highly rated and have more potential. Do we have better coaches? That will be the deciding difference IMO. If I were a betting man, I would guess that UF will be a 6 pt favorite because we play in the swamp.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Trivia for those that may not know Montana. Their record since 2000 is 126-27. Averaging 11.5 wins to 2.5 losses per yr! That's pretty good even for the FCS, considering they have been national champions several times since 2000!

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

I stand corrected. They have PLAYED in the national championship 5 times since 2000. Won it once.

The_Real_Orange writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Because Naval was finally trying to be civil, I didn't slam him about the 3 deep comment. I've never heard a coach or fan complain about their 3rd team players being young. With only 23 upperclassmen I can't see how UF could be considered anything but young,.....well maybe the managers are Seniors!. Just saying...

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