Losing Herman Lathers ‘a real blow' to Vols

North Carolina tight end Ryan Taylor (49) is knocked out of bounds by Tennessee defenders Herman Lathers (34) and Marsalis Teague (10) in the first quarter of the Music City Bowl NCAA college football game on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010, in Nashville. North Carolina head coach Butch Davis, right, looks on.

Photo by Mark Humphrey, Associated Press

North Carolina tight end Ryan Taylor (49) is knocked out of bounds by Tennessee defenders Herman Lathers (34) and Marsalis Teague (10) in the first quarter of the Music City Bowl NCAA college football game on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010, in Nashville. North Carolina head coach Butch Davis, right, looks on.

HOOVER, Ala. — The simple math was no problem.

Subtract a starter, and Derek Dooley obviously knew he was down to only one returning first-teamer in his defensive front seven from a year ago.

Solving the equation for when the Tennessee coach might get the injured one back in the rotation is a bit more tricky, and Dooley still doesn't have an answer on when linebacker Herman Lathers could be on the field again.

"That was a real blow when we lost Herman," Dooley said. "We were returning two out of our front seven, then Herman gets hurt the first day of workouts, now we're returning one out of front seven.

"I don't know when he's going to be back. I can tell you this, it's not going to be anytime soon. We're just going to have to monitor it week to week, but it was a blow to us.

"It's important we get Herman back as soon as we can."

The initial diagnosis on the ankle Lathers broke in June didn't include an exact timetable either, though it was expected to keep him out of action at least through fall camp and the start of the season.

How much longer it will keep UT's top returning tackler on the sideline remains uncertain, which will make things a little more difficult at a position that was low on depth even if the junior entered the season healthy.

Only departed senior Nick Reveiz topped the 75 tackles Lathers posted a year ago, and though Lathers was also missing during spring practice after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason, he was being counted on heavily to help carry the load defensively this season.

Without him, the Vols will likely have to shuffle Austin Johnson back to an outside position opposite Daryl Vereen and count on John Propst to build on his solid early work as a freshman in limited action a year ago — as well as get some positive contributions frowm a handful of newcomers when camp opens in August.

"Defense is a little bit like offense was a year ago," Dooley said. "We're only returning one player in our front seven, and in this league, as you all know, if you don't have a good front seven, a productive front seven, you're going to have a tough time week in and week out.

"We're going to have to figure out who is going to emerge and be our players that are going to make a difference for us."

Couch On The Shelf: Defensive tackle Malik Jackson indicated that five-star junior college transfer Maurice Couch was hampered by an injury.

Jackson did not specify what kind of injury was holding Couch out, but said it wasn't preventing him from lifting weights and conditioning.

On his Twitter account, Couch wrote Wednesday that a "full week off will help this leg of mine heal up for sure."

Position Switch: While highlighting a number of the freshmen who have stood out to him thus far, offensive tackle Dallas Thomas said Curt Maggitt was playing at linebacker.

Maggitt played at outside linebacker in high school, but was listed as a defensive end by UT on National Signing Day.

Maggitt would join fellow freshmen A.J. Johnson and Christian Harris as fresh bodies in a linebacking corps that's been decimated by injuries and lacks experience.

In Contact: Dooley said he's been in constant contact with Joan Cronan since she assumed the role of interim vice chancellor of athletics.

"I thought it was very important to try to define for her three or four things where she could help us before we hired a new athletics director. She has responded beautifully," Dooley said. "I've been very appreciative of Joan's openness with me. I have a lot of confidence in her abilities to lead until we find a new athletics director."

Dooley said he hasn't been involved in the athletic director search because it's "going to be my boss."

"I've appreciated (chancellor Jimmy Cheek's) communication with me at every step, which he has," Dooley said. "I've appreciated his asking questions on what I thought was important. I know that he's going to make a great decision for Tennessee."

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Comments » 38

dvols writes:

hmmmmm love the propaganda!

VOLliven2it writes:

No Lathers=big loss on defense. But it is out of our hands. We will need some really big stepping up and I hope that Wilcox can help it happen. Otherwise, the offense should be good. I am getting excited even with all our challenges.

pingkr62 writes:

Looks like another true freshman starting on defense. G.B.O.

CoverOrange writes:

Lathers shouldn't miss more than the first game. If he does the injury must have been more serious than we are led to believe.

In another article, quotes from Malik seemed to indicate that Mo Couch was not in SEC football shape. Maybe a few games before he really contributes, we'll see.

tennezz writes:

Sounds like Dooley is doing a little B. N. on Cheek!

born2ride writes:

Get back soon Herman. We need you.

Orangeblood13 writes:

sigh

thetrollhunter writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Oh dang you really got us with that zinger!

Do you really have nothing better to do than be on here? Is your daily life so devoid of anything meaningful that you have to spend all day here?

You REALLY need a girlfriend. Seriously.

kletusfleabiscuit writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Big deal. Can your girls stop our run and pass game? SC is bragging up Lattimore,,,Alabama has Richardson. So what. We have Poole. His numbers were pretty darn good last year without an O-line,,,don't ya think he'll run for a few more yards with an O-line. The big question to you trolls,,,,is who's gonna stop the UT run & pass game?? Florida,,,nope. LSU,,,nope. SC,,,stop the outside run but not the inside. 'bama,,,maybe. Back at ya dipsquid.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

posting at 2:13 am. Yeah I know you have to be at work at 5. You're not obsessed with UT

John_10065 writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

A bad sprain can be worse than a broken ankle. It just depends.

punkin writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's almost 2:30 in the morning. Isn't it time for you to restock the beer cooler in the store?

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

in response to VolFanInTheBoro:

posting at 2:13 am. Yeah I know you have to be at work at 5. You're not obsessed with UT

I was just thinking the same thing. Watch, his shift will change to him getting off at 5. What a loser. Hurry back HL! GBO!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bones and muscles take 6-8 weeks to heal. That should have been about mid August for Lathers. Figure another couple of weeks to get back to football shape and speed and he would be available for 3 Sept. If ligaments are involved, would be another deal.

dgcarter43 writes:

UT has three quality freshman linebackers and I expect at least one of them to be able to fill the hole left by Herman Lather's injury. Sure, learning the system will take time but I believe the coaching staff will have them ready.

ClarksvilleVols42 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think we'll struggle against the run if Couch doesn't live up to the hype: if Malik Jackson gets the double team, we need Couch to wreak havoc. The thing to remember is: this is the first time in three years that we've had the same defensive scheme. Expect the defense to be more complexed than last year: more complexed in the secondary and more complexed with the blitz. So, while I'm sure Lattimore, Trent Richardson, and Knile Davis are salivating at the thought of playing against the UT defense, I think Richardson is the only one to worry about; the other two are breaking in new offensive linemen.

This is where we see if Wilcox was worthy of the raise he got when rumors exploded that he was going to Texas. How creative can he be with his blitzes to disrupt the opposing offenses?

VolsFanInNC writes:

in response to thetrollhunter:

Oh dang you really got us with that zinger!

Do you really have nothing better to do than be on here? Is your daily life so devoid of anything meaningful that you have to spend all day here?

You REALLY need a girlfriend. Seriously.

He does. Rosy Palm and her five friends.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

You know we are getting better when the idiots start invading the site...Our offense will be the surprise in the country early in the season....A few more burgers and Haagen Daaz for Tyler and let the track meet begin. I love that people can't decide who is better between Justin and Da'Rick. We don't have too. We can only score one touchdown at a time. With their size and speed and jumping ability, we should be Gaulting some secondaries. And we have 3-4 more in the wings. And with our backfield all we will need is a back or two to mix in with the stout and fleet Tauren. From the vids I saw all three players we brought to Birmingham carried themselves well. Dallas doesn't seem to be worried about the offensive line. I know that he should be thinking that, but we will have one of the biggest in the country. The goal of every player is to get on the field as a freshman. Well, guys, here is the opp on defense. We're supposed to have the best strength coach in the country. Here is where he stacks up the mortgage payments. if we work harder than anyone else (see Peyton's playbook) we will knock off the Gators and Mr. Muschamp, who is good but is trying to say the right things so badly he is showing his hand that the cupboard down there isn't exactly full. And the funniest thing is that they are worried about Brantley being all that.....

1965Vol writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Woof, woof! Attention whore...

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Gaulting: When you are better than the people covering you and you prove it when it counts. With checks (scoring touchdowns in the checkerboards). Google or YouTube Willie Gault for reference....

volmania97 writes:

in response to punkin:

It's almost 2:30 in the morning. Isn't it time for you to restock the beer cooler in the store?

Now that is funny....LMAO!!

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Hey don't rain on the parade. We will have the best team we had in 3 years. Try to enjoy it.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

One more thing for now. Have you not seen Hunter? He will change the game in his career. Da'Rick can too. Get on the wagon andb happier...Year one.............

RashaadSalabeb writes:

The defense will be fine and the offense will be fine! Of course the millions of screaming Big Orange fans will be there to see it all. Look out folks the Tennessee Vols are starting the engines. For those people who want to think we're still down....tough shat. We're back and there's nothing you can do about it!

Go Vols! Florida sucks! Alabama sucks! Of yeah, the others suck too!

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Go Rashaad...

jack_2222#231746 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You can't see where the excitement is coming from?

See, that's why you are a total troll and not a fan. I suppose you can't help being a troll, but you can understand why you are one.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Go Jack.....We the fans are important too. Because we get so loud in Neyland we affect games. It's what we do...

trubleoj#657755 writes:

Ignore the trolls. Let's talk Tennessee Football not the sad repeats of their last 50 posts (seriously they post the exact same chit day after day).

You want some Big Orange excitement? Try this:
http://yttm.tv/v/10422

Dewey to Flowers.

VolAtUGA11 writes:

Loving the posts from some true Vol fans! Let's get some excitement going!

Go. Big. Orange.

Give. Him. Six.

johnlg00 writes:

Could be a tough year for the Big Orange on defense. No question the offense and the special teams will have to shoulder a heavy load, especially in the early going. I hope our offense is able to pull off some long drives, but I am afraid that it is somewhat better constructed for quick strikes right now.

I haven't heard much about our kickers and punters, but hopefully our return game will be better than it's been since--gosh!--seems like forever. Our kick and punt coverage had better really step up, too. The biggest single improvement the defense and the cover guys could make is in their tackling. A team can have the best schemes in the world, but the bottom line has to be to put the ball-carrier on the ground as soon as possible. Forget about the high "knockout blows", which WILL be called more often as penalties this year; go low and wrap the guy up. About the best our defense can hope for, at least while the young ones are learning, is to make the opposing offense go the long way as often as possible and that our offense can force the opposition to hurry to keep up with our scoring.

Like any long-time, die-hard fan, I hope that things will fall into place for a good season, but I am tempering my optimism for now. Unless the Vols get killed too often in the early going, I think we will see some improvement in the won-lost record, but they are still at least a year away from being true contenders. At least that is the way I see it right now. GBO!!!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Didn't read all of his(CSS) post, but kinda skimmed over it(most of the time I ignore it) enough to notice that he is STILL obsessed with the same cr@p that most of us have forgotten about..He needs to go and express his concerns to Coach Wilcox and then maybe he will better..LOL!!!

On topic, get well Mr.Lathers because we will need you!!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

....then maybe he will "feel" better...LOL!! (sorry left out "feel")

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Could be a tough year for the Big Orange on defense. No question the offense and the special teams will have to shoulder a heavy load, especially in the early going. I hope our offense is able to pull off some long drives, but I am afraid that it is somewhat better constructed for quick strikes right now.

I haven't heard much about our kickers and punters, but hopefully our return game will be better than it's been since--gosh!--seems like forever. Our kick and punt coverage had better really step up, too. The biggest single improvement the defense and the cover guys could make is in their tackling. A team can have the best schemes in the world, but the bottom line has to be to put the ball-carrier on the ground as soon as possible. Forget about the high "knockout blows", which WILL be called more often as penalties this year; go low and wrap the guy up. About the best our defense can hope for, at least while the young ones are learning, is to make the opposing offense go the long way as often as possible and that our offense can force the opposition to hurry to keep up with our scoring.

Like any long-time, die-hard fan, I hope that things will fall into place for a good season, but I am tempering my optimism for now. Unless the Vols get killed too often in the early going, I think we will see some improvement in the won-lost record, but they are still at least a year away from being true contenders. At least that is the way I see it right now. GBO!!!

John,

It makes my day to see your posts here. I know I can count on somebody who has something to bring to the table with this site. It is a real departure from the stalkers.

Also, I'm glad you mentioned the kicking game.
Hopefully Palardy will be kicking off to the point of not allowing the ball to go out of bounds and giving the bad guys the ball at the 40, and if it is Darr punting, it'll be nice to see even a fairly short punt at least be very high. That's the rule in punting.........don't allow returns.

IMO, the O L should at least be better, more experienced etc. Center will be interesting. Stone was learning to snap the ball with his right hand. Who knows, perhaps one of the freshmen will be able to contribute.

Thanks for the good comments John.

Ayres_Hall writes:

We'll need to score a hundred to win. It'll be fun.

Volunatic writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Could be a tough year for the Big Orange on defense. No question the offense and the special teams will have to shoulder a heavy load, especially in the early going. I hope our offense is able to pull off some long drives, but I am afraid that it is somewhat better constructed for quick strikes right now.

I haven't heard much about our kickers and punters, but hopefully our return game will be better than it's been since--gosh!--seems like forever. Our kick and punt coverage had better really step up, too. The biggest single improvement the defense and the cover guys could make is in their tackling. A team can have the best schemes in the world, but the bottom line has to be to put the ball-carrier on the ground as soon as possible. Forget about the high "knockout blows", which WILL be called more often as penalties this year; go low and wrap the guy up. About the best our defense can hope for, at least while the young ones are learning, is to make the opposing offense go the long way as often as possible and that our offense can force the opposition to hurry to keep up with our scoring.

Like any long-time, die-hard fan, I hope that things will fall into place for a good season, but I am tempering my optimism for now. Unless the Vols get killed too often in the early going, I think we will see some improvement in the won-lost record, but they are still at least a year away from being true contenders. At least that is the way I see it right now. GBO!!!

The Vols' kick and punt coverage was greatly improved last season. That is one area where I'd be glad if they just matched last season's performance.
I agree wholeheartedly about the return game. Da'Rick showed potential as KOR, but punt returner is going to be a worry unless they find a guy who does WAAAAYYY better than anyone who attempted it last season. (I'd hate to see them go to the "No Punt Return" tactic, but that looks preferable to what we saw last season.)
I think the Vol O-line will be greatly improved due to experience. The "skill position" players are all established (except TE), and all of the starters there have shown flashes of greatness, so I'm hoping for improved consistency.
The Vol D-line will be greatly improved due to depth, as will the Defensive Secondary. While LB is a big question mark right now due to experience, there are still some very good players there, and with dominant D-line and D-Secondary helping them out through the learning curve, they will do fine this season.

oskie_score writes:

Had both my ankles reconstructed. The healing process can be tricky and should not be rushed...hence CDD stating "I don't know when he's going to be back. I can tell you this, it's not going to be anytime soon. We're just going to have to monitor it week to week..."
Godspeed, Herman.

On a positive note, not surprised by Dallas' comment regarding Curt Maggitt...he's a gamer, better suited for OLB than DE, IMO. Anticipate CM to be a special player and accomplish much during his (Tennessee) playing days.

Kelly8 writes:

Also a real blow to the Vols?

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