Vols get momentum from defense's big stops

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley cheers on defensive back Prentiss Waggner (23) after the Vols' defense stopped Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros on a 4th and 1 attempt in the second quarter at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley cheers on defensive back Prentiss Waggner (23) after the Vols' defense stopped Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros on a 4th and 1 attempt in the second quarter at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee-Cincinnati Game in Review

Tennessee came out and missed some critical tackles.

It struggled at times to simply line up properly.

A quick-hitting spread offense again kept the Vols from piling up many sacks.

But when an attack predicated on finesse needed to line up and play physically, a UT defensive front that spent the offseason being doubted pinned its ears back, dominated the line of scrimmage and swung the momentum one critical short-yardage stop at a time in a 45-23 win over Cincinnati on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

"It's a great feeling," defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. "We go in there every week and talk about getting the big stops, don't let them get the small stuff.

"When we can go out there and get stops on them like that, it's big momentum for the defense and the offense. I think we got points off it, so it's always big when you get stops on fourth-and-1."

The Vols (2-0) got them twice in the second quarter, turning what had been an explosive, competitive battle into a blowout with a pair of impressive plays in the backfield.

Picked apart early through the air due to some issues matching personnel and victimized by a long touchdown after whiffing on running back Isaiah Pead in the first quarter, it looked as if it would be up to the Vols' offense to simply out-slug the Bearcats (1-1) if they were going to stay unbeaten.

But with Cincinnati needing to keep pace just as badly with UT moving the ball at will, it gambled twice near midfield in fourth-and-short situations. And after A.J. Johnson and Maurice Couch knifed through the Bearcats line to take down Pead, and Jackson and Brent Brewer corralled Zach Collaros two drives later, it was the Vols who hit the jackpot.

"That was it, I mean, those are turnovers," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "People don't realize how big those are, because it's not just the stop, it's field position. Those are about 40-yard stops, turnovers, and it generates juice. You get excited, and those plays are huge.

"We made a lot of mistakes defensively lining up, and that's half the battle. Those guys have a fast pace, they get in a lot of formations and it stressed us. We didn't do a good job of tackling early, but the difference really was the three big stops ... giant plays to allow us to pull away. Those were difference-makers."

The Vols added another game-changer in a cramped situation, shutting down three consecutive plays from their own 1-yard line and forcing a field goal that effectively ended any chance of a Cincinnati comeback.

The unit certainly wasn't perfect after that, allowing another touchdown after inheriting bad field position following a fumble by Vols running back Rajion Neal. And Dooley found plenty of other issues to correct before a much bigger test on the road next week at Florida.

But stepping up in short-yardage, high-pressure situations probably won't be one of them.

"We were really physical and we went out there and took it to them, made the play," Jackson said. "I think we've changed a lot of people's perception of us as far as our game play.

"Last week was kind of an easy game (against Montana), they expected us to win. This week we had to fight really hard, we played really well and I think people have to raise an eyebrow at us and see that we have people in the front-seven that can really do it."

Especially when it can force a spread team to do battle in the trenches.

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Comments » 21

VolGrad writes:

Both the offense and defense have improved since game 1. Both have much more improvement needed, but they didn't back up against a somewhat stronger team in Cincy. The defense got whipped early but buckled down and resolved those issues. It has been a while since we saw our defensive squad actually improve during a game.

Go Vols!!!

Ga_Dave writes:

I want to eat Bar-B-Cued Swamp Lizard next Sat. for dinner. GBO practice hard, get ready, it's going to be a WAR in the swamp.

VolGrad writes:

Tennessee 42
Florida 24

GBO!!!

BigVolFaninSC writes:

That D line showed quickness off the ball on those 2 fourth down plays, too! And it wasn't just one or two, but the whole line seemed to just crush in on the runner both times! I think Cincy realized the game was over after those two failures! BAM!...It was over! Keep on making those deposits boys! GBO!

VolzsFan writes:

Vanderbilt has beaten a better 1AA team and a better Big East team. They are 2-0. They have done more than UT.

Mr_Bandman writes:

Go vote for Tyler Bray for Capital One Cup Impact Performance of the Week at
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/featur...

dvhill100 writes:

The two 4th down stops were impressive, but the goal line stand was even more so. It has been a while since the defense made those kinds of plays. The preliminaries are done, now UT and UF get to see where they really are.

Congrats to Bray on the ESPN helmet sticker. As always, the receivers had more than a little to do with that.

dislikethemtrolls writes:

Besy overall game in quite some time. This transplanted Vol in Texas is proud of his vols. Can anyone give me the official UT site for tickets? Wanting to get tickets for Arkansas game. Thanks. And Volzfan who gives a chit.

iowavol writes:

in response to Mr_Bandman:

Go vote for Tyler Bray for Capital One Cup Impact Performance of the Week at
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/featur...

We need more voters. Love the fact ESPN left off Tyler's rushing TD while including Michigan's.

The_Swamp writes:

in response to Ga_Dave:

I want to eat Bar-B-Cued Swamp Lizard next Sat. for dinner. GBO practice hard, get ready, it's going to be a WAR in the swamp.

The UT game has lost some of it's luster with Florida having won the last six in a row. Down here we are hoping your hire of Dooley will improve UT to the point that they once again become a factor in the SEC.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Vanderbilt has beaten a better 1AA team and a better Big East team. They are 2-0. They have done more than UT.

did u say something???

VolsFanInAfghanistan writes:

in response to dislikethemtrolls:

Besy overall game in quite some time. This transplanted Vol in Texas is proud of his vols. Can anyone give me the official UT site for tickets? Wanting to get tickets for Arkansas game. Thanks. And Volzfan who gives a chit.

Try stub hub for your tickets if you can't find the official UT site.

GerryOP writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Vanderbilt has beaten a better 1AA team and a better Big East team. They are 2-0. They have done more than UT.

Lil' ZZGataBoy must stay on here 24 hours a day watching for new articles just so he can post his silly nonsense.

Does anyone else wonder why KNS can not do like other blogs and come up with a way to permanently ban this trash? Their allowing and maybe even promoting this drivel has turned a once great site into a ceZZpool.

volcycle writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Vanderbilt has beaten a better 1AA team and a better Big East team. They are 2-0. They have done more than UT.

HA HA! Really? That's the best you've got?

Mr_Bandman writes:

in response to Mr_Bandman:

Go vote for Tyler Bray for Capital One Cup Impact Performance of the Week at
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/featur...

TB is currently tied with D. Robinson of Michigan---both have 39% of the vote---all VOLS fans need to go vote for Tyler Bray!

FlaVol2 writes:

Great game for the young Vols. Looking forward to next week and what they can do against Florida. Go Vols!!!

The_Swamp writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Lil' ZZGataBoy must stay on here 24 hours a day watching for new articles just so he can post his silly nonsense.

Does anyone else wonder why KNS can not do like other blogs and come up with a way to permanently ban this trash? Their allowing and maybe even promoting this drivel has turned a once great site into a ceZZpool.

Year in an year out I read the same thing from UT fans -- not all, but some. You talk about closing this site, but at least the KNS has enough sense to understand that by doing so would be like a person sitting in front of a mirror and trying have a conversation with his/her reflection. What are you afraid of when it comes to us "trolls"? Must be something!

VolDad4Life writes:

Let's hope we are saying this again next week. I suspect out will be all about defense next week. Good or bad.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

If you want the trolls to go away, stop responding to them!

Bray is currently ahead on the ESPN vote deal by 40% to 38%!

VolBy3 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Vanderbilt has beaten a better 1AA team and a better Big East team. They are 2-0. They have done more than UT.

R U 4 real? Learn football. Please!! Doorstops 4-8 Vols 9-3 and still climbing!

ALL4VOLS!!

The_Swamp writes:

in response to VOL_GOD:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

First of all it's been SIX years since you've beaten us -- so why come back in here and rub your nose in it? Do you REALLY want me to come back in here this Sunday if we win? Don't worry, I have more class than that.

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