Jacques Smith is attacking from all angles

Sophomore elusive on the defensive line

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee defensive lineman Jacques Smith, right, tackles Cincinnati running back Jameel Poteat during the Vols' 45-23 win at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee defensive lineman Jacques Smith, right, tackles Cincinnati running back Jameel Poteat during the Vols' 45-23 win at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Jacques Smith started just by trying to learn the schemes for every position on the defensive line.

It turned out after breaking them down mentally, the Tennessee sophomore had the physical tools to play them all, too.

Now a guy who qualifies as a handful coming from only one angle has begun attacking offenses from all over, sliding in and out, standing up or putting his hand down. So before Smith can be blocked by teams like No. 16 Florida at The Swamp on Saturday (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.), it will have to find him first.

"I guess it's just about knowing positions," Smith said. "To know the defense, I mean, if you know one piece of the puzzle, you can probably figure out the rest. That's how it is for me. It's one big puzzle, and if I know my position, I probably should know everyone else's.

"I still feel my role is just kind of the same as it was last year, except I'm playing on the very first snap of the game. I mean, that's what (defensive coordinator Justin) Wilcox had me doing last year. I lined up at nose, three-technique and rush, and that's how they're going to utilize me. I feel like that's helping us out a lot."

Smith's versatility hasn't helped produce a flood of sacks for the Vols (2-0) through two games, though that's mostly been a product of the spread offenses they've faced to open the season.

Even with a pair of quick-hitting, up-tempo teams succeeding somewhat in slowing down the UT pass rush, Smith has created some headaches for offensive linemen dealing with his movement in the trenches — and maybe even a literal one for Zach Collaros as well after he drilled the Cincinnati quarterback on a sack he shared with Curt Maggitt last weekend.

The Gators (2-0) operate a more traditional, pro-style attack, which could produce more opportunities for Smith to cut loose, create pressure in the backfield and add to the 2.5 tackles for a loss he has to his credit this season. Depending on the situation and the personnel, Smith could be doing it from almost anywhere.

"Jacques has got some great qualities and so we're trying to find different ways to use him in the pass game so he can do his thing," defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. "The key there is to give us enough options but not to slow him down. So that's always the fine line that we're going to run.

"I think you see that more and more in today's game. It's really like receivers and defensive backs. You're trying to get receivers on defensive backs for certain mismatches, and we're trying to do the same thing on defense."

Without Smith understanding the scheme at every spot on the line, the Vols might not be able to use him to create some of those advantages up front. And it certainly takes a unique set of skills to play the various roles as well.

Smith's speed can make it difficult for tackles to block him coming around the edge. He has enough strength to hold his own against physical guards and centers on the interior.

And, naturally, the combination of both is what allows him to move around so freely in the first place.

"Jacques is a guy with versatility," defensive line coach Lance Thompson said. "He's explosive, he's got power, he's got some suddenness to him.

"We're never going to ask guys to do something they can't do or something that doesn't help the team, so whether it's Jacques or whoever it is, we're trying to put the best 11 on the field."

In most situations that group is going to include Smith. But where the Vols line him up is always subject to change.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward

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Comments » 38

PlaidinOrangeandWhite writes:

We need to get some pressure on the QB this weekend! We need some disruption back there; maybe force Brantley into a pick six. We need all of the DL to step up and man up. We need Jacques & Malik to dominant! I think they will!

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say there was a lot of talk about all the Freshman but Smith has been really good the last couple games. Witch Doctor say he does a bunch of things that dont show up on a stats sheet. Witch Doctor say he really has stepped up his game.
Bones never lie.

allvols4life writes:

Ok...Before I get a ton of flack from the trolls let me say this. I am not predicting who will or wont win the game Saturday. Now...for my fellow VOL fans, check out this song. Very funny and hopefully an omen for what will happen Saturday.

http://images.radcity.net/6756/485190...

Vol_Stuck_in_GA writes:

With Florida in a shotgun formation I'm looking forward to the race... Smith vs. the ball... which will get to Brantley first?

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to allvols4life:

Ok...Before I get a ton of flack from the trolls let me say this. I am not predicting who will or wont win the game Saturday. Now...for my fellow VOL fans, check out this song. Very funny and hopefully an omen for what will happen Saturday.

http://images.radcity.net/6756/485190...

Witch Doctor say kudos! Witch Doctor do this for a living and this pretty dang good. Witch Doctor golf clap!
Bones never lie.

1965Vol writes:

in response to allvols4life:

Ok...Before I get a ton of flack from the trolls let me say this. I am not predicting who will or wont win the game Saturday. Now...for my fellow VOL fans, check out this song. Very funny and hopefully an omen for what will happen Saturday.

http://images.radcity.net/6756/485190...

Hey man, that's dang good! Drainin' the swamp! Yes-sir-ree-bob ... drain that ol' swamp!

Sure hope that Bray boy knows how to direct that Vol pep band. I gotta feeling that about 7:30 Sat'rday night he's gonna be expected to be up on that ol' band director ladder directin' the band playin' good ol' "Rocky Top!"

ThaiVolFan writes:

in response to allvols4life:

Ok...Before I get a ton of flack from the trolls let me say this. I am not predicting who will or wont win the game Saturday. Now...for my fellow VOL fans, check out this song. Very funny and hopefully an omen for what will happen Saturday.

http://images.radcity.net/6756/485190...

Love the song. Think I'll play it at halftime once I begin to see it happening in the swamp. I can't wait it has been a long time coming. GBO!

lyafarre writes:

in response to allvols4life:

Ok...Before I get a ton of flack from the trolls let me say this. I am not predicting who will or wont win the game Saturday. Now...for my fellow VOL fans, check out this song. Very funny and hopefully an omen for what will happen Saturday.

http://images.radcity.net/6756/485190...

That's a good one right there, really made my day! Gotta say, I'm as optimistic about this Vols team as any we've sent to the swamp in several years. And I think our defense is gonna prove some doubters wrong. Can't wait for Saturday! Too bad I'll be in Sarajevo and will prob just have to find it on internet radio :-(

BruisedOrange writes:

QUESTION: Smith can move around because he understands all the positions, but when he moves, aren't other linemen then playing a different position or assuming different responsibilities? If Smith lines up at DE, then moves inside the tackle, isn't that tackle now the DE? Or do they bring up a linebacker to take the now vacated DE responsibilities?

Seems like his ability to move around would be limited by every other defensive player's ability to shift or assume new responsibilities. Am I missing something?

Vols4Ever writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

QUESTION: Smith can move around because he understands all the positions, but when he moves, aren't other linemen then playing a different position or assuming different responsibilities? If Smith lines up at DE, then moves inside the tackle, isn't that tackle now the DE? Or do they bring up a linebacker to take the now vacated DE responsibilities?

Seems like his ability to move around would be limited by every other defensive player's ability to shift or assume new responsibilities. Am I missing something?

Kudos to using logic and invoking the law of unintended consequences.

GBO !!!

letsgoUT writes:

in response to allvols4life:

Ok...Before I get a ton of flack from the trolls let me say this. I am not predicting who will or wont win the game Saturday. Now...for my fellow VOL fans, check out this song. Very funny and hopefully an omen for what will happen Saturday.

http://images.radcity.net/6756/485190...

Awesome song! I just wish I could close my eyes and it would be 3:30 on Saturday. Go Vols!!!

bjque2 writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

QUESTION: Smith can move around because he understands all the positions, but when he moves, aren't other linemen then playing a different position or assuming different responsibilities? If Smith lines up at DE, then moves inside the tackle, isn't that tackle now the DE? Or do they bring up a linebacker to take the now vacated DE responsibilities?

Seems like his ability to move around would be limited by every other defensive player's ability to shift or assume new responsibilities. Am I missing something?

Not really, if he moves inside from DE they will probably bring another DE in the game and take out the DT. When he moves back outside, they will bring back the DT and take out the extra DE.

GreeneVol writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

QUESTION: Smith can move around because he understands all the positions, but when he moves, aren't other linemen then playing a different position or assuming different responsibilities? If Smith lines up at DE, then moves inside the tackle, isn't that tackle now the DE? Or do they bring up a linebacker to take the now vacated DE responsibilities?

Seems like his ability to move around would be limited by every other defensive player's ability to shift or assume new responsibilities. Am I missing something?

Just a guess, but I'd say it's more like there are several combinations of personnel they can employ. Like for instance, maybe Smith at DE and Player 2 at tackle would work best in a certain situation, then Player 3 at DE and Smith at tackle in place of Player 2 for another situation...more-so than simply Smith and any other player switching positions on the line.

Options are good!

GreeneVol writes:

in response to bjque2:

Not really, if he moves inside from DE they will probably bring another DE in the game and take out the DT. When he moves back outside, they will bring back the DT and take out the extra DE.

Nice post lol

BruisedOrange writes:

in response to bjque2:

Not really, if he moves inside from DE they will probably bring another DE in the game and take out the DT. When he moves back outside, they will bring back the DT and take out the extra DE.

Okay, so you interpret this to be about where & how they substitute Smith. That makes more sense.

When I saw
"...sliding in and out, standing up or putting his hand down. So before Smith can be blocked [they] will have to find him first,"
I was picturing how Reggie White at Philadelphia used to switch positions WHILE they were lined up.

Hickmc writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

QUESTION: Smith can move around because he understands all the positions, but when he moves, aren't other linemen then playing a different position or assuming different responsibilities? If Smith lines up at DE, then moves inside the tackle, isn't that tackle now the DE? Or do they bring up a linebacker to take the now vacated DE responsibilities?

Seems like his ability to move around would be limited by every other defensive player's ability to shift or assume new responsibilities. Am I missing something?

Just guessing myself but I do know they rotate players in and out continuously so I would think they call the D depending on their substitutions or substitute depending on what alignment they choose to utilize. Go Vols!!!!!

VOLliven2it writes:

I hope Smith steps up and stops the Gators from where ever he may be and from where ever they attack. This should be a very good game and may even be closer than many think. I just want to see our guys give their all for 60 minutes regardless of the score or bad calls etc. It is almost time, just two more days! GO VOLS!

richvol writes:

Smith has the most well defined arms of any UT player I have ever seen. He is a MAN...needs to dominate.

MusicCityVol writes:

Smith is a critical piece to the rebuilding project that Derek Dooley is in charge of in Knoxville. Whether the Vols win or lose on Saturday, I can't wait to see how far they have come. Are we as close to Florida as we hope or are we still on the bottom of the mountain looking up at the Gators?

Big Orange Dose of Reality
http://www.checkerboardchatter.com/20...

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to VOLliven2it:

I hope Smith steps up and stops the Gators from where ever he may be and from where ever they attack. This should be a very good game and may even be closer than many think. I just want to see our guys give their all for 60 minutes regardless of the score or bad calls etc. It is almost time, just two more days! GO VOLS!

Totally agree with you! I'm not walking through this season thinking we're going to the SEC champiosnhip game (though I wouldn't cry about it either), but I do want to see some good, competitive football games! If we're competitive all year and keep some tough games close, it will just put a big ole smile on my face going into 2012, cause we're gonna be STACKED next year!

Can't wait to see the game this weekend... not to mention the fear in the Gators eyes! Nearly 700 yards in two games from our QB has got to scare the krap out of them!! :-)

Tru138 writes:

With arms like that they oughta call him Popeye.

Down_The_Field writes:

he won't be blocked saturday

Tenn_Dawg writes:

Geez that cat looks like he is chisled from stone. Very intimidating looking.

keithgibson writes:

If this kid was so good then he would have had more than 2 1/2 tackles against Montana

Mtnbiker writes:

Good to know they will use him in a way that makes it harder on the FL OL.

MemphoVol writes:

Don't forget that Floyd will be back this week in the defensive line for Florida after serving a two game suspension.
I hate to say it, but this game may come down to has the better defensive line play. And our offensive line has been suspect the first two games.

Pompey writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

QUESTION: Smith can move around because he understands all the positions, but when he moves, aren't other linemen then playing a different position or assuming different responsibilities? If Smith lines up at DE, then moves inside the tackle, isn't that tackle now the DE? Or do they bring up a linebacker to take the now vacated DE responsibilities?

Seems like his ability to move around would be limited by every other defensive player's ability to shift or assume new responsibilities. Am I missing something?

....what you missed is that you are not a football coach....duh!

CroKev writes:

I demand to know what Jacques is doing with MY arms!

alfrizzle097 writes:

in response to keithgibson:

If this kid was so good then he would have had more than 2 1/2 tackles against Montana

Hard to tell with defensive linemen. I mean, their job as much as anything is to A) pick up their blocker and B) move him where the play wants to go. Defensive linemen often won't get many tackles but still have a huge impact on the game.

We'll see this weekend where they stand.

givehim6 writes:

in response to allvols4life:

Ok...Before I get a ton of flack from the trolls let me say this. I am not predicting who will or wont win the game Saturday. Now...for my fellow VOL fans, check out this song. Very funny and hopefully an omen for what will happen Saturday.

http://images.radcity.net/6756/485190...

Best song I'v heard all year, my 3 year old grandson was in the room with me while I was playing it, he was dancing and smiling he gives a big GO VOLS also. One thing I like about the CDD players is they seem to play smarter, not saying anything bad about past Vols, just not that many in the past did learen to be multi-position players well.

murrayvol writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

QUESTION: Smith can move around because he understands all the positions, but when he moves, aren't other linemen then playing a different position or assuming different responsibilities? If Smith lines up at DE, then moves inside the tackle, isn't that tackle now the DE? Or do they bring up a linebacker to take the now vacated DE responsibilities?

Seems like his ability to move around would be limited by every other defensive player's ability to shift or assume new responsibilities. Am I missing something?

Good points but I like what I see from the Wilcox playbook so far. This guy doesn't miss much and Smith is the type player he loves....mobile, agile, and hostile.

UTbassdrummer writes:

in response to 1965Vol:

Hey man, that's dang good! Drainin' the swamp! Yes-sir-ree-bob ... drain that ol' swamp!

Sure hope that Bray boy knows how to direct that Vol pep band. I gotta feeling that about 7:30 Sat'rday night he's gonna be expected to be up on that ol' band director ladder directin' the band playin' good ol' "Rocky Top!"

Surely they're taking the entire band.

volinJC writes:

On defense, slowing down the gators' running game is the key for the Vols in this game. If we can force some third and longs and put the onus on Brantley to make plays we've got a great chance to come out with a victory. Smith could be the X factor.

On offense, the key is to protect the QB. If we can do that, we will score early and often.

The X factor will be special teams. We don't need to be spectacular here, just don't make any mistakes.

I think we'll do enough in each of these areas to come out with a victory in the swamp!

VOLS 31-21

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Good points but I like what I see from the Wilcox playbook so far. This guy doesn't miss much and Smith is the type player he loves....mobile, agile, and hostile.

Agreed!!

Smokey says send the house to pressure Brantley and force the weakness of the team to beat you..

abnermc writes:

Have 4 Ut/Fla tickets cheap if anyone is interested

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

Okay, so you interpret this to be about where & how they substitute Smith. That makes more sense.

When I saw
"...sliding in and out, standing up or putting his hand down. So before Smith can be blocked [they] will have to find him first,"
I was picturing how Reggie White at Philadelphia used to switch positions WHILE they were lined up.

Well, even if he IS moving around while lining up for a play, it would seem to stand to reason that the other players know what to do when he settles on a position at the snap. I mean, they would have practiced that, don't you think? If it WAS messing up the other guys in the games, they would probably fix that, wouldn't they? The idea is not to trick OUR guys by moving him around, it is to trick THEIR guys if possible.

It is the same thing as LBs and DBs cheating up to the line and dropping back, making the offense guess whether they are rushing or covering. The defensive players know which they are going to do, but the offense DOESN'T.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to keithgibson:

If this kid was so good then he would have had more than 2 1/2 tackles against Montana

Maybe they ran away from him or double-teamed him. Maybe he didn't play that much; it wasn't as if they needed him for every play. Maybe they were hiding him, hoping the Florida staff was as dumb as you are, making a silly argument based on a one-game stat like that. Nah, nobody would have expected that. Besides, that was two and a half TACKLES FOR LOSS, Einstein.

1BADVOL writes:

in response to Tenn_Dawg:

Geez that cat looks like he is chisled from stone. Very intimidating looking.

Intimidating is an understatement. I do have one question - what is he doing with his left fist? Actually I hope he does that to the Gators all day long on Saturday!!

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