Tyler Bray on Florida's secondary, Vol's offensive line
Shortly after he broke down some film of Florida's secondary earlier this week, Tyler Bray took a glance at the Gators' depth chart.
What the Tennessee quarterback saw on film didn't match what he saw on paper.
"They're listed at 206 (pounds) or something like that," Bray said. "We know how that one goes. I was listed at 210 last year."
Bray, of course, wasn't 210 pounds last year, and only one Gators defensive back, safety Matt Elam, officially weighs in at 206 pounds. The rest hover between 180 and 190 pounds and all but two players who will likely see the field Saturday (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.) are shorter than six feet tall.
Bray's point was clear: The Gators' secondary is as small — if not smaller — as advertised
With Bray divvying the majority of his pass attempts between the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Da'Rick Rogers and the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Justin Hunter, size is clearly on the Vols' side.
How much of an advantage it presents depends on whom you ask.
"Height advantage always helps no matter what sport it is," Bray said.
"Sometimes athletic ability overcomes size," wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett said. "We have stressed to our guys that no matter what size they are we have to win. And winning from a receiver standpoint means getting open."
Few teams in college football have been as successful stopping the pass as Florida through the first two games of the season. The Gators are 12th nationally in pass defense, as they've allowed 124 yards per game and have yet to surrender a touchdown.
The competition they saw in the form of FAU and UAB, of course, hasn't provided the kind of test UT will pose Saturday, but it has the young, speedy unit feeling tall heading into its biggest game to date.
"They're fast," said Rogers, who teamed with Florida sophomore cornerback Cody Riggs at the 2010 Under Armour Game. "But I don't think they're so fast where it's going to make a difference where I can't run fast with them, or Justin or our other receivers can't."
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said Wednesday that he doesn't think about the height of the opposing secondary because he's "more into just running what we do as good as we possibly can and try to execute it."
In the event that Chaney would ever listen to one of his players for game-planning advice, Hunter had a suggestion.
"Throw a jump-ball or something like that," Hunter said, "because they're real quick and we're real tall and fast."
Health Report: With Saturday's game at Florida looming nearer and nearer, Tennessee (2-0) put on the pads Wednesday, but exercised caution with two of its top defensive starters.
For a second consecutive day, cornerback Prentiss Waggner was in a red, non-contact jersey because of a banged-up shoulder. Freshman linebacker Curt Maggitt also was in red because of an unspecified injury, but neither player's status is in doubt for the Vols' SEC opener against the Gators (2-0), coach Derek Dooley said.
"They're doing fine," Dooley said. "Just precautionary, get a little sore, get a little banged up, just want to make sure everybody is aware of them when they're around. That's really why we do that."
Dooley and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand were both optimistic about left tackle Dallas Thomas and his recovery from a sprained right knee. Dooley has repeatedly said that Thomas will play Saturday, and Thomas said it would take much more than a mild sprain to keep him out.
Dooley was less hopeful about defensive end Ben Martin, who sprained his ankle last week against Cincinnati.
"Ben's still struggling," Dooley said. "I don't know how much we're going to get out of him."
Defensive back Byron Moore was limited during the portion of practice open to media members.
Feel the Noise: The Vols got their first dose of crowd noise Wednesday, and the results were mixed.
Dooley said the first-team offense handled it well, but the second-teamers "barely got a play off."
"What you're trying to simulate with the noise is just an ability to communicate when it's loud, but there's a second component to it," Dooley said. "That's the anxiety level that comes with it when you're in the stadium.
"Generally when that noise is coming on offense, it's probably a big third-down play, maybe second down didn't go as good or this is a real critical play in the game, maybe it's on the goal line, so the margin of error is really tight."