Receivers look to counteract speed of Florida secondary

Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers (21) catches the ball in the end zone during the second quarter to take the score up to 20-14 over Cincinnati at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers (21) catches the ball in the end zone during the second quarter to take the score up to 20-14 over Cincinnati at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

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."

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Comments » 27

FEARinSEC writes:

Flarduh better hope their DB's can hang with our receivers. If not, it's going to be a looong day for the Gaturds.

mdvol writes:

Two things you cant coach: Fast and tall.

VOLS have both and get the W in Gainesville.

VOLS start the season 4-0! (Georgia 0-2)

ok_with_failure writes:

in response to FEARinSEC:

Flarduh better hope their DB's can hang with our receivers. If not, it's going to be a looong day for the Gaturds.

"Flarduh" is so much faster than Tennessee it is not funny. Demps and Rainey are gonna run all over your arse. Bray's big head will be ringing after the first quarter. Florida wins 34-17 and is in control most of the game.

Digital5000 writes:

You cant coach fast and tall, and you cant stop it. FL's DB's are in real trouble. I dont care if we run the ball 5 times if we can come out and swling it like we have been.

John Brantley vs Tyler Bray. say it out load and try to keep a straight face.

-Enjoy Yoself

tree_em_smokey writes:

in response to Digital5000:

You cant coach fast and tall, and you cant stop it. FL's DB's are in real trouble. I dont care if we run the ball 5 times if we can come out and swling it like we have been.

John Brantley vs Tyler Bray. say it out load and try to keep a straight face.

-Enjoy Yoself

I said each of their names and when I said Brantley I was laughing so hard I thought I was having a heart-attack!

LJS1984 writes:

in response to ok_with_failure:

"Flarduh" is so much faster than Tennessee it is not funny. Demps and Rainey are gonna run all over your arse. Bray's big head will be ringing after the first quarter. Florida wins 34-17 and is in control most of the game.

Just like the last two years when Floriduh had so much more talent and barely had a lead in the fourth quarter? Florida may win, but it won't be 34-17. More like last second.

BruisedOrange writes:

As I see it:
Tennessee's two opening opponents were each faster/better (in specific aspects) than Florida's two openers.

The big plays given up by the Vols defense have been due to busted assignments rather than technique (except for poorly chosen angles by a talented true-freshman corner).

Our running game has been hamstrung by missed assignments more than defeated blockers. Tennessee's timing/synch problems on the O-line will continue to improve with repetition and experience.

So the two big questions are, will Florida's D-line athleticism disrupt our O-line's timing when run-blocking, and what kind of time & space will the O-line provide Bray on pass plays?

It'll be interesting to see if Chaney will opt for short passes on first down to avoid those 3rd-&-long passing downs, or if Dooley will insist on seeing how his O-line run-blocks against a quality opponent.

Our receivers are in for lots of catches... but a physical beating. If Florida plays its shorter D-backs to contain rather than contend passes, then the game should come down to orange-zone points--whether we come away with TDs or field goals.

tomcollins28#554986 writes:

Maybe we can put our big and tall receivers on the defense to cover what the Gators are going to throw at us????Come on guys, they're going to run the ball!!!!

Go Vols!!!

CrankE writes:

Protect Bray. Protect the ball. Make the catch. Move the chains. Good things will happen.

In the words of Troy Landry, "CHOOT 'EM!!"

nepperso#220348 writes:

This game isn't going to be close.

UT - 42
UF - 24

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

Is this news? We knew we have the passing game in the bag already. They have the running game in the bag. Stop their run, and we win. Period.

The_Real_Orange writes:

This one may end up contrary to the rule of "whoever rushes for the most yards wins". We shall soon see.

keithgibson writes:

The truth of the matter is these receivers are average at best. I could have caught as many balls against the first two teams. how about we all calm down and see if they can really play against a good defense.

TheRealDragonSlayer writes:

The point was made in another thread that UT has shown a good knack for sustaining drives this year. To me, that is THE most inportant factor that will affect the outcome of this game.

It doesnt matter if we can run the ball against Florida or not, unlike previous years where this needed to be the case because we were playing against a spread offense that could score in a hurry (so time of posession was a major factor).

This time, after almost 2 decades, we are facing a Florida team that is playing a pro-style offense. In fact, we are the ones that UF will be considering as an offense that is a threat to score very quickly. So for us, sustaining long drives means that we are scoring. The running game may complement what we do, but with Bray/Hunter/Rogers, we have a quick strike offense that can also be a ball hog if it comes down to sustaining drives...think about it...if it comes down to it, a jump ball means that UT receivers will have the distinct advantage. Quick slants, out routes, long route jump balls, short route dump-offs, all of these will give our taller/bigger receivers a better shot at reaching a wider-thrown ball than the smaller secondary, and also a better matchup when it comes to reaching for that first down marker. And all these plays can sustain drives as much as a running game can.

Tauren Poole could pull off a great game, but the most important thing is that we dont need him to. Our offense is very reminiscent of the texas tech offenses of the past, except that we play with much more of a pro-set than a spread. We all know the difficulty Muschamp had in handling the high-flying passing games of the Red Raiders. I dont expect that to change immediately.

Bottom line...this will be a hard fought tough game that will test the mettle of both teams to the fullest extent. And for the first time in several years, we can go into this kind of a matchup with ful confidence. And that is refreshing.

GBO

TheRealDragonSlayer writes:

I apologize for the long previous post...and I still managed to miss out one point, so please bear with me as I share that:

Florida has shown a weakness in their passing game. Having scored 80 points in the first 2 games, their starting QB has only 1 passing TD. And it is common knowledge that in the first half of their last game, they couldnt score in the red zone, so they went exclusively to a running game for the entire second half. This may have led to sucess in the red zone, but at the same time, it exposes glaring weakness in their offense. There is no doubt that the UT defensive schemes will be drawn to take advantage of this.

BleednUrnge81 writes:

in response to keithgibson:

The truth of the matter is these receivers are average at best. I could have caught as many balls against the first two teams. how about we all calm down and see if they can really play against a good defense.

so when tennessee gets a five star like da'rick, he's average. but florida's coaching staff always knows which 5 star is gonna be a playmaker huh? ok. i can't wait till you put up your own recruiting website so i can subscribe. your awesome!

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

in response to TheRealDragonSlayer:

I apologize for the long previous post...and I still managed to miss out one point, so please bear with me as I share that:

Florida has shown a weakness in their passing game. Having scored 80 points in the first 2 games, their starting QB has only 1 passing TD. And it is common knowledge that in the first half of their last game, they couldnt score in the red zone, so they went exclusively to a running game for the entire second half. This may have led to sucess in the red zone, but at the same time, it exposes glaring weakness in their offense. There is no doubt that the UT defensive schemes will be drawn to take advantage of this.

Gotta agree with you. I am sure that everyone has noticed that 3rd down is not a horrible place to be this year. Last year, I dont think we converted a 3rd down until the 5th game. Slight exaggeration, but everyone here knows what I am talking about.

1974Vol writes:

in response to ok_with_failure:

"Flarduh" is so much faster than Tennessee it is not funny. Demps and Rainey are gonna run all over your arse. Bray's big head will be ringing after the first quarter. Florida wins 34-17 and is in control most of the game.

Keep drinking that kool-aid, your screen name fits your team

mdvol writes:

in response to TheRealDragonSlayer:

I apologize for the long previous post...and I still managed to miss out one point, so please bear with me as I share that:

Florida has shown a weakness in their passing game. Having scored 80 points in the first 2 games, their starting QB has only 1 passing TD. And it is common knowledge that in the first half of their last game, they couldnt score in the red zone, so they went exclusively to a running game for the entire second half. This may have led to sucess in the red zone, but at the same time, it exposes glaring weakness in their offense. There is no doubt that the UT defensive schemes will be drawn to take advantage of this.

I tend to agree/hope! This is the first trip to Gainesville I can remember where we dont have a coach hell-bent on pounding the rock. Got to admire that Dooley takes what the defense gives him. Seems willing to change on a dime. He knows we need to score in Gainesville so prepare for the aerial bombardment until they stop us or say no mas.

I, too, have visions of the Big 12 from 2 years ago where 40 a game was the norm. The defenses stunk in the Big 12 that year but I'm hopeful we are seeing a new philosophy in Big Orange Country.

VOLS start the season 4-0! (Georgia 0-2)

1974Vol writes:

in response to BleednUrnge81:

so when tennessee gets a five star like da'rick, he's average. but florida's coaching staff always knows which 5 star is gonna be a playmaker huh? ok. i can't wait till you put up your own recruiting website so i can subscribe. your awesome!

"Average" is gonna dance in your end zones all day long.

kman29 writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Is this kind of like your garbage a few years back on how a running QB like Tebow would never last in the SEC? All we ever heard was how QBs can not last an SEC schedule running the ball, now look how many SEC teams run a version of the spread option. Now you go with UFs RBs are too small. How about you take a look around the NFL at guys like Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones Drew. Even last year at Kansas City I clearly remember Weis having quite a bit of success with "too small of a running back" Dexter McCluster. But I know your probably still stuck in the old days where John Riggins has to be running the ball.

VOLfaninGAland writes:

I really think that TN can win this game. I think TN and FL are pretty equal on the talent level. This game is going to boil down to which team is more disciplined. In the past this game has been decided on who had the most rushing yards, I think this years game will be decided by the fewest penalties and turnovers. Hoping for a big win but will just be happy with a win. GO VOLS

BMSvol writes:

just keep running the score up coach....(and wear the orange pants)

devo-evol writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

As I see it:
Tennessee's two opening opponents were each faster/better (in specific aspects) than Florida's two openers.

The big plays given up by the Vols defense have been due to busted assignments rather than technique (except for poorly chosen angles by a talented true-freshman corner).

Our running game has been hamstrung by missed assignments more than defeated blockers. Tennessee's timing/synch problems on the O-line will continue to improve with repetition and experience.

So the two big questions are, will Florida's D-line athleticism disrupt our O-line's timing when run-blocking, and what kind of time & space will the O-line provide Bray on pass plays?

It'll be interesting to see if Chaney will opt for short passes on first down to avoid those 3rd-&-long passing downs, or if Dooley will insist on seeing how his O-line run-blocks against a quality opponent.

Our receivers are in for lots of catches... but a physical beating. If Florida plays its shorter D-backs to contain rather than contend passes, then the game should come down to orange-zone points--whether we come away with TDs or field goals.

Excellent post! Actual football analysis with knowledge and thought! How refreshing. This is what I signed up for not the school yard taunting and name calling, but especially not the cowardly trolls with misleading screen names that try to upset the Vol Nation with their kindergarden insults and complete void of football knowledge. Rock On and shall your Orange Be Bruised No More!!!

devo-evol writes:

in response to TheRealDragonSlayer:

The point was made in another thread that UT has shown a good knack for sustaining drives this year. To me, that is THE most inportant factor that will affect the outcome of this game.

It doesnt matter if we can run the ball against Florida or not, unlike previous years where this needed to be the case because we were playing against a spread offense that could score in a hurry (so time of posession was a major factor).

This time, after almost 2 decades, we are facing a Florida team that is playing a pro-style offense. In fact, we are the ones that UF will be considering as an offense that is a threat to score very quickly. So for us, sustaining long drives means that we are scoring. The running game may complement what we do, but with Bray/Hunter/Rogers, we have a quick strike offense that can also be a ball hog if it comes down to sustaining drives...think about it...if it comes down to it, a jump ball means that UT receivers will have the distinct advantage. Quick slants, out routes, long route jump balls, short route dump-offs, all of these will give our taller/bigger receivers a better shot at reaching a wider-thrown ball than the smaller secondary, and also a better matchup when it comes to reaching for that first down marker. And all these plays can sustain drives as much as a running game can.

Tauren Poole could pull off a great game, but the most important thing is that we dont need him to. Our offense is very reminiscent of the texas tech offenses of the past, except that we play with much more of a pro-set than a spread. We all know the difficulty Muschamp had in handling the high-flying passing games of the Red Raiders. I dont expect that to change immediately.

Bottom line...this will be a hard fought tough game that will test the mettle of both teams to the fullest extent. And for the first time in several years, we can go into this kind of a matchup with ful confidence. And that is refreshing.

GBO

you too also, great post with real football knowledge. I agree with most of your points. My opinion is it goes back to the basics, we have to at least play even in the trenches and if we do we should win by at least 10.

voloffaith writes:

in response to ok_with_failure:

"Flarduh" is so much faster than Tennessee it is not funny. Demps and Rainey are gonna run all over your arse. Bray's big head will be ringing after the first quarter. Florida wins 34-17 and is in control most of the game.

Old poster with new poster name.....same old song and dance. Yes I believe Tennessee will more than have it's hands full this Saturday. That being said I don't think it will be a woodshed experience as in former times. Ability to run on chompers and occasional stops on their offense give us a chance at victory. I guess that's why they play them.

keviningeorgia writes:

in response to keithgibson:

The truth of the matter is these receivers are average at best. I could have caught as many balls against the first two teams. how about we all calm down and see if they can really play against a good defense.

Those 2 receivers are better than average. I agree, the opponents were not great. But, those 2 receivers are NFL type talent.

How many catches they get this week will have more to do with UF's defensive line and blitzes than how good our receivers are though.

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