Naz Oliver makes debut for Tennessee

Wide receiver Naz Oliver participates in a drill during spring practice at Haslam Field on Thursday, March 29, 2012. 
 (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS/2012

Wide receiver Naz Oliver participates in a drill during spring practice at Haslam Field on Thursday, March 29, 2012. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee defensive back Naz Oliver had his first career tackle on Saturday against Kentucky.

Even more impressive: He also played his first snap.

The New Jersey native has had an injury-riddled career. After redshirting in 2009, he missed 2010 with an ACL injury and 2011 after an injury to his wrist.

He's been healthy in 2012. He just hasn't played.

But after Derek Dooley was fired, Oliver began tweeting that his opportunity would finally come. And on Saturday, it did, as Oliver registered a tackle and a pass breakup.

Other Vols making their debuts were junior Deanthonie Summerhill, who made two tackles on special teams, defensive back Max Arnold and offensive linemen Brock Collier and Jacob Gilliam.nTennessee offensive coordinator and interim head coach Jim Chaney stayed at Tennessee after Lane Kiffin left for Southern California. He said he'd love to stay in Knoxville again, but that decision will be up to the next coach.

"The gentleman that they hire, that's his job to make those decisions," Chaney said.nChaney said the coaching staff would focus on making sure current players finish strong academically. He said they would hit the recruiting trail "with Tennessee orange showing" until a permanent coach is hired.nKentucky coach Joker Phillips, who coached his final game after being fired earlier in this month, said he would "come back and haunt" players if they didn't wrap up the semester academically. Otherwise, he was ready to move out.

"My office is emptied. I have keys to turn in, and we're done," Phillips said. "It's time to go."nFormer Tennessee quarterback and outgoing U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler was honored as the Vols' legend of the game.

Shuler had more than 4,000 yards passing in his career and was the SEC player of the year and Heisman Trophy runner-up after the 1993 season.

Shuler announced he would not seek re-election to Congress in 2012.nKentucky freshman fullback D.J. Warren's first career touchdown reception was the Wildcats' first score of the day. Warren was a former standout at Alcoa High School, which has become a pipeline of sorts to Kentucky.

Randall Cobb is the most notable Alcoa graduate to wear Kentucky blue.

Warren is joined by tight end Tyler Robinson and defensive back Cody Lewis on the current Kentucky roster.nSenior tight end Mychal Rivera crossed 1,000 career receiving yards in his final game as a Vol. He caught a team-high five passes for 64 yards Saturday, ending his career with a reception in 18 consecutive games.

Rivera had 562 yards, breaking the record for a Tennessee tight end set by Jason Witten in 2002.nNational League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, a former Tennessee baseball player, was honored in first quarter. Dickey is the brother-in-law of senior football player Ben Bartholomew.nReceiver Cordarrelle Patterson set Tennessee's single-season record for all-purpose yards, breaking the record held by Reggie Cobb. Patterson finished the year with 778 yards receiving, 308 rushing, 671 on kickoff returns and 101 on punt returns.nLinebacker A.J. Johnson picked up his sixth rushing touchdown out of the "Beast" package that Tennessee employs in short-yardage situations.

That gives Johnson the unlikely distinction of being Tennessee's leading scorer on the ground, carrying 11 times in 11 games.

Johnson was credited with double-digit tackles for the 10th game in a row.nMichael Palardy's extra point attempt in the second quarter was blocked. It was the fifth missed PAT by Tennessee this season.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 37

govolsdid writes:

Glad to see Oliver and others get in the game and contribute, hope next coach can recruit some speed. It has been one of the weakest links of our defense the past couple years.

govolsdid writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

florida-volfan writes:

in response to govolsdid:

Glad to see Oliver and others get in the game and contribute, hope next coach can recruit some speed. It has been one of the weakest links of our defense the past couple years.

Seems like John Chavis's defenses had more speed and around the ball alot more...but they were also in the right positions to make plays as well

wononta writes:

""Linebacker A.J. Johnson picked up his sixth rushing touchdown out of the "Beast" package that Tennessee employs in short-yardage situations.

That gives Johnson the unlikely distinction of being Tennessee's leading scorer on the ground, carrying 11 times in 11 games.""

I don't think so. AJ Johnson has 6 TD's in 12 attempts now, and Tyler Drummer is perfect 1 for 1. TD gets it by percentage.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Great for Naz, but why wouldn't you try any combination out there?? Just goes to show how inept this coaching staff was.

tnvol34 writes:

Glad to see new faces in the game! Should have already been in, because some of the starters,look lost and not interested!,in the secondary! The guys,just don't seem to hustle, and are not tough enough on DEFENSE! Runners just brush them aside, and keep going! Balls hit defensive backs right in their hands! and they can't catch them! then, they laugh about it! I've never seen a TN defense this bad! CMON! JON GRUDEN! PLEASE!!!!!

Vol-TIL-I-FaLL writes:

in response to wononta:

""Linebacker A.J. Johnson picked up his sixth rushing touchdown out of the "Beast" package that Tennessee employs in short-yardage situations.

That gives Johnson the unlikely distinction of being Tennessee's leading scorer on the ground, carrying 11 times in 11 games.""

I don't think so. AJ Johnson has 6 TD's in 12 attempts now, and Tyler Drummer is perfect 1 for 1. TD gets it by percentage.

please tell me your high..thats the only way ill think you even went the wrong way on your comprehension skills alil there bro

willblitz4bacon writes:

in response to carbonatedmilk:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Agree! I hope Tennessee lands Gruden.
I don't want another "safe" hire. Whenever the University starts putting some of that capital in HUMAN BEINGS instead of bricks then we might see some championship seasons.

lomas98 writes:

I read about this kid before the season started. While he might not have been the best talent, what would it have hurt to try him before now. Nothing was working in the defensive backfield. He seemed like he was always around the ball when he was in. Just figured they would have tried all options when everybody was struggling. Based on his twitter, either he knew dooley didn't like him or he was going to get some pt due to being senior day.

PinballWizard writes:

Glad to see he got some playing time and made a good contribution. Sounds like its been a tough college career. Wish Oliver the best in the future.

Razzle writes:

Time to get Gruden here. Make it happen.

oldster writes:

Wasn't Monte Kiffin Gruden's defensive co-ordinator in Tampa Bay? If so, perhaps Monte's success or lack thereof against modern college offenses might suggest something of a problem for Gruden also, no?

govolsdid writes:

I think these kids played a lot harder today than they did last week, just showing it was time for a coaching change. Hope we can find the right fit for us to go forward! BLEED ORANGE!!!!!!!!

allvol8 writes:

in response to oldster:

Wasn't Monte Kiffin Gruden's defensive co-ordinator in Tampa Bay? If so, perhaps Monte's success or lack thereof against modern college offenses might suggest something of a problem for Gruden also, no?

I don't know....I know Gruden is a proven NFL HC...but not a college HC...time will tell if he is the chosen one..

gwavescVOL writes:

in response to florida-volfan:

Seems like John Chavis's defenses had more speed and around the ball alot more...but they were also in the right positions to make plays as well

Chief had them in the right positions unless the opponent was down by a single score on their last possession. BAMA's final drive of the LSU/BAMA game was awfully reminiscent of his days in orange, giving up the game late with a prevent D! But don't get me wrong I'd take him back now without a second thought.

gwavescVOL writes:

in response to tnvol34:

Glad to see new faces in the game! Should have already been in, because some of the starters,look lost and not interested!,in the secondary! The guys,just don't seem to hustle, and are not tough enough on DEFENSE! Runners just brush them aside, and keep going! Balls hit defensive backs right in their hands! and they can't catch them! then, they laugh about it! I've never seen a TN defense this bad! CMON! JON GRUDEN! PLEASE!!!!!

Agreed on all points, but the GROVELING FOR Gruden HAS GOT TO STOP. He's done nothing that should make us believe he is a sure fire guaranteed success! Have no problem with him as the coach, he'll bring some fire with him and will recruit well. But those things will both be short lived if he can't win ballgames, something he has not proven he can do with consistency. He's not been on a college FB sideline in over 20yrs (then only a grad asst mind you). Then as an NFL HC went 40-28 in Oakland, pretty good but that still only got him in the playoffs with nothing to show for the appereances. Then after winning the SB his first year in Tampa thanked Dungy publicly in the postgame SB ceremony (not to mention W.Sapp and several other Tampa players spoke out giving credit to Dungy). The next two seasons he went 7-9 and 5-11, so please STOP with the Gruden is a savior mantra!!! There are significantly better choices out there!

Pipe_Down_Otis writes:

Gruden is NOT coming, according to Paul Finebaum or whatever his name is, in Alabama. He's that well known radio host down there....I'm no fan of his, but with his connections he's usually on top of stuff.

VolsFanInAfghanistan writes:

If I were a HC or assistant and I was out on the recruiting trail, I would treat each one of these kids as a job interview, something like this. So young man i've seen a lot of film of your play style and I'd like for you to come play for the University of Tennessee. Aside from a very good education, I'm looking to use you in said offense or defense, what do you think about that. His next answer would be the starting point of if I want this kid or not. If he is listed as a 4 or 5 star recruit he's going to have a big head due to everyone telling him how good he is. Unless he has a very good upbringing you'll know if it's a me, me, me attitude. Kids from Tennessee want the chance to play for Tennessee i'm sure, but they are often over looked due to various reasons, size, speed, grade point average, etc, but I think with a lot of coaching from the right staff he'll give you his all. Recruit like crazy, but find the right fit, be it a 3 star or whatever. We don't need to have anymore distractions from players that want and want more. Find the right fit and spin them up with the right staff and lets make this happen. We need kids who like most of us ask for, will give there all for The University Of Tennessee, as well as a coaching staff that will give the same.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to carbonatedmilk:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Chaney did do much better in play calling this year but his refusing to run the ball in obvious run situations drive me crazy! He owes much of his success to having a good Oline and tons of talent in the passing game..He has been his own worse enemy by trying to dip into the long ball game breaker way too many times when all he needed was a 5 yard gain

punkin writes:

in response to Pipe_Down_Otis:

Gruden is NOT coming, according to Paul Finebaum or whatever his name is, in Alabama. He's that well known radio host down there....I'm no fan of his, but with his connections he's usually on top of stuff.

Just admitting that you listen to Finebaum shows your mentality.

OldVols68 writes:

in response to florida-volfan:

Seems like John Chavis's defenses had more speed and around the ball alot more...but they were also in the right positions to make plays as well

As much as I would love to see Chaney back, plus get Chavis back as well, I fear the next coach will bring his own staff; plus we burned the bridge letting Chavis go when Fulmer went bye-bye. After Chavis, I would have loved to see Justin Wilcox stay. But all that is gone.

Sir_Spanky writes:

in response to punkin:

Just admitting that you listen to Finebaum shows your mentality.

The Jerry Springer of sports talk radio. The perfect entertainment for a Tide man and his first cousin, new bride.

wagee12 writes:

Hey boys, ya'll forgot about Evan Woodpecker's prediction yesterday! Again, what sports did you play in high school there Woodpecker? Got any hot stock tips for us today? If you ever are fired from guessing at sports, maybe you could get a job with the LA Psychic Hotline!

no1djkb#278630 writes:

Why do you guys want Gruden so bad? YOu got Charlie Strong, a proven defensive coordinator in the SEC and you have stability on the offensive side. Why not get Strong and keep the offensive staff. I know you guys want admit it but I think Strong would connect with the players better then Gruden.

no1djkb#278630 writes:

Will not admit I mean:).

RockVegas writes:

in response to no1djkb#278630:

Why do you guys want Gruden so bad? YOu got Charlie Strong, a proven defensive coordinator in the SEC and you have stability on the offensive side. Why not get Strong and keep the offensive staff. I know you guys want admit it but I think Strong would connect with the players better then Gruden.

I agree,if Gruden will come I'm all for it.I think C.Strong would be a great fit at U.T.When he was in the SEC his defense was ready every ball game.He knows how to recruit plus he has ties to the state of Florida.With that being said I don't know what the problem is,because he is the best coach out there if you ask me,but we'll see.I just hope it's not the same old Tennessee politics as always with this next hire...GBO.

Vol_in_Mich writes:

Boy, I sure am glad the "Fans" on here will have no say in hiring a new staff.

jt45 writes:

Oliver should have been playing all year, he looked pretty good yesterday, certainly better than what we saw from many others this season. I know he had some injury issues for a couple of seasons, but some rumors suggest Dooley might have ignored this young mans talent on purpose.
He was supposed to be a good catch out of high school, too bad his career never got a chance here. I wish him the best of luck and enjoyed watching him do his job yesterday at a cold Neyland Stadium.

wagee12 writes:

in response to jt45:

Oliver should have been playing all year, he looked pretty good yesterday, certainly better than what we saw from many others this season. I know he had some injury issues for a couple of seasons, but some rumors suggest Dooley might have ignored this young mans talent on purpose.
He was supposed to be a good catch out of high school, too bad his career never got a chance here. I wish him the best of luck and enjoyed watching him do his job yesterday at a cold Neyland Stadium.

Naz Oliver is a red-shirt junior, he has another season to play at UT. Who told you he was a senior,Woodpecker? BTW, do you recall that Woodpecker picked Kensucky to win the game yesterday?

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to florida-volfan:

Seems like John Chavis's defenses had more speed and around the ball alot more...but they were also in the right positions to make plays as well

Chavis' defenses were zones so reaction speed was a necessity, flat-out foot speed wasn't absolutely necessary. And remember, Fulmer, with all his issues, was a major recruiter, at least until the last couple of years. He gave Chavis a bevy of future NFL guys to use every year. But the one thing that Chavis' defenses, at least the dominant ones, always had: a fearsome D-line. His 2-deep zone was predicated on it and when he had it, it was killer. Same at LSU... Take away the disruptive D-line and his schemes were pedestrian, ie., against Spurrier's Fun-n-Gun, which got the ball out so quickly it neutralized our D-line. I like Chavis but all the nightmares returned watching him "prevent" LSU from beating Alabama three weeks ago. Sunseri's (thus Saban's) 3-4 MUST have serious foot speed and quickness in the secondary, plus be sure tacklers. Our guys lacked two of the three and it showed. To be fair, when Sunseri finished spring practice, he had Brian Randolph, Iz.... (sp?) Lanier, and Jantzen Jackson, 3-4 studs all, two of whom were gone by August and Randolph was lost in FL game so..... At those positions, Dooley had not recruited enough depth, the 3-4 was doomed, and DD's fate was sealed. Go Vols!!!

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to oldster:

Wasn't Monte Kiffin Gruden's defensive co-ordinator in Tampa Bay? If so, perhaps Monte's success or lack thereof against modern college offenses might suggest something of a problem for Gruden also, no?

Monte definitely struggled against the spread but was pretty terrific against the pro-set. Unfortunately, several teams in the SEC now run the spread and three of the best, Florida, South Carolina, and Missouri, are in the East. We def need somebody who understands how to defend that. Plus, Gruden is an offensive guru, he will simply hire a DC and more or less let that side of the ball go so I doubt that would hinder his hiring. The most likely two things keeping him out of Knoxville are (a), his lack of interest in working the college game, and (b), we simply can't afford him. We all need to stop dreaming about Gruden. Go Vols!!!

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to gwavescVOL:

Agreed on all points, but the GROVELING FOR Gruden HAS GOT TO STOP. He's done nothing that should make us believe he is a sure fire guaranteed success! Have no problem with him as the coach, he'll bring some fire with him and will recruit well. But those things will both be short lived if he can't win ballgames, something he has not proven he can do with consistency. He's not been on a college FB sideline in over 20yrs (then only a grad asst mind you). Then as an NFL HC went 40-28 in Oakland, pretty good but that still only got him in the playoffs with nothing to show for the appereances. Then after winning the SB his first year in Tampa thanked Dungy publicly in the postgame SB ceremony (not to mention W.Sapp and several other Tampa players spoke out giving credit to Dungy). The next two seasons he went 7-9 and 5-11, so please STOP with the Gruden is a savior mantra!!! There are significantly better choices out there!

Excellent post. I think Hart and the Vol nation would be well served to let the fantasy of Gruden go and move on to more reasonable (translated: proven in the college game and much less expensive) targets. Go Vols!!!

mloaks#222092 writes:

Lusting after Gruden is like hoping Palin could be VPOTUS; same doomed, silly projection of 'chosen one'-chimera or patine on a glamour pu$$...

Tks for yr efforts, Naz & all...

Razzle writes:

One thing for sure. No matter who the new coach is, he will certainly have his detractors.

jt45 writes:

in response to wagee12:

Naz Oliver is a red-shirt junior, he has another season to play at UT. Who told you he was a senior,Woodpecker? BTW, do you recall that Woodpecker picked Kensucky to win the game yesterday?

Where in my post did I say he was a Senior ? His career here hasent been what it was expected to be. Based on how this season turned out, there will be several players that need some Luck to make it to the next level. I hope he gets a chance to see more games.

Who the H**l is woodpecker ?

alavol writes:

in response to gwavescVOL:

Agreed on all points, but the GROVELING FOR Gruden HAS GOT TO STOP. He's done nothing that should make us believe he is a sure fire guaranteed success! Have no problem with him as the coach, he'll bring some fire with him and will recruit well. But those things will both be short lived if he can't win ballgames, something he has not proven he can do with consistency. He's not been on a college FB sideline in over 20yrs (then only a grad asst mind you). Then as an NFL HC went 40-28 in Oakland, pretty good but that still only got him in the playoffs with nothing to show for the appereances. Then after winning the SB his first year in Tampa thanked Dungy publicly in the postgame SB ceremony (not to mention W.Sapp and several other Tampa players spoke out giving credit to Dungy). The next two seasons he went 7-9 and 5-11, so please STOP with the Gruden is a savior mantra!!! There are significantly better choices out there!

agreed, Petrino and jim Chaney

1

no1djkb#278630 writes:

in response to Vol_in_Mich:

Boy, I sure am glad the "Fans" on here will have no say in hiring a new staff.

The fans on here make great comments for the most part in my opinion. Don't think you are reading them correctly:). The only coach I think is a reach is John Gruden. Tennessee alumni need to be realistic. I am 44 years old and have been a fan since I can remember. Shoot I still have a picture with my UT shirt on and my Stretch Armstrong toy in hand LOL! You guys remember that toy? Anyway this program is in the toilet right now it is just a fact. I think we need to hire a coach that has coached in the SEC. I love Fulmer but I think as the SEC got better, he got worse and the program got worse. He was a great coach in the 90's and early 2000's, the game just past him. Get a guy with some fire and a guy who knows what to expect from SEC fans and what it will take to win in this league.

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