Vols' defense bends, allows 344 yards, but protects win

UT defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri directs Tennessee Volunteers defensive back Marsalis Teague (10) as head coach Derek Dooley calls a time out against Akron at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

UT defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri directs Tennessee Volunteers defensive back Marsalis Teague (10) as head coach Derek Dooley calls a time out against Akron at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Recap: Akron at Tennessee

Akron's Quentin Hines is taken down by several Vols during second half Saturday, Sep. 22, 2012. Tennessee defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore (94), A.J. Johnson (45) and Corey Miller (80). (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Akron's Quentin Hines is taken down by several Vols during second half Saturday, Sep. 22, 2012. Tennessee defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore (94), A.J. Johnson (45) and Corey Miller (80). (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Thank goodness for three interceptions and a bend-but-don't-break defense.

Tennessee's defense yielded four field goals and one big breakdown on a rushing play during a 47-26 victory over Akron on Saturday night at Neyland Stadium.

Akron senior quarterback Dalton Williams completed 27 of 49 passes for 229 yards.

"They averaged like less than 5 yards an attempt for the game," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "These guys threw for 600 yards last week (in a 66-6 victory over Morgan State). We knew they were going to complete some passes."

UT had three defensive starters not listed No. 1 on the pre-game depth chart — end Corey Miller, nose guard Steven Fowlkes, and linebacker Dontavis Sapp.

The Vols got a big play on Akron's first series when Williams was pressured by Sapp and threw an interception to free safety Byron Moore, who returned it 20 yards and set up a field goal.

"Give credit to the D-line all night," Moore said. "We knew we could pressure the front seven up there, and coach Sal (Sunseri, defensive coordinator) put us in the right position to make the play."

UT forced a punt on the Akron's next drive, but the Zips converted a fumble recovery into a 45-yard field goal by Robert Stein on the next possession, then put together two long drives that resulted in two more field goals by Stein.

With 2:14 left in the half, Akron senior running back Quentin Hines ran up the middle and into the open field for a 70-yard touchdown run and a 23-20 lead.

Williams was 11-of-22 passing in the first half for 109 yards, as the Vols employed five and six defensive backs. It was tied 23-all at halftime.

"The score at halftime isn't the score that matters," Moore said. "It's a four-quarter game, and we just keep our composure and come out and try to play 60 minutes as best we can."

Moore got his second interception early in the third quarter at the Vols' 2-yard line and returned it 15 yards.

Akron mustered only one more long drive in the game, and that resulted in another Stein field goal.

"The worst play was the run (by Hines)," Dooley said. "When you play teams like that, that throw it that much, and we chose not to come after them and blitz the quarterback because we didn't want to give up a cheap one, so we wanted to make them earn it the hard way."

Eric Gordon got the Vols' third interception in the fourth quarter on a pass by Williams that went off the hands of Zips receiver Marquelo Suel.

UT's defense forced the Zips to go three and out on four drives in the second half.

"We played it real simple," Dooley said. "We weren't getting a lot of pressure, but what we didn't want to do was sell the house and give up a cheap one (on a pass play), and we kept it real simple in the second half, just played a couple of zone coverages and tackled and covered and did a good job."

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Comments » 13

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

I was disappointed with the offense's lack of consistency (especially in the red zone), but I was pleased with Raijon Neal's performance tonight. Actually, he also had a decent game last week against the Gators. A few holes against the Dawgs might help the Big Orange offense be a little more balanced. It's going to take this and some more to have any chance next week. Let's just see Tenn's best effort, on both sides of the ball, and see what happens.

ClintTNKnox writes:

That long run before the half was the worst! I hate the fumbles and Bray missed an open reciever in the endzone once but looked pretty solid after that. Go Vols.

td writes:

Next week in Athens is really the Vols first road game (Ga Dome was neutral site). What's scary, I think, is three of the next four are SEC road games, and the only home stand is against the nation's #1 team! If Tennessee gets to Halloween with a 5-3 record, it will rate as a major accomplishment. On the other hand, what happens if the record drops to 3-5 before the end of October?

CCLC writes:

in response to td:

Next week in Athens is really the Vols first road game (Ga Dome was neutral site). What's scary, I think, is three of the next four are SEC road games, and the only home stand is against the nation's #1 team! If Tennessee gets to Halloween with a 5-3 record, it will rate as a major accomplishment. On the other hand, what happens if the record drops to 3-5 before the end of October?

All you can do is take them one game at a time.

Prostar writes:

We had a hard time getting to the quarterback although we did hurry him. They came through our offensive line several times untouched to get to Bray or the RBs. While AJ Johnson had a good game he was out of position on that 75-yd run in the 2nd qtr. and again in the 3rd when he left the middle of the field open. I'm more worried now about our season than I was before this game. We let Akron stay around way too long. We didn't control the game until the 4th qtr.

volfan7 writes:

We need a good coach with a good game and not a coach with a well-known name.

volfan 7

jobrando#216494 writes:

after next week's upset you will all be back on Dooley and Sal's Big Orange train

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

in response to td:

Next week in Athens is really the Vols first road game (Ga Dome was neutral site). What's scary, I think, is three of the next four are SEC road games, and the only home stand is against the nation's #1 team! If Tennessee gets to Halloween with a 5-3 record, it will rate as a major accomplishment. On the other hand, what happens if the record drops to 3-5 before the end of October?

What happens? I'll tell you what happens: The Dooley apologist machine will be in full swing with every Doolaide drinker claiming that a 7 win season is still possible and they all knew that only 7 wins was reasonable and why aren't you a "real" fan.

It's all Kiffin's fault. It's all Fulmer's fault. It's the players' fault. It's a new staff and they need three years to get their schemes in place. Dooley needs at least three more draft classes. We really don't have any depth. We just can't win with these players, etc, etc. and on and on.

I hate saying this, but Johnny Majors taught this fanbase a false lesson: you can never anticipate success because it might take 8 years.

Wrong.

Dooley's career track record is one failure after another. He seems like a swell guy, but he cannot coach a team to success in the SEC. Hell...I know I couldn't, but you don't see me cashing a multi-million $$ paycheck.

NorthwestVol writes:

You guys still happy Wilcox is history? Sal may grow into a fine DC, but for now, just like Dooley, he's learning on the job. Personally I like them both but the SEC is a tough classroom.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho:

What happens? I'll tell you what happens: The Dooley apologist machine will be in full swing with every Doolaide drinker claiming that a 7 win season is still possible and they all knew that only 7 wins was reasonable and why aren't you a "real" fan.

It's all Kiffin's fault. It's all Fulmer's fault. It's the players' fault. It's a new staff and they need three years to get their schemes in place. Dooley needs at least three more draft classes. We really don't have any depth. We just can't win with these players, etc, etc. and on and on.

I hate saying this, but Johnny Majors taught this fanbase a false lesson: you can never anticipate success because it might take 8 years.

Wrong.

Dooley's career track record is one failure after another. He seems like a swell guy, but he cannot coach a team to success in the SEC. Hell...I know I couldn't, but you don't see me cashing a multi-million $$ paycheck.

Yep. I knew it. All these trolls are really Dooley! ADMIT IT! you're coach Dooley! YOU WANT to be fired! You want the BIG payout. You rascal you.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to NorthwestVol:

You guys still happy Wilcox is history? Sal may grow into a fine DC, but for now, just like Dooley, he's learning on the job. Personally I like them both but the SEC is a tough classroom.

Not bad for a "trollish" sorta statement.hehe
Dooley's been here going on 3. We'll see with recruiting this winter and spring where the recruiting is headed. Depth is still the major problem it seems.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

after next week's upset you will all be back on Dooley and Sal's Big Orange train

WHO LEFT? Who got off the "train"? And what upset? Who you think's gonna get upset?
If you think UT's gonna beat Georgia then I for one am on "the BigORANGE train" for sure. Why not?

I never met a troll before? Are you really as ugly as folks say? Do you eat UT fans? I hope not.

smokeygrowl writes:

in response to Prostar:

We had a hard time getting to the quarterback although we did hurry him. They came through our offensive line several times untouched to get to Bray or the RBs. While AJ Johnson had a good game he was out of position on that 75-yd run in the 2nd qtr. and again in the 3rd when he left the middle of the field open. I'm more worried now about our season than I was before this game. We let Akron stay around way too long. We didn't control the game until the 4th qtr.

I think we are having a hard time scheming because we cant play man to ma with our corners. i like to see a defense built with lock down corners which vols just dont have. Its up to coaches to make up for that in other ways. I dont think they are smart enough to do that.

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