Jay Graham says Tennessee's Rajion Neal 'more consistent' since opener

Tennessee running back Rajion Neal was criticized after the opening game for bouncing outside rather than shooting through holes up the middle. Running backs coach Jay Graham said he's seen noticeable improvement since then.

UT's running game will be a key for the Vols (3-1, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.) at Georgia (4-0, 2-0).

"He's done a lot better with it," Graham said Wednesday. "He's been more consistent. He's starting to understand running through the edge of defenders, taking a half-man, all those things that are important to breaking tackles. It's not always easy in a game situation."

Neal has 356 rushing yards this season, including 151 last Saturday against Akron.

***

First-year Tennessee offensive line coach Sam Pittman watched last year's Tennessee-Georgia game on film and found a clear culprit for the loss.

The lack of any Tennessee running game gave Georgia the green light to blitz with impunity.

"We don't want to let those guys pin their ears back and call every blitz they've got in the playbook without the threat of us hitting them for a big run," Pittman said. "We're going to go into the game trying to be balanced. If we can do that, our chances are going to be a lot better."

***

Sophomore cornerback Justin Coleman will hold on to the starting job he earned a week ago. Cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley said he was pleased with his first game back in the lineup.

"Justin's doing really well. He's a competitor. We knew that from Day 1," Ansley said. "He's started to master his craft."

***

Senior Prentiss Waggner split time at both corner and safety in 2011 before returning to corner, his natural position, this season.

Last Saturday, however, he shifted over to safety in certain dime situations, helping the Vols fill gaps in secondary depth.

"He's done it before," Ansley said. "He's proven he can play multiple positions in the SEC, so you don't worry as much about putting him back there."

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

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Comments » 38

jobrando#216494 writes:

Lets get real...VOLS 56 GA 42

TheVolSnake writes:

Neal has become better each game and is hitting the holes better. He needs to be outstanding this game. I also think we will see a rotation this game to keep the running backs fresh. We will also see more rotations on the OLine to keep them fresh.

We have to convert on 3 downs and get our D off the field and keep them rested.

Vols win in a great game.

Go Vols

BigOrangeFever76 (Inactive) writes:

in response to TheVolSnake:

Neal has become better each game and is hitting the holes better. He needs to be outstanding this game. I also think we will see a rotation this game to keep the running backs fresh. We will also see more rotations on the OLine to keep them fresh.

We have to convert on 3 downs and get our D off the field and keep them rested.

Vols win in a great game.

Go Vols

If Ssssssssssssssnake says the Vols win, that's good enough for me!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

I thought RN looked great in UT's last game against Akron..Then again we're talking bout Akron..Just don't turn the ball over and make UGA earn it on offense..Do those things and UT will be in it in the 4th Qtr..GBO!!

GatorHater1998 writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Lets get real...VOLS 56 GA 42

There's no way tenn scores 56... if we did win, it would be more like 24-21

BruisedOrange writes:

This article just confirms the quality of commentary in front of our TV.

Against Akron, my wife & I were talking about how, even when we couldn't read the jersey, we could tell if it was Neal or Lane.

Neal, we agreed, ran like a guy from another position LEARNING how to become a running back.

Go get 'em, son. You're learning from one of the best. When it finally all clicks, your speed will suddenly become a factor again.

RaineyVol writes:

Vols don't do well against running QBs.. and Murray can run.. thats a fact. Go Vols

laraccoon writes:

Rainey is right , running QBs have killed us . If the orange can put a few licks on Muarry and affect his game anything is possible .

GreerVol22 writes:

Rain and coon are right. Florida killed us on the edge as every corner and LB were clearly out of position and over committed to run support up the middle. Sunseri better have a different plan or it will end up the same.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Neal is better than people are giving him credit for IMO. Think where he would be progress wise if he didn't get moved to WR last year. Still don't understand that but it's water under the bridge. I think the Vols show up this weekend. Might win might lose, but I think they come to play.

allvol8 writes:

Rip'em up tear'em up give 'em h@## Tennessee!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Neal knowing he's #1 RB seems to be taking his role more seriously and is running with more power..Iam all for "shooting the middle" but not doing so just cause thats what the coach expects and Ive noticed Neal running over guard occasionally when he saw that it would go nowhere..In the SEC holes between the tackles are either small or closed in a second..Our coaches haven't put much value or emphasis in leading runs with a FB out of the "I".Nothing breaks a big run better than a good kick out block by the FB and Ben a senior is not exactly stellar at making holes over the tackle..Majors definitely knew the value of a big FB..Roland Poles and Greg Amsler were the best FB's to ever suit up for the Vols..When Amsler caught a pass or got in the open field it was guaranteed whoever met him first would end up road kill and never went down without 2 or 3 tacklers clinging for dear life..Looking down the roster we don't really have anyone to step up after Ben is gone.

UTVOL2001 writes:

I like what I hear from Coach Jay. He is teaching them small concepts that make a huge difference. I think we will see much improvement with our running game over time, now that he is here.

BigOrangeFever76 (Inactive) writes:

in response to laraccoon:

Rainey is right , running QBs have killed us . If the orange can put a few licks on Muarry and affect his game anything is possible .

Coon, you are right. Murray needs to be on the receiving end of a couple early "slobber-knockers" to get his attention. Vols have to play hard for the full 60 minutes, regardless of what the scoreboard says, and we just MIGHT come out of Athens with the Big W.

After all, Washington knocked of #8 Stanford last night!!!

It's GREAT to be a Tennessee Vol!

PUL4VOLS writes:

I need to see Neal punish tacklers and get through those quick-closing up holes to be convinced. This is just the game for him to break out. If Lane is not the first one in after Neal, I will have lots of questions. It is simply a matter of we run, we compete with GA, we fail to run, we watch as GA dismantles our defense. I am hoping for the first scenario. And guess what? We are only a day away! GO BIG ORANGE!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Neal is better than people are giving him credit for IMO. Think where he would be progress wise if he didn't get moved to WR last year. Still don't understand that but it's water under the bridge. I think the Vols show up this weekend. Might win might lose, but I think they come to play.

We didn't have Jay Graham last year and if you recall Poole was less effective and unable to run between the tackles..Neal IMO is perfect for the West Coast offense running and catching quick outs and safety valve 3rd read passes..GBO!!

ARANGEVOL writes:

HUMMM! The loser will be Tenn. Other losers Vandy, Townson St, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Mizzo. GO VOLS

BigOrangeFever76 (Inactive) writes:

in response to ARANGEVOL:

HUMMM! The loser will be Tenn. Other losers Vandy, Townson St, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Mizzo. GO VOLS

Why are you humming? Is your mouth full of something? As far a losers go, you would know first hand about that. Loser. Or is it Poser?

brokendownoldvol writes:

How do you teach big slow linemen who stand sraight up every play and try to push on someone how to run block this far into their careers?

fronix5000 writes:

in response to BigOrangeFever76:

Why are you humming? Is your mouth full of something? As far a losers go, you would know first hand about that. Loser. Or is it Poser?

"is your mouth full of something..." - LOL on that one.

fronix5000 writes:

Can we please run a slip screen to Cp? Please?

TheVolSnake writes:

in response to fronix5000:

Can we please run a slip screen to Cp? Please?

I think we will see a lot of CP this game. I also would like to see a lot of screens, quick outs and slant passes during the first part of the game to neutralize or slow down the pass rush. then latter in the game if open go for the longer passes.

I expect the Vols to put out all the stops for this game and pull off the major upset.

Go Vols

laraccoon writes:

in response to BigOrangeFever76:

Why are you humming? Is your mouth full of something? As far a losers go, you would know first hand about that. Loser. Or is it Poser?

hes' been using"Brokeback mouthwash"

BigOrangeDan writes:

Vols 28 puppy dogs 12. GBO

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Real prediction. Not the silly stuff I've posted.

It MAY end up being a defensive match. But only if the Vols step it up. Bray might though have to lead us in outscoring georgia. I think we can. By "outscoring" I mean a shootin' match. We'll beat them if we open some holes and our runners find some of their own.

Golly soooooo many ifs.

UT 30 Ga. 24 I think we out defense Ga. And nobody will stop our offense AGAIN.(ok that might possibly be a bit silly to say out loud but I believe)

Go Volunteers.

VolGrad writes:

in response to ARANGEVOL:

HUMMM! The loser will be Tenn. Other losers Vandy, Townson St, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Mizzo. GO VOLS

It's game week. Be a fan or zip it!

Make 'em gang tackle you, Raijon. Let's break a couple of big 'uns.

Go Vols!!! Beat the Dawgs!!!!!

VolGrad writes:

in response to fronix5000:

Can we please run a slip screen to Cp? Please?

I think they've probably been working on a couple of things with CP and Devrin that they haven't shown us yet..., not to mention King and AJ. Whatever it takes, I just want to see Raijon able to break some runs into the open field.

Go Vols! Beat the Dawgs!!!

navarrebeachvol writes:

**UGA Ticket** My son had to bail out on me at the last minute. Have one ticket in Tennessee upperdeck section for what I paid:$70.00. no trolls or haters-I have to sit next to you. will be tailgating within 10 minutes of stadium from 11:00 to game time to meet up. govolsbj@aol.com

Supersayin1 writes:

Just heard that Derrik Henry chose Bama over UT!! UGGGG!!!!!! So sick of not getting our hands on a True SEC RB!! We seriously needed this guy! I'm tired of us recruiting these small 175-200 lb whimpy RB's! That may work in the WAC or some other conference below the SEC, but not where Defense rules the day!

Screw it recruit a LB and convert him to a RB!!
My Wish list : 2 RB's 220-235lbs
5'9 to 6ft tall, Quick,Fast,Powerful,Mean,fearless, and wants to punish anyone that tries to come near them!

So sick of losing explosive RB's to Bama and other SEC schools, that we will have to try and stop at some point down the road!! Not one of our RB's strike fear in anyone because they are nothing like true SEC RB's!

Someone please help me to feel better about our RB's!!! NO TROLLS Please!!!! GBO!!!

rtrchatt writes:

in response to Supersayin1:

Just heard that Derrik Henry chose Bama over UT!! UGGGG!!!!!! So sick of not getting our hands on a True SEC RB!! We seriously needed this guy! I'm tired of us recruiting these small 175-200 lb whimpy RB's! That may work in the WAC or some other conference below the SEC, but not where Defense rules the day!

Screw it recruit a LB and convert him to a RB!!
My Wish list : 2 RB's 220-235lbs
5'9 to 6ft tall, Quick,Fast,Powerful,Mean,fearless, and wants to punish anyone that tries to come near them!

So sick of losing explosive RB's to Bama and other SEC schools, that we will have to try and stop at some point down the road!! Not one of our RB's strike fear in anyone because they are nothing like true SEC RB's!

Someone please help me to feel better about our RB's!!! NO TROLLS Please!!!! GBO!!!

Correction, DH chose a championship program over an average proram. Elite talent wants to compete and play with similiar talent....

Supersayin1 writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

Correction, DH chose a championship program over an average proram. Elite talent wants to compete and play with similiar talent....

1. You obviously have no clue of the History Tennessee has that only Alabama is ahead of us in every catagory, which despite the past few years says alot! Our History speaks louder than our present, which still keeps UT as a ELITE School!

2. The Elite talent he will face will be the other teams in the SEC! Going against his own team in practice would not count as going against elite talent since his team won't be out to take his head off!

Think before you speak!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Supersayin1:

Just heard that Derrik Henry chose Bama over UT!! UGGGG!!!!!! So sick of not getting our hands on a True SEC RB!! We seriously needed this guy! I'm tired of us recruiting these small 175-200 lb whimpy RB's! That may work in the WAC or some other conference below the SEC, but not where Defense rules the day!

Screw it recruit a LB and convert him to a RB!!
My Wish list : 2 RB's 220-235lbs
5'9 to 6ft tall, Quick,Fast,Powerful,Mean,fearless, and wants to punish anyone that tries to come near them!

So sick of losing explosive RB's to Bama and other SEC schools, that we will have to try and stop at some point down the road!! Not one of our RB's strike fear in anyone because they are nothing like true SEC RB's!

Someone please help me to feel better about our RB's!!! NO TROLLS Please!!!! GBO!!!

The sad part is Bammer will turn him into a LB, while UT would have made a feature back.

claiborneh writes:

Top running back recruit Derrick Henry picks Bama over TN. Same story

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to claiborneh:

Top running back recruit Derrick Henry picks Bama over TN. Same story

You can't blame a top pick for wantin to "be a contender"! Sitting on the bench the first year will be good for him.hehe

Sir_Spanky writes:

Rajon. Go the 1, the 2, the 3, or the 4. Pick one... Let CP worry about the other stuff.

Sir_Spanky writes:

in response to claiborneh:

Top running back recruit Derrick Henry picks Bama over TN. Same story

Give him a break, OK? The young man likes to eat at Waffle Houses. There's more of 'em there than there are trailers!

GerryOP writes:

Derrick Green, 5* #1 running back out of Richmond believed to be favoring UT over Auburn and Michigan. Big question facing Green? Whether Dooley will be here next year. Sooooo, idiot naysaying negaVols, keep on bashing Dooley and still try to claim that you are UT fans. You are your own worst enemy.

Supersayin1 writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Derrick Green, 5* #1 running back out of Richmond believed to be favoring UT over Auburn and Michigan. Big question facing Green? Whether Dooley will be here next year. Sooooo, idiot naysaying negaVols, keep on bashing Dooley and still try to claim that you are UT fans. You are your own worst enemy.

What are the numbers on him? Is he anywhere near as big,strong,fast,and mean as Henry?

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