UT offense proves it can play catch-up

Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray (8) looks for an open receiver during the second half of their 51-44 loss to Georgia on Saturday, Sep. 29, 2012 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray (8) looks for an open receiver during the second half of their 51-44 loss to Georgia on Saturday, Sep. 29, 2012 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

ATHENS, Ga. — Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson teamed up for one of their most impressive plays of the season Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium. But there was nothing conventional about it.

Instead of a pass and catch, it was a block and run. And Bray threw the block.

Bray took out a Georgia defender on an end-around, which Patterson turned into a 46-yard touchdown play by cutting from one side of the field to the other through the Georgia secondary.

The play reduced Georgia's lead to six points. But as was the case all afternoon in the Bulldogs' 51-44 victory, they managed to one-up UT's offense.

"We kept hanging in there, but we couldn't get over the hump and get a stop when we needed it," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "We had the ball in the last possession and had an opportunity to score, but we didn't get it done.

"We haven't been in those situations a lot. We are going to learn from it and next time execute better."

Each of UT's last three possessions ended in turnovers, two on interceptions, and a third on a fumble by Bray.

One of those interceptions — both of which were made by senior cornerback Sanders Commings — was a desperation heave in the final seconds. The first one was into tight sideline coverage as Bray sensed cornerback Damian Swann pressuring him from the backside.

"I saw the ball well and was able to get there in time," said Commings, who stepped in front of Patterson to make the interception.

The turnovers were virtually all that stood between UT and the Georgia end zone for much of the game. The Vols were relentless offensively after falling behind 27-10 early in the second quarter.

But their offense wasn't business as usual.

Although Patterson flashed his talent on the 46-yard touchdown run, he wasn't much of a factor in the passing game. He caught only two passes for 31 yards and dropped what might have been a touchdown pass in the second quarter.

"It felt like I had let the team down, so I just tried to bounce back and make some big plays to make up for that mistake," he said.

Georgia also held UT's leading receiver, Justin Hunter, to three catches for 46 yards.

But Bray proved he's capable of taking alternate routes. He completed passes to nine different receivers, including Zach Rogers, who had six catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.

"We showed a lot of heart," Rogers said. "And I think that's something we can take forward into the rest of the season.

"We've shown we can hang in there with a top-five team and go toe-to-toe with the best of them. We learned a lot about ourselves."

The Vols also were reminded that they're at their best when they have a running game to complement their passing. Even when they fell behind by 17 points in the first half and by 14 in the second, they didn't abandon the run as they did in the fourth quarter of a 37-20 loss to Florida two weeks ago.

Rajion Neal rushed for 104 yards on 23 carries, which included a 20-yard run.

"We have fighters," Neal said. "We have guys who are not afraid to go get it.

"I feel like we are going to keep growing from this, and one day things will go our way because we have guys who continue to fight."

John Adams is a senior columnist. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 22

TheVolMan writes:

Excellent

TheVolMan writes:

Adams was right that Vols would hang with Dogs. If you are a tard who doesn't like JA, you are stupid. Very simple.

fearthehound writes:

We'll get there. We'll eke into a bowl game this year, and we'll be a better team next year. Sunseri's defense will come of age next year.

florida-volfan writes:

Yea but what about the defense.....how many untouched 70 yard runs do I have to see before we get this fixed. I see why Saban didnt make much of a fight to keep Sunseri. I also think we need to get a kicker who can kick a freakin extra point, or maybe we need to let A.J. Johnson do that too.

Classof72 writes:

Offense plays catchup. Defense is catsup. Heinz 51 Catsup.

MemphisOnAir writes:

Were gonna get better very soon. As my grandma always says "You have to take the bitter along with the sweet". We are going in the right direction and I'm excited about our team. Tough loss but the ball will bounce our way soon. GoVols!!!

BillsBrother writes:

The offense may have proven that it knows how to catch up, but the team needs to prove that it knows how to lead.

TrouserCough writes:

3 picks and a fumble. Watch out NFL!

td writes:

Here's the undeniable math: make an extra point; make a short field goal; (+4 Tennessee points) and DON'T EXECUTE THAT STUPID POOCH KICK BEFORE THE HALF which gave UGA the ball at their 35 which likely added the yardage to MAKE A 50 YARD FIELD GOAL!!! BY A FRESHMAN KICKER!!!!! (-3 UGA points. It's 48-48, and we go to OT.

ambrown64 writes:

It is great to see a vertical running game. We ran it down their throat - it looked good and its the first time I've seen that in awhile. There's been too much cutesy running out of the gun. Get under center and hammer them! I am a Tennessee fan, so I like a team that can line up in the "I" and pound you.

Cordarelle taketh away and Cordarelle giveth. Watch his highlight on ESPN - he's a bad man. Missed Justin this week. Looking for him to bust out in one of these big games coming up. Rivera is an animal.

Defensively, we have some ball players, but our speed presents a risk against elite teams. When matched up against a stronger, faster opponent, aggressiveness should be dialed back because it risks too many big plays. All strategy says that, against a stronger opponent, turn it into a war of attrition.

Sal's "D" looks disheveled. i am not sure what it is. Is it wreckless over-pursuit or not knowing what they're doing? They lack a sense of spacing on the field. They don't really get beat one-on-one that much, its just those situations where they are supposed to exchange coverage or support, and someone is in the wrong place. They also give up the edges alot.

I do like this team, warts and all. They are showing a lot of heart.

signalcorps writes:

Thanks John that's kind of you to say truth told as of today Bray's no more than a 5th round pick if that,, to compete in the SEC you have to play better.....

Orangepuddinskin writes:

Even though Bray made mistakes, at least he didn't give up in the UGA game. Our run game looked great, even though it was nowhere near Georgia's. We showed massive improvement in the Georgia game. It caused room for excitement for the remainder of the year. Prior to the Georgia game, I was thinking 7-5. I am now thinking 9-3 as a possibility. We exposed that fake UGA defense. I didn't hear the name Jarvis Jones or Rambo all night. Our defense is a train wreck as well though.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

The 2 Vol drives to open the 2nd half were the crucial point where the game was lost!!!! Chaney's play calling to open the half were less than stellar..First mistake was opening with Lane instead of Neal..The offensive line had a chance to carry the momentum from the first half and failed miserably..Overall I give Chaney a C+ for the game but every game has it's defining moments where small mistakes led to big moments for GA..Had we opened the half with some long sustained drives instead of going down 2 td's and spending the entire 2nd half playing from behind; We may have won the game

BruisedOrange writes:

Prediction: Any conversation involving "Bray" and "NFL" will begin to include the word "mechanics."

There's a reason ex-NFL QB Gary Danielson refers to Bray as a "slinger"... and it has nothing to do with broadcasting or a thesaurus.

That Bray CAN make a throw from any (arm) angle is good. That he slings it from any angle when he doesn't HAVE to is throwing away accuracy for no good reason! And accuracy is everything in the post-Spurrier world of SEC offensive football.

I'm not hanging this loss on him. I don't think Bray's yet confident his receivers will be where they're supposed to be every play. It's just an issue that's becoming more apparent.

Having spent a day at the Manning Passing Academy, the mechanics Bray is currently exhibiting would have been challenged and critiqued after every throw--even by Archie and Cooper. Disciplined mechanics requires a QB coach in your ear after every throw at practice, not just after practice in the film room.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to florida-volfan:

Yea but what about the defense.....how many untouched 70 yard runs do I have to see before we get this fixed. I see why Saban didnt make much of a fight to keep Sunseri. I also think we need to get a kicker who can kick a freakin extra point, or maybe we need to let A.J. Johnson do that too.

Agreed!! Iam no defensive guru but there must be a way to correct that...Give GA's OC and the Oline a lot of credit for good execution and getting away with more holding calls than you can count but shouldn't there be a safety back there somewhere to help..Also our DB's give up to much cushion to receivers...Inside the 10, Moore gave Bennett 10 yards..As soon as they lined up I knew it was going to be an easy TD..I think the DB's are taught to do that on the slot receiver but as a player on the field how can you be so stupid to not take it upon yourself inside the 10 and not force the receiver off his route?

VolzsFan writes:

in response to ambrown64:

It is great to see a vertical running game. We ran it down their throat - it looked good and its the first time I've seen that in awhile. There's been too much cutesy running out of the gun. Get under center and hammer them! I am a Tennessee fan, so I like a team that can line up in the "I" and pound you.

Cordarelle taketh away and Cordarelle giveth. Watch his highlight on ESPN - he's a bad man. Missed Justin this week. Looking for him to bust out in one of these big games coming up. Rivera is an animal.

Defensively, we have some ball players, but our speed presents a risk against elite teams. When matched up against a stronger, faster opponent, aggressiveness should be dialed back because it risks too many big plays. All strategy says that, against a stronger opponent, turn it into a war of attrition.

Sal's "D" looks disheveled. i am not sure what it is. Is it wreckless over-pursuit or not knowing what they're doing? They lack a sense of spacing on the field. They don't really get beat one-on-one that much, its just those situations where they are supposed to exchange coverage or support, and someone is in the wrong place. They also give up the edges alot.

I do like this team, warts and all. They are showing a lot of heart.

Defenses have to give up something to stop a team. Florida played a 2 deep and left their front outnumbered because they knew they could beat UT and keep the running game under control. They stopped the long pass, etc.
Georgia tried to take away the deep ball which they basically did, took away the slants which they basically did. When you do that you have to give up something and that was they where outnumbered up the middle.
To say UT has some vertical running game tells us that you have no idea what you are looking at. The SEC teams have figured out what to do to stop UT. They would rather let these below avg. RBs get some yards because they are not home run threats then let them throw deep.

Still 6-6 at best. Enjoy the change!!!

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

in response to TheVolMan:

Adams was right that Vols would hang with Dogs. If you are a tard who doesn't like JA, you are stupid. Very simple.

Mark me down as being stupid!!! One positive article out of a hundred doesn't impress me very much

utbaby#215635 writes:

in response to fearthehound:

We'll get there. We'll eke into a bowl game this year, and we'll be a better team next year. Sunseri's defense will come of age next year.

I sure hope you're right. I hope their problems are coming from adjusting to the new 3-4 defense and more time will fix the problem with big plays. If this happens though, we should see much improvement by the end of the year. The games against Miss St. and Mizzou should be the one's that tell us if they can play against less than top teams.

Pipe_Down_Otis writes:

Well.....Neal ran better, hit the whole full speed for once. Bray throws side armed sometimes, and those balls are flatter, easier to tip, which happened. Defense had holes in the first game all over it, we just were able to outscore NC State. So, nothing new there. The coaches told a recruit I know 2 years ago that they had one SEC-level DB. Apparently that issue hasn't been fixed. Georgia's RB's showed how quickly the right recruit can turn a program around...We're better this year, but 7-8 wins is about it for now.

ambrown64 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Defenses have to give up something to stop a team. Florida played a 2 deep and left their front outnumbered because they knew they could beat UT and keep the running game under control. They stopped the long pass, etc.
Georgia tried to take away the deep ball which they basically did, took away the slants which they basically did. When you do that you have to give up something and that was they where outnumbered up the middle.
To say UT has some vertical running game tells us that you have no idea what you are looking at. The SEC teams have figured out what to do to stop UT. They would rather let these below avg. RBs get some yards because they are not home run threats then let them throw deep.

Still 6-6 at best. Enjoy the change!!!

I have no idea what I'm looking at? Okay - whatever you say. Maybe I understand incremental improvement and the utter and total downhill dive that can happen if this team loses its spirit -- which is one thing the DO have intact. We have failed in past to even recognize what is given in terms of the defense, so recognizing a weakness and attacking it is a positive development. Is it enough to keep the coach? Is it enough to build on? I don't know that, probably not because of the failure to instill fundamentals and discipline is in year 3. I do know that we have a better mentality on this team than in past years and we should protect it. The trend is positive, although slow and still lacking. Even then, when something is moving in a positive direction, have a solution before you break it. Idiots who have never had to own or build anything complex trash things, without knowing how to provide a better solution, and therefore end up diminishing any progress or positives. This is the horse we have to ride for the year, so shut up and encourage them and the vetting will come after the season is over. I am not a "Doolaid Drinker." I am a practical man.

arkansasvol1975 writes:

in response to fearthehound:

We'll get there. We'll eke into a bowl game this year, and we'll be a better team next year. Sunseri's defense will come of age next year.

Yeah but we been saying that for 2 years now. Sad day in UT when we look forward to eking out 6 wins to go to a bowl. Sad.

arkyvol writes:

the vols beat the spread. big deal. they still lose. disregard the cupcakes, and my failing memory can't recall a time when something different was expected. have we really fallen so low as to consider beating the spread as an achievement?

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