Allen Looking For Payback This Weekend

Tennessee safety Jason Allen is looking forward to a different defensive outcome this time around when the Vols take on the Auburn Tigers.

Knoxville, Tenn.—-One of the more memorable plays during Auburn's perfect regular season occurred in the first meeting between the Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium and safety Jason Allen says he's been using it as motivation ever since.

On Auburn's first drive of the game the Tigers pushed the ball right at the Vols, driving to the nine-yard line. That's when Ronnie Brown was called into action. Taking a handoff from quarterback Jason Campbell, Brown ran right and cut the ball back into the middle of the action, directly at Allen.

Waiting on Brown at the two, Allen was flattened and lost his helmet in the process as Brown scored the game's first touchdown. The play set the tone for the game as Auburn rolled over Tennessee 34-10.

This week Allen gets his chance at revenge as the Vols face the Tigers this weekend in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. The SEC's leading tackler says that he's anxious to get another shot at Brown this weekend and hopes the results are different.

"It's something I took personal," Allen says. "Ronnie Brown is one of the best running backs in the country. Players make plays and I got ran over in the end zone. That happens to some of the best players in the country, not only on this level but in the NFL also. I didn't have good pad leverage and didn't come out of my hips and he made a great play. He ran over me. That has given my motivation not to let that happen any more throughout the year.

"I'm pretty sure that opportunity will come again," Allen adds about this weekend's game. "He's not going to back down and I'm not going to back down either. He made a heck of a play. That was like my second or third game playing as a safety. I'm not using that as an excuse or anything, but I just use that as motivation and try to get better week in and week out."

Allen gets steamrolled by Ronnie Brown.

The game was one that was dominated from beginning to end by the Tigers, although they scored just three points in the second half. Ahead 31-3 at the half after punishing the Vols for 333 yards of offense, Auburn simply ran out the clock to seal the victory. Allen says that the Tennessee defense the Tigers will see this weekend is different from the one they saw two months ago.

"We were still young then in my opinion," Allen says. "That was probably my second or third game at the free safety position. I was still trying to make the adjustment after moving from corner. I feel like the guys have matured and our defense has matured in certain areas. I feel like we've come a long way since that game when we played them the first time."

Indeed, Tennessee's defense is different. Statistically it has been worse against mediocre teams at best. With the exception of games against Georgia and Alabama, the Vols have been pushed around some on the defensive side of the ball.

Currently sixth in the league in total defense, the Vols are allowing 341.5 yards per game and 22.7 points. Those numbers have gone down thanks to the last two games when Tennessee gave up 33 to Vanderbilt and 31 to Kentucky in wins. Allen says it's just a case of not concentrating on defense.

"The guys may not have gotten up for the challenge of facing Kentucky and Vanderbilt," Allen says. "Sometimes when you're playing against a team you don't think is as good as you, you don't get ready mentally or you may think they're going to lay over. If I had to pick one thing then I think that may be the case.

"Going into this weekend's game we know for a fact that we can't come out like that. We have to come out on fire from the first play."

Despite their numbers, the Vols are capable of dominating on defense. They did just that in a 19-14 win at Georgia earlier in the year. With talented players and something to prove this Saturday, Allen says don't count out his defense just yet.

"We shut down one of the best offenses in the country in Georgia," Allen says. "We're capable of playing well. We just have to go out and execute. The coaches do a heck of a job during the week of preparing us and putting us in the position to make plays. We just have to go out there and execute and play fundamental, sound football.

"It's going to be a big challenge for us here at the university and as a team," he adds. "This is why guys came here, to play for the SEC Championship and national championships. We have a wonderful opportunity and we have to take advantage of this because opportunities like this don't come often."

Kickoff for Saturday's rematch is scheduled for just after 5 p.m. CST in the Georgia Dome and can be seen nationally on CBS. Allen says that the defense has a big challenge this Saturday, but he believes a more mature Tennessee defense will play a different game this time around.

"We're looking forward to it," Allen says. "Jason Campbell is a great quarterback. He's definitely the best quarterback in the SEC this year and probably one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He has a lot of weapons around him with Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown and the receiving corps that he has there. The first game we played them we played a bunch of mental mistakes. Since then we've grown. We just have to learn from the mistakes we made in that game and not make them again this weekend."


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