Scouting Tennessee Defense and Special Teams

Just like the Tennessee offense, the Vols defense was pretty solid early on against Oregon but was unable to sustain it. Tennessee held Oregon to just 56 yards in the first 15 minutes, but allowed 391 yards the rest of the way.

They appeared to wear down in the second half although it must be pointed out that two of the five Oregon touchdowns after halftime were scored with the defense on the sidelines.

Up front Tennessee has good players, but does not have a lot of size or depth. So far the best player is NT Montori Hughes who was really active against the Ducks. Hughes leads the teams with 2.5 tackles for loss. He's a big, strong guy at 6-4, 305, making him the only defensive lineman on the two-deep that weighs over 265 pounds. Gerald Williams and Chris Walker are good, experienced players but they aren't game changers.

At LB they have a really good player in MLB Nick Reveiz who seems like he's been there forever. He made 10 tackles against Oregon and is around the ball most of the time. OLB LaMarcus Thompson and Herman Lathers are pretty good, but they're not making enough plays. I wouldn't be surprised to see Austin Johnson (9 tkl, 1 int) play more.

The secondary is better at safety than corner. SS Prentice Waggner is Tennessee's leading tackler and had an Int for a TD opening day. FS Janzen Jackson is gifted and another good tackler. He is struggling with the responsibilities of the position somewhat. I believe Florida can have success attacking their corners Art Evans, Eric Gordon and Marsalis Teague. Gator fans will remember Teague who committed to UF two years ago before changing his pledge to join the boys on Rocky Top.

The Vols defense is solid 1-11 but they have to get off the field to avoid wearing down like they did against Oregon.


Vols Special Teams --- Place kicker Daniel Lincoln is a senior from Ocala who they Gators have seen plenty of times. He is good in close (34-42 from 20-39 yards) but not so good long range (11-25 40-plus yards). Punter Chad Cunningham is okay (41.2) but has had three blocked in his career and Oregon returned one 80 yards for a TD. That punt return is the only punt or kick return of any length they have allowed. So far their returns have been completely ineffective.

Derek Dooley and his staff have a lot of work ahead of them. The Vols do not have the personnel of the top tier SEC teams and may not for a few more years. They have to maximize their greatest strength to control the ball, control the clock and shorten games. If they can do that, they will have a chance to win some games in the fourth quarter. If they can't, it'll be a long year in Knoxville.

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