Defensive notebook

Saturday night's game at Vanderbilt may not have been the best of Gerald Williams' career but it surely was the busiest.

Tennessee's senior defensive end starred as a run-stuffer with a career-high eight stops, including two tackles for loss. He starred as a pass rusher by registering a sack and a quarterback hurry. He starred on special teams by blocking a field-goal try. Oh, yeah, he also returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown ... only to have it nullified by a roughing-the-passer penalty.

"He was active," Vol head coach Derek Dooley said of Williams. "He wasn't playing his best all of the time but he kept bringing it."

In addition to all of his positive contributions, Williams had at least one negative contribution Saturday night. He incurred a 15-yard penalty in the fourth quarter for a "hand-to-the-face" infraction.

Williams' third-quarter block of a 45-yard Ryan Fowler field-goal attempt was Tennessee's first FG block since Dan Williams turned the trick at Kentucky in 2007.

Incidentally, whoever coaches Tennessee's field-goal defense deserves a raise. Vol opponents have connected on just 12 of 23 attempts this fall after making 21 of 25 last season.


Tennessee may be the worst team in football history at returning punts but the Vols seem to be without peer when it comes to returning interceptions.

In addition to Gerald Williams' nullified 70-yarder, Saturday's game saw Vol safety Janzen Jackson pick off a Vandy pass at the goal line and haul it back 43 yards. He previously had a 35-yard interception return in Game 8 at Memphis.

"It was big for us," Jackson said of Saturday's pick. "We needed a turnover or a stop right there in the red zone, because we knew that they would have another chance to get the ball if they scored. That was big for us. That time he ran an in-route and I just jumped it. The ball was a tad bit in front of the receiver so I just broke in front."

Vol cornerback Prentiss Waggner also intercepted a Vandy pass but was tackled immediately. Incredibly, it was the first of his four interceptions this season that he didn't turn into a "pick six." Waggner returned his previous interceptions 54 yards for a TD in Game 1 vs. UT Martin, nine yards for a TD in Game 4 vs. UAB and 10 yards for a TD in Game 10 vs. Ole Miss. He also had a 37-yard fumble return in Game 9 at Memphis.


Malik Jackson has put up some freaky numbers since he moved from defensive end to tackle at midseason. The 6-5, 265-pound transfer from USC recorded 2.5 tackles for loss vs. Vandy, including his team-best fifth sack of the season.

In six games at tackle Malik has recorded 28 tackles and all five of his sacks. In the five games he played at end he registered just 12 stops and zero sacks.


Sophomore linebacker Herman Lathers led all tacklers with 10. It marked the third time he has led the Vols in stops this season. He previously topped the tackle chart against Georgia (7) and South Carolina (7).

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