Dynamic Dogs

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Georgia coach Mark Richt may have called Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray the best quarterback in the Southeastern Conference, but his quarterback has some big-league talents as well. One of his specialties — selling the play-action fake.

Aaron Murray does a spectacular job of hiding the football and getting defensive backs and linebackers to bite on the play fake to running back Isaiah Crowell and then he burns you over the top.

"Eye control and eye discipline," Vol defensive backs coach Terry Joseph stressed. "What we always talk about is looking at what you are supposed to look at and knowing your keys.

"This guy does a great job of hiding the ball. He hides it in there real good and it's always over the top. It's not a lot of stuff that is going to be short when he does the play action. They are going for the home run and (Malcolm) Mitchell a good guy to go downtown and No. 7 (Orson Charles) is a guy that we have to be aware of where he is at."

What is unique about the Bulldog offense is every running play has another passing play that looks nearly identical. That way they can suck in a cheating defense and burn them over the top.

"Everything they do on offense has a compliment," defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. "They have got certain run plays and then they have play action off those run plays. Aaron does a very good job of selling it. It is very hard to see the difference between the two."

Not only can Murray throw the ball with accuracy, but also he provides the double threat of beating the defense on the ground. The redshirt-sophomore quarterback has gained 79 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the season.

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray drops back to pass.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)

"I think he is extremely talented," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. "He has a very strong and accurate arm. He can make every throw on the field, but what really scares you the most is if that is all you worry about he can take off running. He did it last year against us and he has done it in every game."

When Murray does go to the air, one of his deadliest targets doesn't come in the form of a wide receiver, but instead in the form of 6-foot-3, 241-pound tight end Orson Charles. He is the Bulldogs' second-leading receiver with 16 catches, 256 yards receiving and four touchdowns.

"He has got good tools," Vol linebackers coach Peter Sirmon said. "He runs extremely well and they do a good job of finding ways to get him the ball. When the ball is designed to get to him the quarterback does a good job of waiting for him and getting the ball to him."

Even with an enormous frame, once Charles is galloping in the open field he can run with some of the best speedsters in the Southeastern Conference.

"He can stretch you out," Wilcox said. "When he runs with the ball he looks like a wideout. Anytime you have a tight end that can stretch the field like that it always has to come up in how you are going to cover him. Tight ends that can stretch the field vertically are always going to be a problem."

Sirmon's group, which includes two freshmen 'backers, will be faced with the unique task of blanketing Charles when Georgia tries to stretch the field vertically.

"It puts a lot of stress on the linebackers," Sirmon said. "They have to have good eyes, good discipline in what they are looking at and they do a nice job of selling the play fake. With the threat of No. 7 and No. 81 running vertically it does put a lot of stress on the defense."

Tennessee freshman linebacker A.J. Johnson even saw his first action in the Nickel defense during last week's game against the Buffalo Bulls.

"He is just continuing to develop," Sirmon said of Johnson's role in the Nickel defense. "He has good instincts, he is a very good tackler, and we just have to get him more reps in the Nickel to keep developing him."

The Vol defense will continue its preparations for the Bulldogs when Tennessee returns to the practice field Thursday morning at 9.


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