Depleted DBs pushing forward

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If Tennessee's defense can ever cut out all big plays by opponents, it will be well on its way to smothering offenses.

In 94.2 percent of the plays the Volunteers (4-6, 0-6 Southeastern Conference) have been on the field defensively, opponents have averaged just 3.83 yards. However, in the other 36 plays, the opposition is gaining 37.3 yards per clip.

Making teams one-dimensional could go a long way in eliminating those chunks of yardage.

In last Saturday's 42-point loss in Fayetteville, Ark., the Volunteer secondary forced just 10 incomplete passes in 27 attempts. The lone takeaway by the defense came on an interception by middle linebacker Austin Johnson.

While Tennessee likely won't face another passing offense as prolific as national-championship contending Arkansas, its secondary must show improvement and come up to help in run support this week as Vanderbilt (5-5, 2-5) comes to town.

Kickoff at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville is Saturday night at 7:02 ET (TV: ESPNU).

Commodore tailback Zac Stacy is already the school's 12th all-time leading rusher (1,700 yards) and is coming off SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors after running for 135 yards and three touchdowns in the 38-8 home win over Kentucky.

Vanderbilt has been held to under 203 rushing yards just once (Florida) in its last five games, including a 344-yard performance against Army.

Tennessee is the only team in the country with three of its top tacklers being freshmen, including safety Brian Randolph (40).

Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers threatens opposing defenses with both is right arm and his feet. Although he has completed just 51.2 percent of his passes, he still possesses big-play ability when out of the pocket and his the team's second-leading rusher (80 carries, 305 yards).

Sophomore Jordan Matthews presents matchup problems for all Commodore foes with his 6-foot-3, 202-pound frame. The Madison, Ala., native leads his team with 29 catches for 569 yards.

To see a video interview with secondary coach Terry Joseph as he goes over what happened in Arkansas as well as his thoughts on Vanderbilt, click play on the film below:

Defensive lineman Marlon Walls took the time to give his thoughts after practice at Haslam Field this week:


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