Alumni Analysis: Vanderbilt week

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In ‘Alumni Analysis,' fans will be able to hear from former gridiron Vols on various issues concerning the Orange and White. Read as we bring you in-depth analysis from former Vols Terry Fair, Jabari Davis and Eric Westmoreland.

Terry Fair

Q: Explain the challenges that a running quarterback like Jordan Rodgers poses to a defensive back.

A: "I think when you are going against a dual-threat quarterback like Jordan Rodgers, especially as a young defensive back you have to be very disciplined in your approach. Especially if you have man-to-man coverage down field and you see that quarterback run a lot of guys will come off their man thinking he is going to run the ball and that's when he can hurt you by popping up and throwing it to your man."

"You have to be very disciplined in your approach, do your job and allow everyone else to do theirs because the moment you don't do your job and think you are going to tackle Jordan Rodgers for some time of loss then your man is wide open and your get beat for six."

Q: As a player who had a lot of success against Vanderbilt during your time at Tennessee how disappointing is it to see Vanderbilt opening as a favorite in Neyland Stadium?

A: "It is huge, but at the same time I understand where we are as a program right now. I was one of those guys who was fortunate enough to beat Vanderbilt every year, but it was never easy. We never beat Vanderbilt by more than seven points except for one year in 1994. Vanderbilt always played us tough."

"This is more than just a football game this year for them. They believe and James Franklin has them believing that they can come to Neyland Stadium and beat us. When you look at it though there is still that mental hurdle that Vanderbilt has to get over with Tennessee. They haven't had much success. They got a win in 2005 here and that was one for the ages. It doesn't happen often."

"They have some experience players over there who have been through the battles and have come out on the losing end. Those things certainly play a huge factor when you are going against different teams — that mental hurdle. When bad plays happen, maybe some of those guys, even though they have belief in their coach they still start to question themselves as a team. Then they say ‘oh no, here we go again, same ole, same ole.' That has a huge effect on a team when the mental factor is involved."

Eric Westmoreland

Q: From a linebacker standpoint talk about the challenges that a running quarterback like Jordan Rodgers poses for a defense?

A: "It is all going to defend what type of coverage that we play and the different looks that we are going to be able to give him. He is a pretty young quarterback and hasn't started a lot of games. I think it is going to benefit the linebacker group that he hasn't played a lot of games so they can disguise the coverages, disguise when they are blitzing and when they are dropping into coverage. They just have to make tackles and if they do that things will go well for them.

Q: For a young team like Tennessee, how important is it that they make a bowl game to get extra work in during bowl practices?

A: "I think it is very important because it gives them time to grow. When you get those bowl practice you have another two and a half to three weeks when you are fine-tuning things, getting young guys ready to play and seeing what they can do. Then maybe some of those guys that didn't get a lot of playing time during the season can help you out in the bowl game. You are always getting starters for next year with a lot of guys that haven't played a lot."

Q: As a player who had a lot of success against Vanderbilt during your time at Tennessee how disappointing is it to see Vanderbilt opening as a favorite in Neyland Stadium?

A: "It is disappointing in a sense, but at the end of the day every game is important. If you look at every game with the importance as you would look at a Florida, Georgia or an LSU it shouldn't matter what opponent that you are playing. Every game is a different game, but every game is an important game. We always went into the Vanderbilt game as it was just another stepping stone for us getting to where we wanted to be in that season."

Jabari Davis

Q: What can the wildcat offense bring to the table for Tennessee given their struggles in the running game?

A: "It changes things up in a lot of ways. It makes you more versatile because you can scan the field a lot better from that distance being behind the line like you are in the shotgun. You can pretty much see the defenses and see what they are doing a little better. You can definitely throw some people off because from that formation you never know what that back is going to do. He can run, pass and I saw they did a lot of things with Devrin Young going in motion and things like that."

"I think Marlin Lane is doing a good job running the wildcat and we just have to keep it up and see what works. I think during the game he was looking pretty good. He had a big run and I think if they just stick with what is working then they will put some more points on the board this week."

Q: Given that Rajion Neal was given some snaps in the wildcat formation during practice this week, what do you feel he could bring to the table in that role?

A: "Rajion Neal has been looking really good these last couple of weeks. I think that was his breakout game. I think he needs to touch the ball at least seven to ten times a game. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, you can line him out wide and he can run some good routes. He has the speed that we need to hit the hole and run. I know Marlin Lane was banged up, but when we get holes like that you have to take it to the house. Rajion Neal has that speed that we are looking for to take it all the way to then end zone."

Q: As a player who had a lot of success against Vanderbilt during your time at Tennessee how disappointing is it to see Vanderbilt opening as a favorite in Neyland Stadium?

A: "It is crazy just looking at Tennessee being an underdog this week against Vanderbilt. We dominated that game for some many years, but it is a different era. Vanderbilt has been doing a great job coach and recruiting. Players are starting to believe in that program. They are even doing a great job in recruiting, even with the kids that are in state. I remember back in the day when Tennessee offered you and you were from Tennessee there was no doubt about it you were going to play for Tennessee, but Vanderbilt is doing a good job of getting the homegrown talent."

No. 13 Terry Fair: Defensive back and return specialist 1994-1997. Fair started as a freshman for the Vols and never looked back. He recorded 163 tackles, 11 interceptions and returned two punts for touchdowns. Fair was selected in the first round of the NFL by the Detroit Lions and spent eight years in the league.

No. 34 Jabari Davis: Running back 2001-2004. Davis rushed for 1,228 yards for the Orange and White and got to the checkerboard 22 times for the Vols. Davis spent one season in the NFL with the Chicago Bears.

No. 42 Eric Westmoreland: Linebacker 1997-2000. Westmoreland was a pivotal player in Tennessee's '98 National Championship game. He finished second in tackles that season with 79. His career stats totaled 253 tackles and 34 tackles for loss. The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Westmoreland in the third round of the NFL Draft.

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