More cornerback blitzes?

Jonathan Wade spent a significant amount of Tennessee's second preseason scrimmage on the blitz, unloading on Vol quarterbacks. Before that, he spent a significant amount of time on his knees … figuratively speaking.

Jonathan Wade is a senior cornerback who loves sacking quarterbacks just as much as he loves blanketing receivers. After much pleading and cajoling, he convinced UT defensive coordinator John Chavis to turn him loose on some cornerback blitzes in Scrimmage No. 2.

"That had to do a lot with me going to Chief and begging," Wade said with a laugh. "But who's to say we won't be doing that a lot? We've always had those plays (blitzes) but we haven't called them as much as we did in that scrimmage."

After making his mark as a pass rusher in Scrimmage No. 2, Wade showed up as a pass defender in Scrimmage No. 3, jumping an "out" route to intercept a pass by Bo Hardegree, then returning the Oskie 27 yards.

"I was hoping he'd throw it," Wade recalled. "You don't get a lot of opportunities to get passes like that. I was fortunate that the ball came my way."

Wade gave credit for the interception to Tennessee's youthful front seven. The pressure those guys applied forced Hardegree to unload a pass he probably should not have thrown.

"The defensive line came through," Wade noted. "If it wasn't for the front seven, I probably wouldn't have got it."

Wade spent his first two seasons at UT as a wide receiver. So, when he intercepted Hardegree's pass, he knew where the goal line was. Unfortunately, he was stopped three yards short of it.

"I thought I was going to score," he said with a chuckle. "But I had to make somebody miss. Everybody was hustling to the ball, which is a good thing. The offensive line hustled over and made a good play."

The return of Wade and fellow 2005 secondary starters Antwan Stewart, Jonathan Hefney and Inquoris Johnson suggests Tennessee's secondary will be exceptional this fall. The concern is the front seven, which will have six new faces. Based on what he's seen in practice this preseason, though, Wade believes the defense is going to be just fine.

"We worked extremely hard the entire summer to be ready for this," he said. "Coming off a bad season, we worked really hard this summer to feel like we're ready to play."


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