Vols vs. option

If there were a prize for misreading keys, blowing assignments and tackling people who don't have the football, Tennessee's defenders would've won it after allowing Air Force's triple-option attack to pile up 281 rushing yards in Game 2.

So, based on that performance, Vol defenders are expecting to see a lot of triple-option from Marshall this weekend.

"If you had an option attack and you watched us play Air Force, you'd probably run the option, too," cornerback Jonathan Wade said, grinning sheepishly.

Tennessee's play vs. the option was just as embarrassing in Game 3 vs. Florida, though not as statistically troubling. Seven times No. 2 quarterback Tim Tebow took a shotgun snap. Seven times he ran option KEEPERS into the teeth of Tennessee's defense. Everyone in Neyland Stadium knew what was coming, yet those seven carries netted 30 yards and four first downs.

"It was frustrating," Wade conceded. "You know what's happening; you've just got to get it done. Many of us thought he would throw it at least once. Even when he had like six yards to get, he ran anyway."

Fortunately for Tennessee, Marshall's option bears little resemblance to the Air Force option that gave the Vols fits two weeks ago.

"EVERYONE'S option is different from what Air Force runs," Wade said, flashing another sheepish grin. "They (Thundering Herd) try to get the quarterback outside the pocket, where he's most dangerous. We have to be prepared to stop everything."

The Vols didn't seem prepared to stop anything – let along everything – in the Air Force game. Wade thinks UT defenders will play much better this weekend, though.

"I believe we learned a lot from the Air Force game," he said. "I believe we'll be able to go out and play hard. Whatever they're going to run, they're going to be well prepared to do it and we'll have to be well prepared to stop it."

Now that first-team cornerback Inquoris Johnson is out for the season, you wonder: Does that put more pressure on Wade at the other corner?

"Not so much," Wade said. "Inky was on one side and I was on the other. We do miss Inky dearly. He was a big part of our defense. We have to move on. We still have to play Marshall this weekend."

With Johnson out of action, Antwan Stewart has moved over from strong safety to fill the void at cornerback. Stewart hasn't played corner since 2003 but the Vols have confidence in him.

"Antwan was an All-SEC performer his freshman year; he knows what he's doing," Wade noted. "It's going to take him a couple of games to get really comfortable but when he gets back he's going to be very good at what he's doing."


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