D Passes Marshall Exam

Other than time of possession, which was as much a product of UT's big plays as Marshall's ball control offense, the Vols Stop Troops set the tone for this victory and held a well designed Thundering Herd offense to only seven points and 236 yards.

Here's the top to bottom defensive ratings for the Tennessee-Marshall game. Grades of 90-100 are regarded as championship quality. Grades of 80-89 equate to top 25 worthy, grades of 70-79 are winning marks. Grades of 60-69 are passing but problematical and won't be good enough to defeat a quality opponent. Any grade below 60 is considered failing. Special teams are included among defensive ratings but they aren't factored into the defense's total score. An opponent degree of difficulty (between 1 and 10) has been added to the formula.


SECONDARY (92) The secondary was responsible for both of Marshall's turnovers and provided excellent run support throughout the game. Jonathan Hefney tied for team high honors with 12 tackles and added an INT. Demetrice Morley showed substantial improvement in his second career start. After failing to record a tackle against Florida, Morley contributed nine stops and a fumble recovery vs. the Thundering Herd. Jonathan Wade (four solo tackles) blanketed receivers from his corner and Antwan Stewart had three tackles from the other side. Stewart doesn't look completely comfortable playing on the corner in place of the injured Inky Johnson, and is being tested by opponents. Tennessee allowed only 8-of-14 passing for 110 net yards. The Vols need to develop some depth in the secondary as any further loss of personnel could be devastating.

LINEBACKERS (85) Jerod Mayo, who is quickly becoming an all-conference caliber player, led all tacklers with 10 solo stops and a pair of assists. Marvin Mitchell was a force in the middle with a dozen tackles (four solo). Ryan Karl (six solo stops) is a steady performer with a knack for rising to the occasion. Freshmen Rico McCoy and Dorain Davis saw action and exhibited exciting potential. Davis came to UT with a reputation for knocking heads and may have turned in the hit of the day in the fourth quarter. A very solid group that seems to be playing more as a unit.

DEFENSIVE LINE (84) The defensive front probably gave up a little too much against the dive, but it also pressured the quarterback, contributing all three of UT's sacks for 10 yards in losses. Turk McBride has stepped up as the anchor in the absence of Justin Harrell and had six stops (five solo) from his tackle post. Xavier Mitchell (five stops) has emerged as a force at defensive end, while Antonio Reynolds (four assists) and Robert Ayers (two solo) have had their moments. The most encouraging development was the play of young tackles Demonte Bolden and Dan Williams who both recorded tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Their development is vital to UT's chances down the line this season. Matt McGolthlin is a blue collar battler, but his game is limited.

OVERALL (87) Tennessee surrendered some yardage and allowed Marshall to control the ball for too much of the third quarter, but they also got more of their reserves involved in the defensive line and maintained a high level of intensity coming off a difficult loss to Florida. Marshall had the type of personnel and offense that presented UT problems, still the Vols made good adjustments, stiffened around the goal and forced their first fumble of the season along with an interception.

SPECIAL TEAMS (91) Tennessee enjoyed a real advantage in the kicking game with Britton Colquitt putting on a clinic, punting three times for a 56-yard average, and all his efforts bottling Marshall up inside its own 20. James Wilhoit missed a 42-yard field goal, but redeemed himself with a 49-yarder off the wet surface. Coverage was generally good while return opportunities were few. Ben Greene made a big hit to terminate one of Marshall's kick returns.

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