Vols must contain Newton

Steve Spurrier has never had a mobile quarterback quite like Syvelle Newton. That presents a unique problem Saturday night for a Tennessee defensive staff that has faced Spurrier quite a bit over the past 15 years – with not-so-good results.

Syvelle Newton has completed 63.2 percent of his passes to rank second in the SEC in passing efficiency. He's also run for 324 yards. He's lost 94, giving him a net of 230.

The Gamecock's have converted more than 50 percent on third down since Newton and his wheels took over the quarterback role five games ago.

``Syvelle's done a great job,'' said Tennessee defensive line coach Dan Brooks. ``He's mobile and he throws the ball a whole bunch better (than he used to). If a guy runs that well, you'd sure hope he couldn't throw it that good, too, because you have to defend both.''

Therein lies the problem. On the pass rush, you don't want to flush Newton out of the pocket, like you would an immobile quarterback. You want to contain him in the pocket.

``We've got to hem him up,'' Brooks said. ``We've got to do a great job with our pass rush lanes and keep him in front of us because he'll scramble and make as many plays with his feet as his arm.''

Does a scrambler like Newton slow down the pass rush?

``You can't do that,'' Brooks said. ``You either rush or you don't. I never liked to hear coaches holler, `Rush the passer, watch the draw.' We can only serve one master. We'll try to rush the passer and get after him the best we can and take our shots. We've got to do a good job tackling the guy because he's so athletic.''

Tennessee starting defensive ends Xavier Mitchell and Antonio Reynolds made big plays in the fourth quarter of the Alabama game, in part because they were rested. Backups Robert Ayers (20-plus snaps) and Wes Brown (16 snaps) helped keep fresh legs in the game late.

``No doubt about it,'' said defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell, when asked if rest was a key to the ends fourth quarter play against the Crimson Tide. ``We knew that game would probably go into the fourth quarter. All of them do. We tried to work hard at mixing those other two guys into the game. so when it came down to the last two series, we could have something left.''

Having fresh legs late against Newton is even more important.

He's going to make you run all over,'' Caldwell said. ``We haven't been subbing a lot in the middle of series this year, but I think we'll probably have to do that Saturday if they get any long drives.

``That's the worst nightmare for a defensive lineman, when he's rushing the passer and that joker is running around. You like that guys that have to set in the pocket.''


Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge said his mechanics got out of whack against Alabama, leading to three first-half interceptions.

Offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe said maintaining fundamentals is an ongoing process, much like it is for a golfer.

``Look at Jack Nicklaus in his hey day or Tiger Woods today,'' Cutcliffe said. ``Those guys go back to swing coaches and work on mechanics. That's why they go on the range after (a round).''

Cutcliffe said it's easy for a quarterback to waffle on his footwork.

``You think about it,'' Cutcliffe said. ``You've got those big people coming at you, you're moving, you're adjusting in the pocket, you're focused downfield, you're making decisions and mindlessly you've got to have great mechanics.

``Habits sometimes are easy to maintain, where your feet are balanced and you're aligned. But sometimes you can get out of kilter and I felt like we'd gotten a little bit out of kilter (against Alabama).

``Last week we had some issues during practice and it showed up during the ballgame. I knew it during the game. We were coaching it and trying to correct it.''

Cutcliffe said he's been working this week on Ainge's footwork and mechanics.


While Fulmer has had trouble beating Spurrier, he's got Alabama's number.

Fulmer is 11-3 (counting a tie as a forfeit win) against the Crimson Tide, the best record of any UT coach. Gen. Neyland was 12-5-2 against Alabama. Bowden Wyatt was 5-2-1. Doug Dickey was 3-2-1.

Bill Battle had the worst record at 1-6 followed by Johnny Majors at 4-12. CUTCLIFFE TAKES BLAME FOR PLAY CALLING

Cutcliffe said he didn't call a good game against Alabama, one reason the Vols scored just 16 points and managed just one touchdown in 13 drives.

Entering the game, Tennessee's first-team offense had scored a touchdown on 24 of 52 possessions.

UT also converted just six of 15 third downs; the Vols have made 59.5 percent entering the game.

``If I had to do one thing in critiquing what happened, I didn't call a great game,'' Cutcliffe said. ``I'd like to have some calls back. The worse thing I did was I didn't have the team executing and prepared, and that's my responsibility.''

Cutcliffe said he probably should have run the ball more, even though Alabama had eight in the box most of the game. UT running backs had 18 carries for 55 yards.

Yet, Cutcliffe said if UT had executed well, it could have completed five or six more passes and racked up more than the 302 passing yards it gained.

``There were some misdirection things we might have used, some either-or in the run game we might have used more,'' Cutcliffe said. ``We file it away and have it for the future and learn from it.''

Either-or in the run game usually means run left or right, depending on the defensive alignment.

Cutcliffe said he's concerned about the run game but he's not in panic mode.

``I think we can run the football, given the right situation,'' Cutcliffe said. ``We're just trying to use the weapons we've had available to us. Part of the run game is the screen. Part of the run is a layoff (pass). As long as we can get good players the ball, I'm really not that concerned how we do it.

``But I am concerned that we didn't score but 16 points. Look at our possessions - by far the worst game we've had from a productivity standpoint. I go back to what I see as execution.

``I'm anticipating going back to executing like we're capable of doing.''

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