Vol 'D' does the job

Two numbers were bothersome to Tennessee despite a one-sided 59-7 homecoming victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.

One number was 234. That's how many yards the Ragin' Cajuns racked up against Tennessee's defense.

The other number: 364. That's how many total yards the Cajuns mustered.

``We're kind of like a bend-but-don't-break defense,'' linebacker Ryan Karl said. ``We're giving up a lot of yards, but only seven points.''

The seven points are encouraging for a defense on record-pace to give up more points and yards than any in Tennessee history.

But don't mention that bend-but-don't-break stuff. Not around defensive coordinator John Chavis.

Chavis wasn't amused when Karl's comment was repeated.

``We've tried to keep big plays off us,'' Chavis said. ``We've done a good job of that. But I'm not going to use that term.

``That's not me. That's not who I am. We're getting closer to being the kind of defense we want to be at Tennessee. We don't like giving up yardage but against a team like (the Cajuns), you're going to give up some yards … unless you fit everything perfect.

``We are still growing to be an attacking defense. That's our M.O. And that's who we're going to be. Are we there? No. It's obvious we're not, but we're working in that direction and we're closer than we've been in a while.''

Tennessee allowed yet another opposing running back to rush for 100 yards. Tyrell Fenroy had 113 on just 14 carries. And UT gave up seven runs of at least 10 yards.

That doesn't bode well for the next opponent – Arkansas. The Hogs have the best run game in the SEC by far, averaging over 300 yards per game. Darren McFadden and Felix Jones each average more than 100 yards per game, and Jones averages about 9 yards per carry.

Although the Vols scored an easy win, nothing about the performance made you think UT could stop Arkansas' run game.

But maybe that's not the most important thing.

What's important is how the Vols play against Arkansas. What's important is winning to continue to control your own destiny.

The way Tennessee has played, it might take 40 points to beat the Hogs.

But there were bright spots. The Vols scored a defensive touchdown when cornerback DeAngelo Willingham broke up a bubble screen pass and end Antonio Reynolds rambled 70 yards with the interception for a time-consuming score.

At least, that's the way Chavis saw it.

``That play probably burned more time than any other play,'' Chavis said. ``It was almost like a full drive. It took about two minutes off the clock.

``He looked like a big tight end going downfield early, but after he got down there, it changed a little bit.''

Reynolds had a different version of the play that gave UT a 24-0 cushion late in the first half. He dodged quarterback Michael Desormeaux at the Cajuns' 37, then sauntered into the end zone behind a convoy of teammates.

``I saw the quarterback coming from the left side and I felt he'd try to take my legs out,'' Reynolds said. ``So I put a little move on. It guess it comes natural.''

It wasn't the only play UT could celebrate. Nevin McKenzie blocked a punt and Antonio Wardlow raced 20 yards for the score – his second career touchdown off a blocked punt. The other came against Georgia last year.

Meanwhile, Tennessee's offense was efficient, thought not spectacular. The Vols scored a touchdown on six of their eight possessions, generating 466 yards. They scored a touchdown on each of their four second-half possessions.

The run-game was effective with Arian Foster going for 100 yards to become the 12th UT back to crack the 2,000-yard mark. True freshman Lennon Creer displayed his talents, ripping off 109 yards on just seven runs as UT ground out 273 yards.

Last week, UT coach Phillip Fulmer wasn't sure if an injured Creer would finish the season. Then, he exploded.

``He's different,'' said offensive line coach Greg Adkins, who felt good about his unit despite the loss of left tackle Eric Young. ``He's fast. He's very powerful, very powerful. He's hard for the first guy to bring down. He's very impressive.''

Offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, minus one offensive weapon with the dismissal of LaMarcus Coker, wasn't sure about Creer's status at the start of the week. But he liked what he saw in practice.

``He looked like Lennon again,'' Cutcliffe said. ``I was anxious to see what he would look like and, geez, when he touched the ball, it was pretty obvious he was special.''

So Tennessee felt good about itself, routing an inferior opponent.

But now it's back to reality. It's back to the SEC. It's back to facing an outstanding running team that racked up more than 600 yards – 450-plus on the ground - against South Carolina and leads the SEC with more than 40 points per game.

Chavis knows he's got a tough challenge ahead with Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Kentucky next on the docket.

``I'm not worried about three games,'' Chavis said. ``I'm worried about one game and getting ready for Arkansas.''

And he knows better than anyone, it won't be anything like facing the Cajuns.


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