UT defense one of few bright spots Saturday

Big hits, crucial stops, and taking the ball way from your opponent, these are all things that Monte Kiffin challenges his Tennessee defenders to do on every outing. There were a lot of all three categories here Saturday as Tennessee lost a heart-breaking 19-15 loss to UCLA Saturday. Go "Inside" to get our thoughts on the play of Monte Kiffin's defense.

Big hits, crucial stops, and taking the ball way from your opponent, these are all things that Monte Kiffin challenges his Tennessee defenders to do on every outing.

There were a lot of all three categories here Saturday as Tennessee lost a heart-breaking 19-15 loss to UCLA Saturday.

A lot of blame can be passed around for this, not much on the defensive side of the ball.

Willie Bohannon did what he was taught to do.

He sacked the quarterback, causing a fumble in the process. That set up the Volunteers first touchdown, the UT offense converted that turnover into points.

"We practice that drill everyday," Bohannon told reporters after the game. "Coach O makes us do that drill everyday. I was going for the quarterback and the sack; once I got there I went after the ball like he teaches us in the drill, it worked perfectly, just like he told us it would."

Tennessee's defense turned in another outstanding performance, giving up just 186 total yards, and only gave up 85 yards on the ground. In two games the Vols defensive unit is average giving up just 134.5 per game.

At times it appeared that the defense had trouble stopping the Bruins attack, but held when it was necessary in critical situations. The defense didn't allow the UCLA offense a first down on 6 of their 13 possessions.

"I think they played really well, considering they had 150 or 160 yards or so," Coach Lane Kiffin said. "Even after that, we still killed ourselves. I thought Coach [Monte] Kiffin made a number of great calls."

One thing that the defense didn't get was a lot of support from the offensive side of the ball, especially in the third quarter.

It was 2:33 remaining in the third period before the Vol's offense picked up its first First down of the quarter. This left the Vol's defensive unit on the field way to much in the third.

Despite two offensive turnovers, the defense held its ground only giving up three field goals in the second half.

After the offense failed to score from the two yard line, it was the Vols defense that gave Tennessee another shot at a late victory.

The defense held UCLA on the one yard line and stuffed their attack three times in a roll, almost picking up a turnover of its own. After review they ruled it a fumble, but gave it back to the Bruins.

"One thing that is disheartening is that they put the ball on the ground six times and we only came up with one of them," Kiffin noted. "We have to do a better job of getting the ball back."

Dennis Rogan caught the Bruins quarterback in the end zone for a safety, breathing new life, giving one last chance for Tennessee to stage the comeback.

Trailing 19-15 with a little over a minute left to play, the Vols offense failed to convert another opportunity.

UCLA's offense did a much better job converting turnovers into points, something that ended up being the difference in the ballgame.

It was obvious, despite a poor offensive showing Saturday; it was the defense that gave Tennessee a chance to be in the game until the final seconds.


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