Monthly Archives: September 2013

Vols offense lagging, but special teams offering a boost

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QB Justin Worley warms up before the game. #govolsxtra

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — We’ll publish our weekly By the Numbers feature for News Sentinel subscribers later today and it should offer some really interesting data on the Florida game.

For now let’s take a big-picture look at Tennessee’s performance through four games this year.

I like checking out the weekly UPS/STATS Team Performance Index. You can view the details on the webpage, but it essentially tries to combine offense, defense, special teams and “miscues” and weigh that against the strength of the team’s schedule.

Tennessee's national rankings in parentheses.

Tennessee’s national rankings in parentheses.

As might be expected, the Vols fared well in special teams and “miscues,” but poorly against offense and defense. The rankings will become more meaningful as the season goes on. For now, they’re merely interesting.  And they confirm that South Alabama is no pushover.

Tennessee’s strength on special teams has more to do with the kicking and coverage teams than it does with any big returns.

On kickoffs, Tennessee is forcing opponents to start from the 24 or 25-yard line on kickoffs with an average net of just over 40.

Take away a blocked punt and the Vols have a very respectable 38.5 net average.

The return game has been more sluggish, particularly after an injury to Devrin Young.

On kickoffs, the Vols average 24.9 yards per return (boosted by a 58-yard return by Young in the opener) and an average starting starting field position at the 28 (based on kickoffs alone and not considering penalties).

On punts, the Vols have only attempted to return five times in 16 attempts. Opponents are netting 39.7 yards per punt.

Finally, it’s always worth monitoring tempo. For obvious reasons, the Vols haven’t gone as fast as coach Butch Jones and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian would like.

For comparison purposes, UT had 2.7 plays and 2.17 live-ball plays per minute in 2012. (Live-ball plays are

[gdoc link=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AgBQnqCTaaxzdG56RHVTOHdTTms3NENPbER3akx4U2c&output=html&widget=true” height=”225″]

Tennessee football practice: Vols prepare for No. 19 Florida

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Nathan Peterman throws to Jason Croom. #govolsxtra

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — One day after Butch Jones reopened the race for Tennessee’s starting quarterback job, he also decided to keep any secrets from leaking out about who the choice might be.

For the first time in recent memory, media were not allowed to video or photograph Tennessee’s practice on Tuesday. Jones allowed reporters to watch a small window of practice, but it offered no clue about the Vols’ quarterback race.

Unlike last week, when freshman Josh Dobbs worked with the scout team, all four quarterbacks were working out with the main unit.

Dobbs and fellow true freshman Riley Ferguson are pushing for playing time against starter Justin Worley and redshirt freshman backup Nathan Peterman.

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Tennessee football: Vols play Oregon’s fight song at practice (video)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — If you’re a college football fan, you’re probably a connoisseur of fight songs, and I must say that I really love “Mighty Oregon.”

I might not love it by the end of the week, however, if Tennessee coach Butch Jones keeps playing it over and over again in practice.

“The storm is coming,” Jones warned players in Tuesday’s session. View the video at its highest HD setting for best results. Unfortunately they did much of their work on the far field on Tuesday, so today’s video is shot from a distance.

While you’re here, check out our GVX Spotlight below. I’m flying solo this week, as colleague Brendan Quinn is on assignment in Oregon.

Tennessee football: A look at Oregon’s mind-boggling offensive numbers

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OC Mike Bajakian chases Justin Worley.

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Oregon goes at a pace unlike any team Tennessee has faced since, well, Oregon in 2010.

That was the conclusion drawn from a look at the Ducks’ numbers through two games of 2013.

Tennessee’s defense has experience against a fast-paced offense, of course, by playing its own offense every day in practice. The Vols had the third-fastest offense in the SEC in 2012, but have slowed the pace against two weak opponents in 2013. Tennessee is unlikely to go much faster against Oregon. Giving the defense some rest will be a priority.

Oregon’s offense averages 3.4 plays and 32.3 yards per minute, which is impressive in itself. But that speed puts pressure on the Ducks’ defense. Opponents average nearly 40 minutes per game in time of possession.

Even so, the Ducks surrender only 3.7 yards per play (8.13 yards per minute). The Vols, by comparison, have allowed 4.91 yards per play through two games.

Check out the tempo numbers below.

[gdoc link=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AgBQnqCTaaxzdG56RHVTOHdTTms3NENPbER3akx4U2c&output=html&widget=true” height=”300″]

Tennessee football: Highlights, interviews from Western Kentucky week (videos)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee is 24 hours away from its first big test of the 2013 season.

A well-played victory would give the Vols a 2-0 start and at least a modicum of confidence heading into a difficult game at Oregon.

A loss would make Tennessee’s path to six wins — and bowl eligibility — that much harder. And much of the early enthusiasm that has surrounded the start of a new football era would evaporate.

Get caught up with everything that happened this week by checking out our collection of videos. As always, watch in your highest HD setting for best results.




Tennessee football practice: Goodbye Daniel McCullers, Hello Dan McCullers

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Butch Jones says we should be grilling out today.

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The pre-practice stretch period is a time when Butch Jones usually imparts serious messages. So there was a look of mild concern among players when he announced, “I want you to know, I cut somebody today.”

He was met by silence.

“Do you know who I cut?”

More silence.

“Look around and see who’s missing.”

Finally, players caught on. No. 98 Daniel McCullers was gone.

In his place, was No. 63.

“I want everyone to welcome No. 63, Dan McCullers to the team,” Jones said.

Everyone started clapping. The media put down their rosters and stopped  hunting for a missing player.

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Tennessee football practice: Curt Maggitt back in orange at Tuesday’s practice (video)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — By now you’ve read that Tennessee linebacker Curt Maggitt has returned to the practice fields and could play in Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky.

But do you have visual proof?

Now you do.

Check out the video above. That’s Maggitt, No. 56, wearing orange and enjoying the hip-hop of B.o.B. and T.I. (As always, watch the video in your highest available HD setting for best results).

The practice video was cut short by Butch Jones on Tuesday, who wants to keep some stuff under wraps for this weekend after not showing much in the opener.

The Vols practice on Wednesday at 4:20 p.m. We’ll have more news and notes after practice is over.

Tennessee football: Tight end a big part of the Vols offense

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Tight end Woody Quinn.

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — When Butch Jones arrived at Tennessee last December, he started recruiting tight ends almost immediately. In the Class of 2014, he hasn’t stopped.

Tennessee was very plain on offense in the opener against Austin Peay, almost never venturing from their basic set. Even so, it’s clear that the tight end will be a big part of the Vols’ offensive game plan in 2013.

The Vols had 73 snaps on Saturday, and there was little variation:

3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB: 69 (48 run, 20 pass, 1 sack)

4 WR, 1 RB: 1 (1 pass)

2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB: 1 (1 run)

3 WR, 2 RB: 2 (2 run)

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Tennessee’s freshman class: Who played and who didn’t

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Marquez North waiting on the ball.

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Eleven true freshmen played in Tennessee’s season-opening victory against Austin Peay.

The debuts ranged from Marquez North, who started and appears to be one of the Vols’ top options at receiver, to linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who played only on special teams.

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Tennessee football practice: Vols emphasize ‘great efforts’ in Western Kentucky prep

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Butch Jones says we should be grilling out today.

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Butch Jones was in comedian mode on Tuesday afternoon, and UT linebacker A.J. Johnson was the subject of his barbs.

You see, Western Kentucky has an A.J., too. Linebacker Andrew Jackson is apparently an NFL prospect, although I had never heard of him until Monday. (Jackson needs to hire Jones as his agent, because Jones has been talking him up nonstop).

Anyway, here are some of the one-liners from practice today.

“A.J., you get to play on the same field as an NFL linebacker!”

“This A.J. (Jackson) is a first-round draft pick; you’re a practice-squad guy.”

(To equipment man) “Can you get me a white football for this Saturday? My son wants to get Andrew Jackson’s autograph.”

* The theme of practice on Tuesday was “63.” That’s six seconds per play with three great efforts. Or something along those lines. Look for plenty of “63”  references on our practice video.

* Linebacker Curt Maggitt is no longer wearing a green non-contact jersey. That’s happened before, but with game week approaching, it might be more meaningful.

* Neither junior Marcus Jackson nor true freshman Dylan Wiesman played on Saturday, although both players went through practice normally on Tuesday and remained members of the second-team unit. That doesn’t mean a redshirt is a certainty for either player, but it does mean that it remains on the table as an option. And coaches probably decided they didn’t want to remove that option for a blowout against Austin Peay.

* Unless my eyes deceived me, Michael F. Williams and Michael L. Williams were the only two players in the injured area. Receiver Ryan Jenkins may be getting better, but he was wearing a scout team jersey on Tuesday.