Tag Archives: special teams

Changes coming on special teams for Vols? Butch Jones says unwise to ‘panic’

Butch Jones meets with the media on Nov. 18, 2013.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Don’t expect to see any major personnel changes on the kickoff and punt coverage teams against Vanderbilt this week.

The Vols allowed two touchdowns — one punt return, one kickoff return — in a loss to Auburn on Nov. 9.

Butch Jones said he wants to get the best 11 players on the field in special teams, but heaping more responsibilities on starters who are already playing every snap is difficult.

Beyond that, Tennessee’s coverage units have generally been pretty good this year. And to shake up the units for the sake of change might also be unwise.

“The thing you don’t want to do is have individuals who have taken those repetitions and trained for those positions all year long and you panic and you make wholesale changes,” Jones said. “Now you go out there and they haven’t been through the nuances of playing that position and live game-speed repetitions. So it’s a balancing act. On the flip side of it, you’re always trying to find the best 11 to put on the field. It’s an 11-man mission.”

Mark Elder: ‘Lost leverage’ led to special teams woes (video)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee special teams coordinator Mark Elder said Saturday’s loss to Auburn was “not a good day” for his unit, which allowed two touchdowns on long returns.

Elder said small mistakes can quickly balloon into big ones on special teams.

“When you have a missed tackle, it’s critical, because it’s a lane of about five yards,” Elder said. “If you miss a tackle in that lane, shoot, there’s not someone for another handful of yards. Special teams really emphasizes if you have a mistake, it gets blown up even bigger because you’re in big space like that.”

Check out post-practice video below for some clips of the brief media viewing session on Wednesday afternoon.

Vols offense lagging, but special teams offering a boost

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

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