September 23, 2012
The Day After
The kicking game - You move the temperature meter simply by having your first game where you didn't miss an extra point. But it goes beyond that; the Vol kickers played well Saturday night. Placekicker Derrick Brodus remains perfect in his Vol career in field goals. Brodus went 4-for-4 Saturday night and is now 6-for-6 for his career. Matt Darr averaged 40.5 yards a punt and Michael Palardy had 5 touchbacks.
Justin Hunter - The junior from Virginia got stepped on in a touchdown celebration by his own teammate. But that was the only downside to his night as Hunter had eight catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. Hunter now has 30 catches on the year for 410 yards and four touchdowns.
Byron Moore - With 10 tackles, Moore has 30 on the year and is just one behind A.J. Johnson for the team lead in stops. Moore also leads the team with 3 interceptions on the year including a huge one to start the second half against Akron. Not bad for a guy most thought would be a backup to Brent Brewer this season.
Big play defense - With Akron's 70-yard touchdown gallop Saturday night, the Vol defense has now given up three touchdowns of 70 yards or more in the last 6 quarters of play. For the season, the Vols have now given up 1,564 yards of offense in 4 games (391 yards a game).
Sacks/pass rush - Without question Akron's goal was to throw it quick, thereby making sacks hard to come by. Tennessee had one on the night, but could not generate any kind of pressure with just their defensive line. Tennessee's outside linebackers must do a better job of getting off blocks off the edge when they are rushing the passer. And maybe it's time to see if Daniel McCullers can push the pocket. McCullers didn't play one snap of defense Saturday night.
Ball security- For the second straight week, the Vols turned it over twice. Akron turned the two miscues into 10 points. Tennessee was fortunate there wasn't another one on the Mychal Rivera fumble that was reviewed and overturned. Tennessee must clean up ball security issues heading into the month of October.
THUMBS UP/THUMBS DOWN
Halftime adjustments - Akron was taking it to the Vols for the first two quarters, but in the second half when Tennessee went to a more simplified defensive plan (same thing happened in the season opener) and they won a lot of matchups. The defense in the second half only gave up 3 points and just 142 yards of offense. Moving forward, the Vols must continue to address how much scheme is enough and how much is too much to confuse players.
Rajion Neal - Even though Neal had a his fumble, you did win the game and the Georgia native had a nice night. Neal finished the game with 151 yards rushing. Tennessee has 690 yards rushing in just four games which is an average of 172.50
Tyler Bray - For all the criticism Bray took for his meltdown in the second half against the Gators, the junior was not affected by his early game struggles which included a pick-6 to give Akron a touchdown lead. Bray was extremely effective under pressure in the second half going 10 of 14 for 155 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Red zone offense - Tennessee went 8 for 8 in the red zone on Saturday, but only 4 of the 8 were touchdowns. Tennessee's goal is to convert at least 75% of their red zone trips into the endzone. The scariest part in the red zone was the fact that you couldn't just line up and run for a score. Tennessee had 9 carries inside the Akron 15 yards line for a total of minus-3 yards. That won't win in SEC play.
Too complicated - While the Vols get a thumbs-up for some halftime adjustments against an inferior team that was giving them fits with their scheme, it was another outing were the adjustment was to simplify things because the Vols couldn't effectively play all that was installed in the gameplan on defense. The coaching staff must get a better handle on what they can effectively do and make the adjustments quicker if need be.
No new faces - After all the talk all week about getting the young defensive backs on the field, Tennessee didn't play any of the three freshmen in the secondary a meaningful snap Saturday night. So as the Vols go on the road and back into SEC play, they don't have any more of a feel for how those guys can handle the pressures of a game. Meanwhile they again watched those who were on the field get runaway from by a running back.
Pressure on Tyler Bray - Dooley acknowledged that Akron did a lot of things they hadn't seen on tape and they clearly disrupted the offensive line. On the stat see, Akron was only credited with 2 quarterback hurries, but they knocked Bray down way too much. Florida got to Bray in the second half last week and the Zips were in his face a good bit all night.
With the score tied at 23, on 3rd and goal, Tennessee safety Byron Moore read the quarterback's eyes and stepped in front of a pass from quarterback Davis Williams. The play kept the game tied at 23 and was huge for early second half momentum.
This week's winner is kicker Derrick Brodus. His field goals particularly in the first half were huge. The walk-on is perfect in his Vol career in field goal attempts and tied a school record for points scored by a placekicker with 17.
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