November 5, 2012
Vols need to turn over old leaf on D
Tennessee's defense hasn't had much to hang its hat on this season. The records the Vols' defense have broken and notoriety they've gained is the kind a defense doesn't want on the way to being the 112th-ranked defense in the country.
But, one thing they were able to do early in the season that masked some of the defensive deficiencies was force turnovers. During the Vols' first five games Tennessee was able to force 12 turnovers.
In the Vols' past four games the Vols have only forced two turnovers, one against South Carolina and once against Alabama.
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley said earlier in the year the Vols were able to win one-on-one match-ups and pressure the quarterback more, not so much recently with the Vols having to put more men in coverage and less coming after the quarterback.
"It's a good question because we need to get those turnovers. You look at some of those turnovers we had, I think a lot of it was we had some where we were in one-on-one and we had good cover position and we went up and made the play and the other guy didn't," Dooley said. "We had some where we played some zone and the quarterback got confused and we go a little pressure on him and he served it up. We haven't been getting much pressure on the quarterback and that's caused a lot of problems as the down gets stretched out and we haven't been winning some of those one-on-one match ups with the teams we've been playing."
The turnovers were a critical reason the Vols were able to get off to a 3-2 start, despite giving up an average of 428 yards per game. Beginning to force them again could help Tennessee finish out the month 4-0, an important goal for the team.
"It's extremely critical because the more we get turnovers the better chance we have at winning a game because everyone expects the defense to get a turnover, an interception, force a fumble that will help the team win the game," cornerback Justin Coleman said.
Senior linebacker Herman Lathers said the defense hasn't been as aggressive the past few weeks because of giving up more chunk plays, but doing the little things better would help.
"We're not as aggressive as we've been in the previous weeks, but we've just got to cut it down so guys can go out there and play fast and play their coverage better and play our technique better," Lathers offered. "That's part of the cause. But, we call plays and you still let guys loose it doesn't matter what you call. You've just got to play your technique."
Dooley said one of the biggest ways to help generate more turnovers is not having as many people lost on the back end.
"Our biggest thing is we've got to get more eyes to the football and less eyes on our guys, if that makes sense. So, when the ball does come out there are more hats around the ball so we don't have these gutted plays," Dooley said.
At one point one of the top teams in the country in turnovers forced, the Vols now sit at 72 in the nation and know for this to be a 'November to Remember' for all the right reasons, they'd do well to force more turnovers.
"It definitely helps in getting more turnovers, but we've got to focus in and get back to getting more of those to help us get off the field and get the ball to our offense." said safety Byron Moore, who leads the Vols with four interceptions but hasn't recorded one since September. "We definitely need to get back to getting more turnovers."
THIRD DOWN WOES CONTINUE
It was more than just letting Troy convert 10 of 19 third downs Saturday, it was the variety in which Troy converted the third downs. The Trojans were able to convert five of 10 third downs of seven yards or longer.
"Just putting a little too much pressure, whether it's the front, whether it's the corners and then some of those third downs were just really good calls, good coverage and we may have a breakdown technique-wise and I've been saying this since day-one, when you have the numbers we have there's not one thing. It's a little bit of everything," Dooley said to the contributing factors to a lackluster third down defense.
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