September 26, 2012

Vols stay grounded for UGA rush defense

Each and every week running the football is a topic of discussion for the Vols. With eight regular season games left, the Vols only need 392 yards to surpass last season's rushing total, but getting yards this week on the ground is expected to be difficult.

A year ago, the Vol tailbacks had 22 yards on 16 carries against Georgia's 3-4 defense.

"They are big," running backs coach Jay Graham said of the Bulldogs' defensive front. "They can run, but they are big and they close down holes. They close down the spaces in between the tackles. They have the nose guard and the defensive tackles that are 345-plus who can get off the ball and push guys back. The key is when you see a small gap you gotta go. You have to hit it right away. There's no time for indecisiveness."

Graham's leading rusher, Rajion Neal, has improved in that area the last two weeks amassing 238 yards on 45 carries.

"He's been more consistent," Graham offered. "He's starting to understand running through the edge of defenders. Taking on a half of man. All of those things that are important to breaking tackles. It's not always easy when the ball is snapped but he's starting to do it more consistently.

"We are doing a better job of speed to the line of scrimmage. You have to have patience in your footwork but you have to read with speed. That's what we have been talking about. See the hole and go. You have to hit the line so you can fall forward and get the four yard gains because there's always going to be someone at the line of scrimmage trying to hit you."

But for all the talk about Georgia stopping the run, the Bulldogs are giving up 135.5 yards a game on the ground. In the season opener, Buffalo rushed for 199 yards. Missouri rushed for 102 yards and Vanderbilt rushed for 106 a week ago. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said regardless of the stats, running the ball is going to be anything but easy.

"I think they are a very good rush defense," Chaney said. "Very good. I don't know the stat part of it. I know they are heavy across the board. They have playmakers at both levels. There's no reason why they shouldn't be a terrific rush defense and I believe they are most of the time."


After eight catches for 75 yards and a touchdown against Florida, junior Cordarrelle Patterson only had two catches for 20 yards a week ago against Akron. Chaney said that Patterson is continuing to grow as a wideout and that it's his job to get him the ball more.

"He knows as a wide receiver he has to continue to develop his route running skills," Chaney said. "I have to continue to find ways to get him involved in the ball game more. I have to call the routes and make sure he gets the ball more."


For the first time this season, the no-huddle Vol offense will be dealing with crowd noise. In the Georgia Dome, the Vols played in front of a crowd that was anything but hostile. It will be much different this week between the hedges. Chaney is optimistic that things will run smoothly in the difficult environment.

"The communication is signal based as you guys know. I would like to think there shouldn't be a heck of a lot of difference as we move into the ball game," Chaney said. "Obviously when you have a bunch of people yelling at you and being mean to you it affects you some times."

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