Sept. 10, 2011
Tennessee Head Coach Derek Dooley
Opening statement:"It was a real good win, and that's a good football team. They had us on our heels early. Overall, our passing game was hitting on all cylinders. The quarterback (Tyler Bray) played really well throwing the ball. The two big wide-outs (Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers) backed up what they did last week. Tauren Poole ran a lot better. There was a lot of improvement in those areas.
"The disappointing part: we put two balls on the ground, and we've got to keep working with the young guys, especially in the fourth quarter. That was the only way we could screw the game up, and we tried. We made a lot of mistakes, defensively, lining up. That's half the battle. Those guys (Cincinnati) were fast-paced, they get in a lot of formations, and it stressed us. We didn't do a good job of tackling early, but the difference on defense was the three big stops. The two fourth-and-ones at midfield were giant plays to allow us to pull away, and then the goal line stop in the third quarter. Those were difference-makers.
"I'm really proud of the team. It was a good win, and we showed a lot of improvement from last week. We have to get ready for big ball next week."
On the big plays by his defense:"They were good plays, but we made a lot of mistakes. There are a lot of things Florida is going to look at on film, and they are going to be licking their chops. They were good plays when we had to have them. Those are tough plays; you snap it in the gun, and you've got the quarterback running. If you knock the line of scrimmage back, you've got a chance to make a play."
On the onside kick and the message it sent to his team:"We go into every game with stuff to try to generate some plays on special teams. We've done a pretty decent job in the last two years, and (Michael) Palardy just had great execution. We've practiced it a lot and felt like we had a chance. The first drive, the guy goes 60-something yards and runs all over us, and then we scored. I just wanted to keep a little momentum going. It worked, so it was a good way to kind of flip the momentum."
On the connection between young players like Bray, Hunter and Rogers:"I've never had three of them like this, this young. I hope they keep doing what they are doing. The tests are going to get harder, but it is good to see where they are. That's two pretty good games by a quarterback and two really good games by those two wide outs. They made a lot of plays."
On starting Darryl Vereen and Brian Randolph:"It's because they are in sub the whole game. Base personnel is when they are in two backs, and we put our big guys in. But, their whole game is spread. Maggitt (Curt) played a lot at D-end, and we put our loose guys in - the little guys. You've got to have your space guys in when they have their space guys out there. It's really matching personnel more than anything."
On the short yardage stops by the defense:"Those are (like) turnovers. People don't realize how big those are. It's not just the stops; it's field position. If they punt it, you saw what that punter can do. He put it on the one. Those are about 40-yard stops/turnovers. It generates juice. You get a little excited. Those plays are huge on fourth downs."
On the adjustments the defense made to Cincinnati's run game:"The adjustment is tackling. And we lined up wrong. It's line up right and tackle them. That was our adjustment. Line up where you are supposed to line up, not where you want to line up, and when the runner takes off, tackle him."
On Tyler Bray's maturity level and whether he is growing up with each game:"Well, he is. He looks very different than what he did last year at this time, and that's a tribute to him. This is two games, and it's a long season. We've got to get ready for next week, because these suckers are good, and they do a lot of stuff. Before we start patting ourselves on the back a little bit, let's just feel good about the win and go see if we can keep up with these guys next week."
On the importance of converting 10 of 13 third downs and sustaining drives today:"That's important every game. We hit some big third downs and even late in the game. I'll tell you, I hate those fourth quarters when you are ahead and the players are out there feeling good, and I'm pulling my hair out because you can screw the game up in the fourth quarter. But, we converted some third downs there. I've always said it helps to have good accurate throws and big targets like we have. The O-line is blocking pretty well in pass protection, and they deserve a little credit, too. They're doing a really good job giving Tyler a lot of time back there.
On whether he saw improvement in the run game:"Yes. Yes. Tauren ran well. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry and over 100 yards. That's a solid game. Marlin (Lane) put the ball on the ground, and Rajion (Neal) put the ball on the ground, so we still don't have what we need behind him. Poole had a lot more commitment in his runs. There were times when we didn't run it well, but for the most part we did. When you throw for 405 and you've got a 100-yard back..."
On his worries about the game becoming a track meet:"It felt like a track meet to me. I'll tell you, our defense settled in, and they are just going to get some yards. They had 400 yards of offense, but what you can't do against these teams is give up that 65-yard run. And we give up a double move on third and 10. That's what you've got to eliminate. Let them get a little bit and move the ball, and then come up with the big third-down stops.
"We settled in there pretty good. Of course, it helps when they're not stopping you. The other side, every time they look up, it's another touchdown. That helps. It starts breaking the morale a little bit. It was just as important that we kept scoring."
Tennessee sophomore safety Brent Brewer
On making defensive adjustments after the first two Cincinnati drives:"The first two series we had a bunch of misalignments. We got back the sidelines, talked to the coaches, and got lined-up right. We had to work fast to get lined-up. They kept moving the ball from boundary to boundary so we had to go fast."
Tennessee PK Michael Palardy
On the onside kick:"We practiced all last year and it carried over into this year. It is kind of our specialty kick. I had to trust that it was going to happen and I was going to make the play. The guys were going to block and I was going to have the chance to run on the ball."
On the momentum the onside kick gave the team:"We scored after that recovery. Justin [Hunter] scored. That was a huge momentum changer and we needed it."
Tennessee LE Jacques Smith
On adjusting to Cincinnati's defense:"In the first quarter of the game, you have to see what you've got and what they are throwing at you. Then in the second quarter, that's when you can start making some adjustments from the first quarter and start playing a little bit of your own defense. Adjusting to them took us a little while. We need to get better at coming out in the first half. In the second half, we definitely came out and attacked them instead of the vice versa."
On the 4th and 1/goal line stops:"It meant a lot and I think it says a lot about our defensive line. Other people say that we are small and I don't think that were a small line. Obviously you saw their [Cincinnati] stature. They were pretty big guys and we came after them and got some stops."
On facing a pro-style offense next week:"You can throw whatever at us. I'm just ready to play football. We are 2-0 and it hasn't been like this in 5 years."
Tennessee FB Ben Bartholomew
On getting to play with the first team:"The coaches told me that it was going to be a competition and we are going to put you in with the ones to see what you can do. I performed this week and I got the start."
On helping the running game this week:"Definitely the running back room took a lot of the work. We are working as hard as we can to get better, but we made a lot of mistakes today that we want to capitalize on. We are going to keep watching film and keep improving the running game."
On Tyler Bray have a lot of time in the pocket:"It is very important that we get our assignments on blitzes and Cincinnati brought a lot of blitzes. The O-line did a very good job of picking up on a lot of that."
Tennessee DL Malik Jackson
On short yardage:"It just took a little while to get adjusted. They're a good team, so we just took what the coaches saw, and kept pushing."
On momentum with 4th and 1 stops:"It's a great feeling. We go in there every week and talk about big stops and getting the small stuff done. When we go out there and stop them like that, it's big. And I think we got points off of them, too, so it's definitely big when you stop a team like that."
On playing to strengths:"We saw the keys and we just played it really well. We listened to the coach, and came out and made the play.
Tennessee DB Marsalis Teague
On Cincinnati getting more one dimensional:"They did. That gives credit to our defensive line, pushing them back, and we really did a good job out there."
On seeing more traditional teams in the coming weeks and less spread defense:"I think we just need to go with the game plan. They might want to go spreads, and we're comfortable, I think, with our group and doing that."
Tennessee QB Tyler Bray
On expecting holes in the defense:"They came out with the same defense that Montana showed, so we had a week, already, on that defense. We just went out and executed."
On thinking about records:"Yeah, I do. At the end of last week, guys were telling me, but I don't really care about that. It's more about the victory."
Tennessee WR Da' Rick Rogers
On the play of the offense:"It was not easy but it was routine. We play at a fast tempo and hot-paced offense in practice. We play like we play in practice and it turns over into the game. We work hard in practice and make plays so when it comes game time, it is second hand. They are same plays you always run."
On the aggressiveness of the offense:"We love it. That is how our offense is - down-hill running game and we are going to stretch the field deep throwing the ball."
On his first touchdown catch:"That was supposed to be Justin's (Hunter) touchdown but I slipped open in the back door on Bray found me."
On sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray:"Bray is playing at a high-level right now. His confidence is at an all-time high. You can really see it in practice. He is playing with great poise and playing like a quarterback right now. He is really running things."
Tennessee WR Justin Hunter
On the blocked field goal:"I had a feeling I was going to block it. It (the kick) was so far away, and I was tight at the line. I nipped it with my fingers. I saw the ball spinning so I knew I got it. We made an emphasis in the week to practice that - the jump. So, to get one made the coaches happy."
Cincinnati Head Coach Butch Jones
"You look at the first half and two fourth-and-shorts that we didn't come up with anything. Our defense did a great job of answering the call on one and they missed the field goal. But the tipped field goal, we gave them a possession on the on-side kick, we have a long way to go and we have to get better in a hurry. The biggest thing is rushing the passer, they threw the ball 40-something times and we had zero sacks. We have to get better in pass coverage, I think everyone saw that. We'll go back to working on that."
On any positives he took from the game:
"We didn't turn the football over, we made some plays, but the season is still very early, we just need to keep progressing."
On how his team handled the atmosphere of Neyland Stadium:
"I thought we were ready to play and jumped out early, but when you go on the road, you have to play with a high level of consistency, you can't beat yourself."
On the quick start and the play of senior RB Isaiah Pead:
"He just continues to get better and better. He was really focused and kept having second and third efforts. I thought our receivers did a good job blocking down the field, and up front, if you take away a couple of third-and-shorts, I thought we did some good things in the run game."
Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros
On the Tennessee defense:"They came out today with a different look than what we were expecting. We were expecting a lot more of a quarters coverage that we didn't get. I thought we adjusted well to it and moved the ball well, but we didn't finish drives. A couple of third and ones, fourth and ones and some missed opportunities. We would like to have those back."
On not converting near the endzone:"I thought I was over (the goal line). You never know how that would have changed the game but we still had two more downs to get it in and we didn't. That's on us. It's not on the referees and it's something we have to correct."
On what went wrong:"We'll have to watch the film. I think Tennessee did a better job than we did. We tried to go smashmouth on them and run the ball on third and one, fourth and one and if you expect to win the conference and expect to be a good team, you expect to get that yard. I don't know what went wrong, but like Isaiah said, we are going to get in and watch the film tomorrow, put this game behind us and move on for Akron."
Cincinnati RB Isaiah Pead
On his long touchdown run:"Once I broke the first tackle all I saw was KT (Kenbrell Thompkins) getting the block and sideline and touchdown. You run for the touchdown. That is what you play the game for."
On breaking a tackle on the TD run:"I was expecting to get hit. You have to expect to get hit every play but you don't have to expect to go down."
On when the game was tied at 14:"I felt like we were ready to go point-for-point with them. If it would have been a shootout, we were up for it. Unfortunately it didn't turn out that way. We had a few mistakes in big situations and we have to get that corrected likeZach said. We get back in the lab tomorrow and get ready for Akron."