Vol Report: Alabama Week

Oct. 17, 2011

Here are a few of the most important quotes of the day from selected players:

"The week we start the game, Coach Dooley always talks about how traditional this game is and how it means to much to this University and the people around here that we go out and represent UT as best as we can. He talks about it so much and he tells us to appreciate the opportunity that you have to play in this storied rivalry. We have to continue to be excited about it. This rivalry has been around a long time and we have to play like it. It means something to this state and it means something to this program."

"We were excited and ready to play. We were fired up about the opportunity to play one of the best teams in the country then. We had the game won and they blocked the field goal on us. It was very disheartening that we lost that game because it's a game we should've won. It sucks now that you think about it, but it's another opportunity. We have to again be excited about it, get excited about this week of practice and just get ready to prepare as best as we can."

"It's really important. With some key guys down in the pass game, it's definitely important on first and second down to get an efficient run or efficient play. This defense is very good and they're very strict on their rules. Outhitting them and getting a few yards on every play is really important to get that third down to third-and-short and not third-and-long."

"With Matt, we just have a lot of confidence in him. He brings a lot of confidence to the table. He's confident in every call he makes and he's confident in the huddle. He brings a lot of encouragement. I really feel like with Matt in the huddle we don't really miss a beat and we have a lot of trust in him."

"It's huge. Against a team like LSU you can't have that many mistakes. Against a team like Alabama you can't make mistakes, you have to come in there pretty much flawless to beat a team like that. Being on the field that long really wears on you as the game progresses and you kind of saw that towards the end of the (LSU) game. We just have to make sure we get off the field and get those third-down stops."

"Coach Sirmon did say it again yesterday. He said this is just another week with a `nameless, faceless opponent.' You figure with Alabama, you always want to leave the University of Tennessee saying that you beat them, so it's definitely something a little more than that to me. I want to beat these guys and I am going to prepare to the best of my abilities this week to make sure that happens."

"They both have their strengths and weaknesses. I guess I won't know until I play them, but LSU has been the best team I've played this year. They were the most physical, definitely the most dominant team we have faced. I'll find out this week if Alabama is better than them, but I guess we'll find out when they play each other as well."

"I just feel like it's another game. We play a lot of good teams in the SEC and this is a rivalry game, but our focus this week is on getting better."

"It was a very intense game. It came down to the last quarter and we didn't get to pull it out and get the victory. We've got to come in this year ready to win."

"I liked how we had everybody playing with that passion that you see with the great Tennessee teams in the past. Now the challenge is having that same passion for four quarters. With those past teams you could see the gang tackling, and everybody getting excited, you could hear Rocky Top playing. In the first half, I think we got a good glimpse of that. In the second half they came out and ran the ball down our throats. We were not able to keep that passion up. With a team like Alabama, they are going to hit some big plays. They've got to many good players not to do that. That will be the challenge; to play the next play (like the first half against LSU)."

"The secondary is going to have to come up and make tackles. Richardson is a great running back. He's powerful, he's fast, and he's physical. We've got to come up to the line and fit our gaps and fit our holes, and be ready for any pass game they give us. We've got to be focused and ready to play."

"It's going to be a tough challenge. The BCS poll just came out and (Alabama) is the number two team in the country. Just by watching film on them, you can already tell a big difference between their style of play and other teams (we've played) style of play. You can tell they don't make many mistakes, they're physical every down, and it's going to be a battle."

"Yes, I think so. Just based on offensive line play, it looked like Alabama's offensive line is exponentially more physical than LSU. They also have a great running back who is probably the best in the SEC. It's going to be a tough game."

The Tennessee-South Carolina game on Oct. 29 will kick off at 7:15 p.m. on either ESPN or ESPN2

KNOXVILLE - The last time Tennessee traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala., the Crimson Tide was the No. 1 ranked team in the country. Two years later, Alabama (7-0) is ranked second - but it might be even better this go around.

"It's (Nick Saban's) best team," head coach Derek Dooley said. "(It's) probably as physically as dominating defense as I've seen in the modern era of football and I know that is strong statement, but I believe it. You catch yourself watching them, not studying them. They've given up seven points a game, 38 yards rushing a game, 184 total yards a game.

And in this era doing something like that, it's a combination of doing everything. (They're) incredibly talented at every position, great coaching and just a relentless dominating style of play. You look at their three running backs and every one of them is averaging six or seven yards a carry."

While the Vols are averaging 383 yards of offense, they amounted a season-low 239 yards against the Tigers. Things won't get easier on Saturday against Alabama.

"You see probably prototype size and athleticism at every position," Dooley said. "You see experience, they are all back from last year. I think all eleven guys are juniors and seniors so there is a lot of experience. You aren't going to fool them. There is no play that is going to get them. Of course, the scheme is very good."

Senior tailback Tauren Poole wasn't in any hurry to accept praise for recording the highest total of rushing yards (70) by an individual against LSU's defense this season.

"I credit Bart (Ben Bartholomew)," Poole said. "I credit the offense line. I credit Matt (Simms) for getting us into the right checks that we needed. We succeeded in the run game. The result wasn't what we wanted but we made progress and we're going to have to continue to run the football, especially this week, and continue to move the ball the best that we can."

Despite a struggle to run the ball this season, Tennessee has continued to work at it and showed improvement against the Tigers, who had allowed just 69.2 rushing yards per game coming in. The Vols finished with 111 total yards, including a career-high 43 from freshman tailback Marlin Lane.

"I think we did a lot better job identifying linebackers and the O-Line worked a lot all last week on getting the run game better," junior fullback Ben Bartholomew said. "We were just a lot more physical this week. I think we're going to continue to press being more physical, just exploding off the ball and being more downhill because that will definitely help the run game."

Also helping the run game is the belief that the Vols can continue to improve upon their performance Saturday.

"I feel confident," Poole said. "I feel more confident in the offensive line and the fullbacks than anything. Those guys played really hard and my progression was there. My production was there. That's why I give it all to them.

"I didn't do anything spectacular. All I did was just run and that's what the offensive line told me to do. Hats off to those guys, Bart and Fugate for just practicing hard and it opened up the run game for us."

Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson enters Saturday's contest against Tennessee coming off the best game of his collegiate career after rushing for a personal-best 183 yards and a whopping four touchdowns against Ole Miss last week.

For the season, the Heisman Trophy hopeful ranks second in the nation with 912 rushing yards and third with 15 touchdowns.

"There is a lot to say about that guy," Tennessee linebacker Austin Johnson said. "He is a great back, Heisman-trophy back. He is a hard, downhill runner, he is physical, he's hard to bring down. It's something that I look forward to this week. It's going to be a big challenge and I'm excited. He's kind of in a category of his own. He's definitely an elite back."

The Vols will have their hands full trying to slow Richardson down, but that is a challenge they are looking forward to confronting head on.

"It's big guys that play physical and you know their coaches love trying to run the ball right down the middle," UT defensive lineman Daniel Hood said. "For me, that's the biggest challenge, and that's the kind of challenge I like. I don't like chasing down screen (passes) or anything like that. It takes real mean to be able to stop the run, and we're going to have to step up to be able to do that this week."

Making Tennessee's task to slow down Richardson even more difficult is Alabama's ability to play off the run and throw the ball around the field with accuracy. That balance

"You worry so much about the running game and try to load the box to stop that and then they can throw on you at any moment," Johnson said. "That's definitely something that gives them an advantage. Also, their offensive line is fast and physical. They can definitely move and that makes it challenging for the defense. It kind of brings them all together. They don't really have a weakness I would say."





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