Nov. 2, 2010
Despite arriving at Haslam Field for Tuesday afternoon's practice with the `Tuesday Mulley-Grubs,' Tennessee put forth a productive effort after head coach Derek Dooley addressed the issue early.
"We came out with the Tuesday Mulley-Grubs, which (means), `I'm tired. My arm hurts. I have a headache. School was hard,'" Dooley said. "It's the standard Tuesday feel-sorry-for-me, late in the season. I wanted to go ahead and put an end to it in the beginning. It was good. We picked it up."
After totaling three sacks in their first four games, the Vols have gotten to the quarterback at least twice in three of the last four contests. Between the defensive line and the seven behind them, the Vols are looking to improve each facet of pressuring the quarterback.
"We've been better in our pressures," Dooley said. "We're still not getting what we need in the four-man rush. That's hurting us. Not only that, but then we lose containment of the quarterback in our four-man rush and that's hurting us. The four-man pressure has probably hurt us more than anything and then you have to rely on the blitz.
"Early in the year, our blitzes weren't getting there early. We're getting a little better timing on the blitzes and getting off the blocks better. That helped us the other night, the ball coming out earlier than he wants. It's the oldest saying out there. The best pass defense is a good pass rush."
JONES TO THE RESCUE
It's no secret that wide receiver Gerald Jones has been a key component in the Vols' ability to move the chains on third down. In Jones' three-game absence due to injury (hand), the Vols were just 6-for-43 (.140) on third down. In the five games he has played in, however, Jones has been responsible for nearly 40 percent of the Vols' third-down conversions (11 of 30).
"When we were struggling, we were missing Gerald Jones," Dooley said. "There was a stretch there where for about three games he was out. I don't want to put it all on Gerald. We've got a little better understanding of our third down plays and we're executing better.
"Third down is just about throwing and catching. Gerald has been a big part of that. He's dependable. He can get open in those underneath routes and that's been a big help for our quarterbacks. We run a lot of choice and option routes. It takes time to get to know the body language and anticipate what (the receiver) is going to do in and out of the cut."
LATHERS UTILIZING SPEED
Sophomore Herman Lathers, who is tied for the Vols' leader in sacks (2.5) and ranks second among the team in tackles-for-loss (4.5), has played a large role in UT's ability to create pressure in the backfield over the past two games.
"He has good speed," Dooley said. "He has good twitch. He has good burst and he's a good, explosive hitter. He's one of those, I call them `runners and hitters guys.' When he runs in a straight line, he's effective. When you pressure and you have a bee-line to the quarterback, he can put a good pop on him so it's been effective. Where runners and hitters get challenged early in their careers is learning how to change direction, match the patterns and do all that stuff. That's what giving him problems."
Correction -- Tennessee's Homecoming game against Mississippi is Nov. 13, not Nov. 6 as listed in yesterday's release. Kickoff is set for noon Eastern time on the Vol Network and CBS.