Big Orange Report 11-7-11
This article was originally published in blog:
By Warner Agee
Tennessee’s 24-0 victory over Middle Tennessee State in the 2011 homecoming game on the Hill in Knoxville may not have been a work of art or an unforgettable clash, but it was a welcome escape from the treacherous October slate of games against four of the best five teams in the SEC. By the way, the Volunteers face the fifth squad in that group when they travel to Arkansas on Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with a scheduled kickoff around 6 p.m...
There were some highlights at homecoming, the alumni band is always a treat and a shutout pitched by the Vol defense was very pleasing as well. Middle’s defense has betrayed the Blue Raiders this season, but their offense came into this game averaging about 30 points and 433 yards of total offense per outing. In the Vols whitewash, MTSU was limited to just 238 yards total production on the evening.
Big Orange middle linebacker swiped his team leading second interception of the year and pesky sophomore defensive back Eric Gordon also pilfered a pass and added two tackles for loss yardage for good measure.
Freshman quarterback Justin Worley appeared much more at ease in his second start and he found dynamic sophomore wide receiver DaRick Rogers nine times for 137 yards and a touchdown. Rogers, who has been consistently double covered since the injury sustained by Justin Hunter, is now among the elite, leading receivers in the SEC this fall.
Calling on the Hogs
Another Saturday, another clash with a member of the BCS top 10. Tennessee might have hoped for a chance to catch the Arkansas aerial circus flat, but that probably won’t happen. The Razorbacks are still in the western division race with a regular-season finale slated against unbeaten LSU coming up in Baton Rouge on Nov. 25.
Tennessee pass rush vs. Tyler Wilson—Given time, Wilson can torch any secondary in the country. Obviously, the Vols back end has not been stable this year and even if they were, the best defensive backs can only stay with good receivers for around 3.6 to 4 seconds. Justin Wilcox is going to have to roll the dice in this game with the blitz and just hope that the tackles and middle linebacker can prevent the Hogs from gashing the Vol defense up the middle. The Vols might even open in a nickel defense, if they do, that cornerback blitz from the boundary (short side), might be a weapon to employ.
Vol offensive line vs. Arkansas front seven on defense—The Razorbacks have just not been very good against the run since the first of October. On the other hand, the Volunteers infantry has underachieved for this entire season. Any chance Tennessee has in this game may revolve around its ability to run the ball, move the chains and play keep away from Wilson. Of course, Arkansas is probably going to walk the strong safety down and dare UT to throw. It still doesn’t matter because the Big Orange simply must try and try again to mount a sustained rushing attack in this contest. Arkansas middle linebacker Jerry Franklin must be accounted for on every snap.
DaRick Rogers and Mychal Rivera vs. Arkansas coverage—One of these guys has got to find a way to get consistently open if the Volunteers are to get anything done through the air. Just a few nice completions might loosen up the Hogs and stop them from trying to pig out down in the box. Short throws to speedy Rajion Neal and the running backs might even be more effective than trying to run the ball.
Watch for this—Tennessee really has nothing to lose in this contest and certainly one would hope that the staff might get creative and gamble on both sides of the football. Also, Devrin Young has been getting very close to breaking a coast to coast kick return. It certainly would be nice to see him take one to the house this weekend