I raved about the offense in my blog post here ->http://breatheifyoulovefootball.blogspot.com/2012/09/thoughts-from-tennessee-vs-nc-state.html. The Vols defense was better than I expected but it does exhibit a Dr. Jeckle/Mr. Hyde feel to it. We did rotate a lot on defense. The secondary struggled at times as the safeties appeared to have communication issues with other defensive backs and the linebackers. Still, there was a lot to like about the defense.
The Vols switched from a 4/3 base defense to a 3/4 base defense this year. Once players get used to the new system I think we will have a high caliber defense. After week 1 we are tied at the top with 4 interceptions. The defensive line played much better than expected and our linebackers played really well.
Initially, the secondary struggled a bit with the safeties not always coming in to assist when needed. This appeared to be communications issues that can be addressed and corrected.
On the defensive line it appeared to me that Mo Couch had the best night. Darrington Sentimore was active as was Marlon Walls. It was hard sometimes to get good camera angles but I didn't think Daniel McCullers was very active.
Of the linebackers, Curt Maggitt is an absolute beast. He was literally everywhere and had a stellar game. Really, all the LB's who saw action did well. AJ Johnson did extremely well. Unfortunately, Herman Lathers who was also having an excellent game went out with a right shoulder injury. He was replaced by Dontavious Sapp who immediately got to the quarterback and then had a tackle for a loss.
Eric Gordon is a superstar in the making. he is a bit undersized at 5' 9" but he plays much bigger and finished with 4 tackles and 1 interception. Prentice Wagner had a nice game as did Brian Randolph. Byron Moore is a mixed bag. He struggled at times but did end the night with 8 tackles and an interception. Brent Brewer had the hit of the night and hopefully could see some time at linebacker as well.
Individual group stats are listed below:
DL – Darrington Sentimore stats not available yet, Maurice Couch 5 solo tackles and 1 tackle for a loss of 3 yards, and Marlon Walls 1 tackle and 1 assist.
LB's - Herman Lathers 5 total tackles 3 solo and 2 assists, Dontavious Sapp 1 tackle and 1 tackle for a loss of 4 yards, AJ Johnson 3 tackles and 1 assist, Curt Maggitt 4 tackles, 1 assist, 1 forced fumble and 1 sack for an 18 yard loss, Jacques Smith 3 tackles and1 assist. Willie Bohannon did fine in relief and Channing Fugate played extremely well on special teams.
DB’s – Eric Gordon 4 tackles and 1 Interception, Prentice Wagner 4 tackles and 1 assist, Brian Randolph 7 solo tackles and 1 assist with 1 tackle for a loss of 2 yards, Byron Moore 8 tackles and 1 interception, and Brent Brewer with 4 tackles.