Tennessee defense best after turnovers Print
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Wednesday, 01 October 2008 16:46
NCAAF Headline News

 KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -With its offense struggling, Tennessee's defense has been doing damage control often this season.
The Volunteers (1-3) have thrown four interceptions and lost four fumbles, but their defense has limited opponents to only 16 points off those turnovers.
``To be quite honest with you, over the years we've been our best in sudden change,'' defensive coordinator John Chavis said.
The Vols, who face Northern Illinois (2-2) on Saturday, rehearse those momentum swings as much as possible. During offseason scrimmages, coaches might yell ``sudden change'' after the offense has been on the field for only a few plays.
That makes those sudden change times a little less of a surprise when they happen during games. Tennessee's dominant defense helped keep the Vols competitive in its 14-12 loss to Auburn last Saturday.
``It's a mind-set we have as a defense that we have to go out there, get a stop and get the ball back to the offense,'' defensive end Chris Walker said. ``That's something our coaches preach and something we've bought into.''
drive following a turnover, a 12-play, 75-yard drive by Florida that resulted in a field goal after a fumble by Jonathan Crompton.
On two drives, the defense has prevented its opponent from making a first down. After UAB intercepted Crompton, Walter Fisher sacked Blazers quarterback Joe Webb for a 7-yard loss, and UAB punted after losing 8 yards on the 3-play drive.
Ten of the points scored off Tennessee turnovers were practically impossible to prevent. Auburn scored a touchdown after recovering the ball fumbled in the end zone on a handoff between Crompton and Arian Foster.
Florida recovered a fumble at the Tennessee 22 and kicked a field goal after running three plays for no gain.
``You would like to have the idea that you're going to play that way on every play, but it's got to mean something,'' Chavis said. ``It's got to mean something when you're put in that situation, and our guys have done a good job of responding because we've worked it.''
The Vols rank 17th nationally in total defense having allowed an average of 158 yards per game this season. They rank 34th in scoring defense with an average 18.5 points allowed.
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STRUGGLING FRESHMAN: Kentucky freshman receiver Aaron Boyd was expected to make an immediate impact this season. He hasn't been able to deliver.
sed considerable practice time. Healthy again for the second game against Norfolk State, Boyd has still struggled to make the starting lineup, largely because of his work ethic, coach Rich Brooks said.
``I'm going to keep my patience,'' Brooks said. ``You have to practice well and you have to perform well and you have to know what you're doing and you have to do it full speed in this league or you won't play as much.''
Kentucky (4-0) lost three starting receivers after last season, and it was hoped that Boyd could help pick up the slack with returnee Dicky Lyons Jr.
But the freshman has lacked focus and initiative, according to his coach.
``When he starts getting that, he'll play more,'' Brooks said.
Boyd did catch all three passes thrown to him is the Wildcats' win against Western Kentucky, which Brooks called encouraging.
``But he's got a lot of work to do and he has to understand the level of intensity it takes to play in this league,'' Brooks said.
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MR. SMITH: The return of senior receiver George Smith from a stress fracture may be the best thing for No. 19 Vanderbilt's passing game.
The Commodores (4-0) are last in the SEC in passing, averaging just 80 yards per game. No Commodores' receiver has caught more than four passes in a game.
Smith's last game was last season against Wake Forest. He caught seven passes for 94 yards.
know how effective Smith can be after missing so much time. But he said Smith has been practicing well.
``Well I think having George's personality and leadership and what he has brought to the program, will be a big boost for him. George is a real good player. He's tall and he can run and catch so that puts a little pressure on anybody's team. Hopefully, we'll get him out there and he can get back into the swing of things and make some plays for our football team,'' Johnson said.
The Commodores will try to win their third straight SEC game for the first time since 1982 on Saturday when No. 13 Auburn (4-1, 2-1) visits.
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MORE LEE: LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee has now put together three consecutive productive halves, but head coach Les Miles said he still intends to play Andrew Hatch.
Hatch, a sophomore transfer from Harvard, started LSU's first three games, but left the second half of LSU's 26-21 comeback victory at Auburn with a concussion. Lee, a redshirt freshman, led LSU to victory in that game and then took all the first-team snaps in practice last week while Hatch rested.
In the Tigers' 34-24 victory over Mississippi State last Saturday, Lee started and went the whole way, going 18-of-27 for 261 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown to Demetrius Byrd. For that performance, Lee was named SEC freshman of the week.
11. Hatch, however, was back at practice on Tuesday.
``Andrew Hatch looked great,'' Miles said. ``With the time off, his arm was awfully fresh. We'll still play two quarterbacks.''
How evenly Hatch and Lee share playing time remains to be seen, but it's clear Miles has more confidence in Lee's ability to move the offense than he did before Lee started making plays during the second half at Auburn.
``Of course, Jarrett Lee will play more than he did in the Auburn game,'' Miles said.
 

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