published Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Vols gameday


by Wes Rucker

UAB (1-2) at Tennessee (1-2)

12:21 p.m., Neyland Stadium

SEC Network (WDSI), 106.5 FM

WHEN TENNESSEE HAS THE BALL

TENNESSEE OFFENSIVE STARTERS

QB Matt Simms 6-3, 217, Sr.

FB Kevin Cooper 6-0, 242, Sr.

TB Tauren Poole 5-11, 213, Jr.

WR Denarius Moore 6-1, 194, Sr.

WR Zach Rogers 6-0, 178, So.

TE Luke Stocker 6-6, 253, Sr.

LT Dallas Thomas 6-5, 295, So.

LG James Stone 6-4, 295, Fr.

C Darin Gooch 6-3, 305, So.

RG Jarrod Shaw 6-4, 331, Sr.

RT Ja’Wuan James 6-7, 313, Fr.

PK Daniel Lincoln 6-0, 210, Sr.

UAB DEFENSIVE STARTERS

DE Bryant Turner 6-2, 260, Sr.

DT Elliot Henigan 6-4, 275, Jr.

DT D.J. Reese 6-4, 280, Sr.

DE Connor Boyett 6-5, 245, Fr.

SLB Lamanski Ware 6-2, 220, Jr.

MLB Marvin Burdette 5-11, 230, So.

WLB Daniel White 6-2, 225, So.

CB T.J. Ballou 6-2, 200, Jr.

CB Terrell Springs 5-9, 175, Jr.

S Chase Daniel 6-3, 200, Jr.

S Jamie Bender 5-11, 195, Jr.

P Trey Ragland 5-11, 175, Jr.

The matchup: UAB has surrendered at least 28 points in each of its first three games, and no opponent was from a major conference. The Blazers are ranked 98th out of 120 FBS teams in scoring defense (31 points per game), and they are 103rd in total defense (444.7 yards per game) and 105th in passing defense (282.3 ypg). The Vols must be careful with Turner, who already has four sacks this season, but Simms should have a big day if his jersey stays clean. UT will look to get Poole and backup David Oku going after a miserable day against Florida, and any success on the ground will further expose UAB’s shaky secondary. Vols freshman receivers Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers were given more practice reps with the starters this week, and their size could pose serious problems for the Blazers.

WHEN UAB HAS THE BALL

UAB OFFENSIVE STARTERS

QB David Isabelle 6-3, 185, So.

RB Pat Shed 5-9, 175, Jr.

WR Mario Wright 6-5, 205, Sr.

WR Patrick Hearn 6-2, 185, So.

WR Mike Jones 6-1, 180, Sr.

TE Jeffery Anderson 6-3, 255, Sr.

LT Matt McCants 6-7, 295, Jr.

LG Caleb Thomas 6-3, 290, Jr.

C Darion Smith 6-2, 280, Jr.

RG Chris Hubbard 6-3, 250, So.

RT Terence Edge 6-2, 295, Jr.

PK Josh Zahn 6-0, 190, So.

TENNESSEE DEFENSIVE STARTERS

LE Malik Jackson 6-5, 265, Jr.

NT Montori Hughes 6-4, 305, So.

DT Victor Thomas 6-3, 293, Sr.

RE Chris Walker 6-3, 245, Sr.

SLB LaMarcus Thompson 6-1, 228, Sr.

MLB Nick Reveiz 5-10, 224, Sr.

WLB Herman Lathers 6-0, 217, So.

LCB Art Evans 6-0, 185, Jr.

RCB Marsalis Teague 5-10, 178, So.

SS Prentiss Waggner 6-2, 181, So.

FS Janzen Jackson 6-0, 187, So.

P Chad Cunningham 6-2, 210, Sr.

The matchup: Isabelle is a dual-threat quarterback who ran for 214 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in UAB’s season-opening loss to Florida Atlantic. But the Blazers brought backup Bryan Ellis, a traditional dropback passer, off the bench last week, and Ellis completed 23 of 37 passes for 360 yards and three touchdowns in a come-from-behind win over Troy. Vols defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox didn’t install two separate plans for the two quarterbacks this week, but he’ll use a few specific tactics (with corresponding personnel changes) against each. Shed averages 7.9 yards per carry, and the Blazers use 215-pound backup Justin Brooks in certain situations. UT worked all week on improving third-down defense after surrendering eight conversions in 14 tries against Florida. Fourth linebacker Austin Johnson could play more this week, since Lathers is less than 100 percent with an unspecified injury.

THE ONE TO WATCH

UT senior defensive end Chris Walker

Walker is one of UT’s best and most experienced players and was named the team’s defensive player of the week against Florida, but he hasn’t registered a sack this season. That’s a big reason why UT’s opponents have converted nearly 40 percent of their third and fourth downs.

IN THE END

Breaking it down: The Vols have shown serious flaws the past two weeks, particularly on third down on each side of the ball. Their pass protection and pass rushing have been suspect, but UAB is no fifth-ranked Oregon or ninth-ranked Florida. UAB might hang around for a bit, but the Vols should pull away with some big passing plays at some point. They want to win by two or three scores and gain some confidence going into a tough October schedule. The Vols won’t fix all their problems today, but they should win comfortably and with some style points.

Prediction: Tennessee 37, UAB 17.

— Wes Rucker

about Wes Rucker...

Twitter - @wesrucker Facebook - /tfpvolsbeat

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