KNOXVILLE — Jim Chaney admitted he had as big a hand as anybody in the Tennessee's second-half collapse against Florida last week.
The Volunteers' offensive coordinator said after Wednesday morning's practice that he didn't call enough running plays while the game was still in the balance.
"I look back on the ball game," he said, "and I think I might have abandoned the run game too quickly as we got toward the end of the third [quarter] and early in the fourth. That'd be the biggest change if you said something about our run game. I'd say it'd be more in my hands than anything our kids did."
Tennessee was balanced offensively in building a 20-13 lead with just 20 minutes left in the game. The Vols had 27 pass attempts to 23 rushes, but that number changed drastically as Florida took control. While Tennessee was up a touchdown, tied and down a score, Chaney called 14 passes and two runs.
After stopping Florida short of a first down on a fake punt attempt, Chaney decided to take a shot with a downfield pass, but the Vols missed an assignment and failed to pick up a blitzing safety that forced Tyler Bray into an intentional grounding penalty. The next drive, a five-play possession that ended in an interception, is where Chaney said he "should have kept sticking with the run game." After Florida took the lead, Tennessee threw it on the next six plays.
"It's 20-20 then, and I got a little pass-happy," Chaney said. "That probably harmed us as much as anything. I think up until that, I was pleased, and if we would have hit that shot play, I think I might still be feeling good.
"If I had recognized it as it was happening, I probably would have called a few more runs. I thought there were some situations where I could have. When it went to 14, I felt like maybe not then, but when it was seven, I probably was a little quick to [abandon it]."
Reviewing the rotation
Tennessee's offensive assistants addressed their substitution patterns after coach Derek Dooley said Monday some of his key skill players played too many snaps Running backs coach Jay Graham said it was a little different with Neal, who was running well and finding a bit of a groove. Neal got 23 carries, while Marlin Lane's lone run came in the first quarter.
"The thing you try to do is when a guy has a feel and is doing some good things, you want to keep him in there, but you've got to fight that urge and try early," he said. "I think it was more early than late, maybe in the first quarter or the first half, to get things started. When you're playing fast-paced, you get 40-something plays in the first half.
"I get the sheet, and I have someone marking off to make sure I'm checking the plays. Sometimes it's a feel thing, but you've got to be careful with that and get someone in there to get him a breather. Probably should have done it a little bit more."
Graham said he asked Neal "several times" how he was feeling throughout the game. Receivers coach Darin Hinshaw said he did the same with Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson, who hardly ever left the game. Chaney said the coaching staff just has to trust the other players.
"I think you just have to do it," he said. "You've just got to put them out there and count on them and trust they'll do it and make sure when they're out there I'm aware of who's on the field. That's tougher with the situation we're going in right now trying to play a little bit faster football."
Disputing the claim
Both Dooley and Chaney shot down the validity of Bray's statement that he didn't watch the video from the second half of the Florida game.
"He's not telling the whole truth on some of that," Chaney said. "We watched the game together."
"That's not really true," Dooley said on the Southeastern Conference coaches' teleconference. "I don't know why he said that. We correct all the film.
"I think Tyler's point was that you have to have a short memory when you play quarterback."
• Safety Brian Randolph said he's scheduled to have surgery on his torn anterior cruciate ligament some time next week once the swelling in his knee decreases.
• Right tackle Ja'Wuan James returned to practice Wednesday after missing Tuesday's workout.
• There still appears to be no decision on whether Michael Palardy or Derrick Brodus will handle Tennessee's kicking duties against Akron on Saturday.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...