Razorbacks slice up Vols

Razorbacks slice up Vols

November 13th, 2011 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Arkansas running back Dennis Johnson (33) eludes tackles by Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson (45) and defensive back Justin Coleman (27) during the second quarter of their NCAA college football game in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011.

Photo by (AP Photo by April L. Brown)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Joe Adams caught the punt at his own 40-yard line.

Ten yards later, the Arkansas senior receiver had more than half the Tennessee punt-coverage unit bearing down on him.

More than 65 yards and hardly 10 seconds later Adams was in the end zone celebrating with his teammates and a crowd of 72,103 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

By the end of the Volunteers' 49-7 loss on Saturday night, the eighth-ranked Hogs had put together quite the highlight reel on offense, defense and special teams.

"It was great," UT coach Derek Dooley said of his punt team's coverage. "We should have had him for minus-10. We had five guys there. You've got to finish it. We had him. We've just got to tackle the guy. He's jumping here, right, left, right -- it looks like middle-school ball."

Most of UT's current players weren't even close to middle school the last time UT lost a game by more than 40 points. The 42-point loss was the Vols' worst since a 59-20 defeat at Florida in 2007. It's the second-worst loss of the modern era, behind only a 44-0 defeat to Georgia in 1981. UT is 0-6 in the Southeastern Conference for the first time in school history.

The Razorbacks lived up to their statistical presence as the league's top offense, rolling up 499 yards on 57 plays (8.8 yards per play). The Vols ran 20 more plays on offense and held the ball for 37 minutes but finished with just 376 yards and didn't score a second-half point for the second consecutive game.

"These guys are good," Dooley said. "That's what they do, and they've been doing it with a lot of teams. They're so explosive throwing the ball you have to loosen up a little bit, and when we loosen up -- we think we're good against the run, but we're good when they pack it in there and we reduce space.

"When we play teams we can't do that on and they can do either one, we just get exposed. I don't know any other way to say it. When there's air in there, you have to be a great tackling team, but they have some great playmakers -- break tackles, make moves. That's what playmakers do."

Tailback Dennis Johnson had touchdown runs of 71 and 15 yards, receiver Jarius Wright had 94 yards receiving and a touchdown and receiver Adams had the punt-return TD and hauled in a touchdown catch of 40 yards.

"We've played a lot of competitive offenses, but, you know, I think they're up there, though, for sure," said UT defensive tackle Maurice Couch.

The Vols did have some opportunities, though. Defensive back Eric Gordon dropped an interceptin he possibly could have returned for a score, and UT's kickoff coverage unit failed to jump on a loose ball on a short kickoff to open the second half.

Freshman quarterback Justin Worley threw an interception to Tramain Thomas at the goal line just before halftime with UT down 21-7.

"It's something he's just going to have to learn -- you've got to learn from it," Dooley said. "We're getting a lot of scars this year, a lot of learning. This is like we're in advanced school, football school of beatdown learning. Lot of learning going on. Lot of teaching. I don't know how much we're learning from it."

Trailing by that same tally early in the third quarter, the Vols had a fourth-and-1 opportunity erased by a holding penalty, a sack and a 12-yard punt. Johnson scored his second touchdown on the ensuing possession before Arkansas opened the floodgates and tacked on touchdown after touchdown.

"It's really hard [playing from behind], especially when you've got guys on the opposite of the ball pointing fingers," senior defensive lineman Malik Jackson said. "There was a lot of finger-pointing going on. Like I said, people hate losing and when people lose they try and find scapegoats instead of looking in the mirror and what we've got to do is look in the mirror and look at ourselves and figure out what we're going to do about it."

UT will have to win games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky the next two weeks to get to 6-6 and bowl eligibility.

"I feel pressure every week. It's not any additional pressure," Dooley said. "We're going to get defined by how we play the next two weeks. If we play like crap, we'll go down as a bad football team. If we play good, then we'll go down as a team that fought it to the end and was able to pull it out.

"It's not really complex. We're going to coach them like we do every week and prepare like we do every week. We've got a good football team coming in next week, licking their chops."