Vols tackling their tackling issues this week

Florida Athletics photo by Ashley Ray / Tennessee cornerback Kamal Hadden tumbles to the ground after missing a tackle on Florida running back Trevor Etienne during Etienne's 62-yard touchdown run in last Saturday's 29-16 victory by the Gators.

The Tennessee Volunteers did not exactly put on a tackling clinic during last Saturday night's 29-16 loss at Florida.

Trevor Etienne ran wild in the Swamp for the Gators, amassing 172 yards on 23 carries for an average of 7.5 yards per rush. A whopping 119 of Etienne's yards came after contact, according to Pro Football Focus, which was a credit to Etienne and a discredit to Tennessee's defense.

Etienne's yards after contact against the Vols last weekend led all Power Five running backs.

"We understand that fundamentals are the way we're going to win the game," Tennessee fifth-year senior cornerback Gabe Jeudy-Lally said this week in a news conference. "We know that we didn't play our best when it came to eye discipline and wrapping up and finishing to the ground. We understand this week that every rep we get is a tackling rep and every rep we get is a game rep.

"I think we're responding well and are showing that we took what we saw on film to heart."

The Vols on Wednesday continued to turn the page from their Southeastern Conference opening disappointment and to this Saturday's home game against the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Tennessee's most disastrous play so far this season transpired last weekend late in the first quarter after the Vols had taken a 7-0 lead. On a first-and-10 run by Etienne from the Florida 38, Vols free safety Wesley Walker came up and not only whiffed on the tackle but took Jeudy-Lally out of the play.

As Etienne neared midfield, cornerback Kamal Hadden bumped him but didn't wrap him up, thus springing Etienne for a 62-yard touchdown that ignited the crowd for the rest of the evening.

"We're going to practice tackling whether we tackled at a 100% clip or like a night we had Saturday night," Vols third-year defensive coordinator Tim Banks said. "We obviously had some open-field missed tackles that need to be addressed, so we put them in those game-like situations the best we can.

"Obviously we're not tackling guys to the ground (in practice), but as far as our footwork goes, our pad level and where our eyes are, we try to make sure we're emphasizing those particular tackles."

UTSA suddenly needs to be a get-well game for the Vols both from offensive execution and tackling standpoints. South Carolina visits next week, and Tennessee has a three-game gauntlet in October consisting of Texas A&M at home, at Alabama and at Kentucky.

"I give credit to Florida," Banks said. "They ran hard and broke some tackles. Schematically, they did a good job with misdirections to try and hold the linebackers' eyes or the safeties' eyes, but they didn't do anything that we hadn't necessarily prepared for.

"For us to go where we want to go, we all have to tackle better."

Spanish broadcast

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, Tennessee's game against UTSA will feature the first Spanish audio broadcast in program history.

The Spanish broadcast will be available beginning at 4 p.m. through the Vol Network and on UTsports.com. Carlos Lopez will handle play-by-play duties and will be assisted in the booth by former Vols and NFL kicker Fuad Reveiz.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.