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Checking the Film: A Second Look at UT’s Win over ASU

Marquez North-1

RTI has reviewed the tape of Tennessee’s 38-7 win over Utah State. 

Butch Jones discussed run efficiency a lot last week. His definition of efficiency is a run of 4+ yards or a first-down conversion. By our count, Tennessee ran the ball efficiently 22 of 41 (53.6%) times in the game. That’s slightly better than last week, but still short of UT’s goal of 58-60% efficiency. Consider that unofficial, as there were a few runs that were right at 4 yards and could’ve been classified either way, and we didn’t count some runs such as a quarterback scramble on a broken-down play.

We also took a look at what formations Tennessee used on defense. There were a couple outliers and a few variations of the listed defenses, but the Vols were in either the 4-2-5 (nickel) or the 3-3-5 package an overwhelming majority of the time. There was virtually no use of the traditional 4-3 look, though we did see that some against Utah State and it will likely be used when matchups dictate it.

3-3-5: 33 (44%)
4-2-5: 42 (56%)

Other observations from watching the film….

1st quarter:

13:16: Vols start in the 3-3-5 immediately. Curt Maggitt, Jordan Williams and Corey Vereen are the three down linemen – my guess is the Vols wanted as much speed on the field to start the game off against speedy QB Fredi Knighten. A.J. Johnson, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Chris Weatherd were the linebackers.

11:44: Bad discipline by Corey Vereen. He overreacted to the fake on the zone read, Knighten keeps it and gets the first down inside the 10.

11:09: Looks like Reeves-Maybin is spying Knigthen, but takes a bad angle and a wide receiver gets a piece of him – allowing Knighten to take it in for the first score.

9:28: Great pocket for Justin Worley – the line picked up the ASU stunt beautifully and gives him time to find Von Pearson, who found a soft spot in the middle of the ASU zone. He hits him in stride and good effort by Pig Howard about 40 yards down the field battling to get a block to get Pearson a few extra yards at the end.

8:00: Don’t love the call/execution here from about the 3. The Vols run three routes to the short side of the field on 3rd and goal and that’s the only place Worley looks. He might’ve had Ethan Wolf in the corner, but instead he checks down to Marlin Lane, who doesn’t have the space to make it to the end zone and UT settles for the field goal.

6:25: Tennessee gets its first stop of the game and credit Todd Kelly Jr., who came on the safety blitz, for rushing the throw.

5:45: Maybe the best effort from a running back all season. Tennessee blocks the play fairly well, but doesn’t account for a blitzing DB. Marlin Lane makes him miss and makes it to the second level for 18 yards.

4:32: No secret here, but Jason Croom is a big, strong man. He makes a nice first-down grab and drags three ASU defenders for an additional three yards.

– Around the 4:00 mark, you can see ASU really starting to fear/respect UT’s passing game. They only put six or seven guys in the box in most situations after that and that helps give UT a little more running room – the Vols had four straight efficient runs after that point

2:55: Nice tackle by Michael Williams on kickoff coverage. Who says track guys can’t tackle?

2nd quarter

15:00: Maybe the best throw of the season from Worley to Josh Smith on a deep out for a 21-yard gain. And a little more CAK help as Kendrick did a nice job forcing the defensive end around Worley to give him just enough time to get the pass off.

14:12: More good pass protection here. Jalen Hurd picks up the blitzing corner to give Worley time to hit Marquez North for another first down on a 3rd-and-long situation.

13:20: Tennessee has the ball 1st and goal at the 10. Justin Worley throws three really nice passes here – Johnathon Johnson drops the first, Ethan Wolf can’t quite pull in the second in-bounds, but third time is the charm as North comes down with a TD on third down. All three throws were good enough for scores though.

11:47: It’s 3rd and short here and ASU is in a very run-heavy look on offense. Tennessee keeps the nickel on the field, however, and walks Justin Coleman (nickel) and Brian Randolph up into the box to get the stop.

8:35: You just almost can’t run a screen to Cam Sutton’s side. He’s so good at blowing those up.

7:37: This is the fake punt that works for ASU. It’s hard to tell exactly what goes wrong for Tennessee because there’s absolutely nobody on that side of the field. Deanthonie Summerhill ran past the ASU blocker who ended up catching the pass, but it’s unclear if that was his assignment or not. One thing is for sure: it was a great call by ASU. It was close to being an ineligible man down field penalty, but the ball was clearly caught behind the line of scrimmage, so it was a legal play and a good one.

– Just a nice overall drive by ASU from about 9:00 – 4:00. There was the fake punt, they tried a double pass, converted a fourth down and Knighten made a nice throw to Tres Houston to beat Michael Williams for the touchdown

3:56: Timeout on the first play of a drive for Tennessee. A little Dooley-esque.

– Worley really was starting to trust Ethan Wolf as a safety valve on the final offensive drive of the first half. Again, a shame that Wolf went down later.

1:55: A little late on the decision making by Worley on this one. Pig Howard was open, but Worley waits about one beat too long and misses the window.

1:18: Nice keep call by Worley on the inside zone read. Jalen Hurd would not have been able to score, Kendrick made a nice block and Worley squeezes through for the TD run.

– Was surprised ASU wasn’t more aggressive on the final drive. They got the ball near midfield, but went to halftime with two timeouts in their pocket.

2nd Half:

3rd quarter

14:54: LaDarrell McNeil is playing some good football for this team – great tackle on special teams.

14:05: Big tackle by A.J. Johnson to keep Fredi Knighten from getting a huge run on this play. It still went for five, but without Johnson it could have been much more.

12:49: Clear to see that ASU was very worried about Chris Weatherd. He forces a false start here simply by showing blitz.

11:25: I love the confidence shown by the coaching staff here to take a shot down the field. This is a great time to call this play and maybe catch a team by surprise. This one falls incomplete – as all of the deep shots have so far this season – but should be completed much more frequently moving forward.

11:05: This is just a great play by the ASU safety to read the play as a run and rush the line to make a tackle. Had Tennessee been running a play-action pass off of the counter, they probably could have hit ASU deep for a big play.

10:40: Nice throw and catch between Worley and Malone, but had Malone been covered at all this play results in a sack. Both Jalen Hurd and Kyler Kerbyson miss their cut blocks and each defender would have had a free shot at Worley if he had been forced to hold on to the football.

10:24: This is an efficient run by Jalen Hurd, but it really looks like he had an open lane to the outside once he passed the line of scrimmage. The play went for eight, but looked like it could have been much more.

10:02: This is basically a run play – just an extended handoff to Johnathon Johnson for the first down.

9:03: Worley made the correct read and kept the ball, but has to do a better job of protecting himself.

7:57: Unreal throw and a spectacular catch by Marquez North on the back-shoulder fade for the touchdown. This should be a go-to route anytime the Vols are in the red zone. It’s nearly unguardable.

6:25: A.J. Johnson gets the deflection, but look at Derek Barnett downfield in coverage. The big defensive end is already doing things as a freshman that many upperclassmen at his position can’t do.

4:49: Jashon Robertson misses his block completely and the pressure begins to build on Worley. Lane leaves Crowder to pick up the free runner and then Crowder gets beat by his man and Worley is running for his life. Worley runs backwards instead of to the side and throws off his back foot. The ball slips and the defender makes a great play, resulting in an interception. Just a bad play all around.

4:25: Very nice play by Owen Williams to not give up on the play, keep moving his feet and track down Knighten for the sack. The Vols got great coverage downfield and Knighten had nowhere to go.

3:58: Another great play by Owen Williams to recognize the screen and stop the receiver before he could get started.

3:15: This is what makes Jalen Hurd so great. He rides his blocker until the last minute before cutting slightly outside for a nice gain. He spins away from two defenders, picks up a first down and really gives his team a lift by getting them some breathing room.

4th quarter

14:55: Good read by Worley to keep the ball on the zone-read, but he has to protect the football better.

12:47: It’s a completion for a first down, but this is about the 3rd time that Todd Kelly Jr. has tackled a man immediately after the catch. Kelly was extremely impressive all day in wrapping up and making sure tackles and this is another prime example.

-Brian Randolph was said to be nursing an ankle injury, but looked very good in this drive.

10:50: Not enough pressure. Knighten had way too much time to find his man over the middle.

9:23: Great throw by Worley and a nearly sensational catch by Josh Smith. That’s a very impressive throw by Worley to put the ball where only his man could catch it while running to his right.

9:05: Against any other quarterback that Tennessee will face this year, that’s a sack. Knighten was just a little too fast for Owen Williams on that one.

-Interesting to note that Todd Kelly Jr. started in place of Brian Randolph but on this series they actually played together at the two safety spots.

8:00: The Vols again run a play from the Pistol formation, no doubt trying to give Oklahoma more looks to prepare for.

3:50: Dimarya Mixon shows off his speed by chasing down the play from the back side. Good to see him gaining very valuable game-reps.

3:00: Michael Sawyers seeing some reps on this drive at DT.

2:50: LaTroy Lewis makes his second big play in as many weeks with a nice 4th-down stop on Fredi Knighten here. Lewis may earn himself some playing time with the first team unit if he can keep up this type of production in his limited snaps.

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