Checking the Tape: A Second Look at UT’s Loss to OU

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    It was a tough night for Tennessee in a lot of phases of the game against Oklahoma. The Sooners were able to use some timely big plays on offense and a devastating pass rush on defense to get by the Volunteers 34-10 in a game that was much more competitive than the final score would indicate. RTI has reviewed the tape and found some very interesting moments in the game that are worth watching again with an explanation.

    Here’s what we found when we went back and checked the tape:

    1st quarter:

    15:00: Well, Coleman Thomas’ rough night started on the very first play. The freshman right tackle missed two blocks on Pig Howard’s jet sweep and the two players he didn’t block were the two that forced Howard to retreat and turn around into  the linebacker that was trailing the play. Thomas has to get a hand on somebody.

    13:41: You can tell that Tennessee has tremendous respect for Oklahoma’s running game on the first defensive snap. They start in a true 4-3 formation but walk Brian Randolph into the box to show OU a 4-4 look. Tennessee was daring Oklahoma to pass the ball from the word go.

    13:14: And, just like that Oklahoma burns Tennessee with a play-action bootleg. Tennessee is so focused on the running game that Oklahoma is able to fool them on the second play of the game by faking the run to the short side of the field and rolling Trevor Knight to the wide said. Knight hits Durron Neal for a first down and the Sooners are on the move.

    12:20: Oklahoma hits a big run on 2nd and 5 thanks to two blatant holds on Derek Barnett and A.J. Johnson as the running back was coming through the hole. I’m not sure what makes me more upset, the fact that Oklahoma held every time and didn’t get called, or the fact that Tennessee’s line didn’t try to hold every time to protect Worley.

    11:51: Great play by Todd Kelly Jr. to break up this wheel to Blake Bell. Kelly nearly comes away with the interception, but is still able to force the incompletion. This is a play that a freshman doesn’t normally make, but Kelly nearly turns it into a turnover. He’s going to be a good one.

    11:01: This is what Corey Vereen can do when no one grabs ahold of his jersey.

    9:06: Great play by Worley to avoid pressure and find Josh Smith. Plays like this are why Oklahoma decided to blitz so much later in the game. Worley showed the ability to escape pressure and keep his eyes downfield, skills that will pay huge dividends in conference play.

    8:52: Worley stands in the pocket and gets crushed to deliver a catchable ball to Jason Croom who just drops it. Jason Croom HAS to make this catch. He is too big and too strong to simply let this one go through his hands. Jason Croom did not have a very good night. *Side Note* – Vols showing the two-back formation here with Jalen Hud and Devrin Young. Expect to see this more moving forward.

    8:06: Again, Worley buys some time against a four-man rush from OU and finds an open man downfield.

    7:45: Worley double clutches on a short pass with the blitz coming from the blind side. This is one that he has to throw into the ground when he sees that Josh Smith is covered to avoid the turnover.

    7:31: Derek Barnett’s stunt runs him right into a double team. Barnett is able to shed the blockers (including one who grabbed his facemask) and catch Knight before he gets through the hole. Very special play by the freshman defensive end.

    4:05: From the looks of it, Coleman Thomas thinks he has outside help from Downs on the defensive end and keeps his ground in case he has to help with the nose tackle. It appears that Downs forgets his responsibility and leaves Thomas all alone and out of position and the defensive end has a clear path to Worley. This is a communication problem that they will have to fix before heading to Athens in two weeks.

    3:13: Oklahoma’s right tackle does exactly that…tackles Corey Vereen to the ground on another blatant hold that goes unflagged by the official. The Vols are still able to stop the ball carrier for a loss on the play.

    2nd quarter

    14:30: This is just the kind of day it was for Tennessee as a tipped pass falls incomplete as Josh Smith can’t corral the ball off of the deflection, whereas later in the game a similar tipped pass is intercepted by Oklahoma and returned 100-yards for a touchdown. Game of inches.

    12:53: Outstanding play by Cam Sutton on third down to force the incompletion. He is just an outstanding football player. Looking ahead at Tennessee’s schedule, there aren’t many teams outside of Alabama that will be able to challenge the Vols’ secondary quite like Oklahoma was in the passing game. So, even though they struggled at times in this game, they learned a lot and should be much improved moving forward.

    11:50: Even though I think he had some questionable calls later in the game, this is an absolutely perfect screen called by Mike Bajakian. OU decides to send seven defenders after the quarterback and Tennessee is able to slip Jalen Hurd through the blitzers for an easy play. I would have liked to see Jalen cut this play back inside instead of running out of bounds, but still a strong play nonetheless as the freshman gets to show off his speed. With a better block by Josh Malone, this is a play that could have gone for a touchdown.

    10:51: The Vols take another shot downfield and Jason Croom is unable to make the play because his arm is being held by the defender. Croom needs to do a better job of selling the foul to the official to draw the penalty.

    10:40: Marquez North breaks three tackles and picks up a first down. He needs to have ten touches a game.

    9:50: I know I’ve hit it a bunch, but Worley’s ability to avoid pressure and step up into the pocket against such a strong pass rush was very impressive. Here, he buys himself some time and finds Josh Smith streaking down the field for the score. Great play by both players.

    9:15: Great play by Owen Williams who just continues to make huge strides at defensive tackle. His development will be absolutely huge for this team in the coming weeks.

    6:00: Tough series for Tennessee as they move the ball a little before eventually stalling out. If the Vols are able to get points here then it completely changes the complexion of the game. Instead, they are forced to punt the ball back to Oklahoma with a little over five minutes left until halftime.

    5:20: You won’t see it often, but Cam Sutton gets beat right here on a huge play for Oklahoma. Sutton is unable to get any contact on Shepard at the line of scrimmage and gives him a free release. Knight drops in a perfect pass and Oklahoma is in business.

    4:18: Oklahoma calls a nice screen to the right side that would have almost certainly been stopped by Cam Sutton before the running back reaches the first down marker, but Sutton is being held by the receiver and is unable to free himself or draw a flag from the official. Another tough break for Tennessee.

    3:57: Perhaps the most blatant hold of the game. Absolutely unbelievable that the Vols didn’t get a call here.

    3:04: Pretty obvious fumble by Oklahoma that wasn’t overturned. Very tough break for the Vols right there as OU would go on to score a touchdown a few plays later.

    3rd quarter

     – First few plays: Dillon Bates is getting some meaningful snaps here. That’s an example of Butch Jones looking for ways to get players like Jalen Reeves-Maybin more rest.

     13:40: Looks like there’s some miscommunication between Justin Coleman and Cam Sutton. Both run with one OU receiver, leaving Durron Neal wide open. LaDarrell McNeil tries to step up and stop it for what would’ve been a manageable gain, but he takes a poor angle (as he has a history of doing) and gets run by for a long gain. Of course, Sutton runs Neal down from the opposite side of the field.

    12:27: This shows what’s so tough about defending Trevor Knight. He runs the zone read beautifully here, freezing Corey Vereen just long enough with the fake to get around the edge for the score. UT played it pretty well, but Knight’s tough on that play. That’s an element Tennessee’s offense doesn’t have much of with Worley at the helm.

    12:19: That horizontal passing game just wasn’t there all night. I understand the idea of trying to extend the running game with those type of passes, but it didn’t work at all against OU.

    10:10: We’ve talked about Tennessee’s multiple looks on D this season and here’s a very true 3-4 for a couple plays with Owen Williams at nose, Vereen and O’Brien at end, Barnett and Maggitt at outside linebacker and Johnson and Reeves-Maybin at inside linebacker.

    9:13: Vols almost block the punt here….they had a few good rushes on special teams.

    8:50: The offensive line rightfully took a lot of blame for the pressure, but this sack is on TE Daniel Helm and RB Marlin Lane. On another note – how crazy is it that the Vols had three true freshmen lined up side-by-side on the right side of the ball at times (Robertson, Thomas, Helm)?

    5:51: Three total timeouts later, the Vols get a big fourth-down stop as Derek Barnett disrupts a little shovel pass. Not a huge play in the grand scheme of the game, but gave the Vols a chance to make it a little more interesting. We’re probably not even talking about the fourth-quarter interception if OU converts here and scores to make it 34-7.

    5:43: Sound familiar? Three true freshmen – this time it’s Robertson, Thomas and Hurd – can’t pick up the OU pressure and Worley is forced to throw it away.

    5:30: Nice heads up play by Reeves-Maybin to grab the punt that was touched by the OU player in coverage. It was a bad, low punt by Darr, but it paid off this time.

    4:28: Worley was actually sacked seven times in the game in total, but this facemask call on OU negates a sack for the second time.

    1:22: Almost blocked another punt. They’ll get one soon if they keep coming like that.

    1:16: Great call here by Mike Bajakian. I didn’t notice this watching live, but the Vols brought Josh Malone in motion and faked that horizontal pass that didn’t work several times, but this time they hand it off to Jalen Hurd going the opposite direction. Nice blocks by Marcus Jackson and Daniel Helm and Hurd takes it for 40+.

    :57: Jalen Hurd in the slot on this play. We saw that and both he and Marlin Lane on the field at the same time, so those were some of the offensive wrinkles revelaed on Saturday.

    :22: I give Worley very little blame on this interception in the end zone. He got Jason Croom one-on-one on Zach Sanchez and throws a ball either could get. Croom has a 6-inch height advantage on him, but doesn’t make the play and doesn’t knock it away either. Big play for OU – tough to fault Worley much there at all.

     4th quarter

    12:55: Another good block from Daniel Helm and the veteran left side of the line – Kerbyson and Jackson do a good job helping Hurd get his second long run in as many drives.

    11:33: Here’s the fateful interception for Tennessee. Worley did a nice job on the previous down running back across field to set up the 3rd and short. Vols go pass here and it obviously doesn’t work out. It’s a three-man route to the wide side of the field and Marquez North finds a soft spot in the OU zone. What Worley doesn’t see is the linebacker (Jordan Evans) sliding towards him. He gets his hand on it and Wilson grabs the deflected ball and does the rest of the work. While Worley was a warrior most of the night, he did give up on that play after the INT. Why does it matter? Wilson almost dropped the ball before he crossed the goal line. Anything can happen. Marquez North, however, did a great job sprinting 100+ yards and almost catching him at the end.

    4:50: Cam Sutton never stops playing. Great hit against Neal here for another third-down stop…something Tennessee was pretty good at doing throughout the game.

    4:12: Great play by A.J. Johnson blocking the field goal. Nothing special here, he just beats his guy to the inside (a huge sin if you’re on the protection team) and gets enough of the ball to force the miss. This is a great example of playing to the final whistle for Tennessee. A few years ago film showed the Vols not trying on an extra-point block late in a blowout against Florida. This team kept battling to the end.

    – Tennessee did a great job on third-down defense, especially later in the game. The Sooners didn’t convert a third down the entire second half