So the defense is unhappy about the job they did against the run in the Missouri game. This isn’t exactly happy talk, but it’s still talk until they do something about it.
“I take that very personally and this defense takes that very personally, Patrick said. “That’s something we pride ourselves on, stopping the run in this defense. Stopping the run is the number one priority. Obviously, those guys had more yards than we would like and that’s definitely something we’re going to put an emphasis on.”
There were some issues that were related to fundamentals, no question. But I still think some of what we saw resulted from an emphasis on denying Lock the deep passing game. Patrick also thinks Monty Rice’s absence played a part.
Rice was back at practice this week and Smart noted that he is moving around quite well. The difference between last week and this one week is noticeable. With him out against Mizzou, Patrick said it forced him to play 50 or 60 staps and he can’t really remember the last time that happened.
With him back in the mix, things should get back to business as usual with that core group of inside linebackers.
“That rotation helps,” Patrick said. “It helps a lot and I’m glad he’s back.”
If Patrick felt a little worn down, it’s understandable. Missouri leads the conference in number of offensive plays run and had 85 snaps against Georgia. The good news for Patrick, aside from Rice’s return, is that the Vols are middle of the pack in that regard. UT did run 79 plays against Florida, but much of that was out of desperation as the game went south. In its three other games, Tennessee never exceeded 70 plays.
The Vols don’t throw the ball a lot. In fact, they have fewer passing attempts this season than does Georgia. You would think that would give Smart and Tucker an opportunity to deploy the safeties in run support more than was the case against Missouri. Between that and the return of a regular rotation at inside linebacker, maybe we’ll get a clearer picture of what Georgia’s run defense is capable of on Saturday.