Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

September 12, 2013

Vols hope turnovers continue against No. 2 Oregon

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The difference in Tennessee's defense this season has been the Volunteers making big plays instead of allowing them.

Tennessee (2-0) has nine takeaways to match Tulane for the most among Football Bowl Subdivision teams. The Volunteers forced seven turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns last week in a 52-20 victory over Western Kentucky.

This represents a clear change for a defense that produced only 17 turnovers last season, when the Vols gave up the most points (35.7) and yards (471.4) per game of any Southeastern Conference team. But it shouldn't come as a surprise. New Tennessee coach Butch Jones has made forcing turnovers a priority throughout his career.

"A couple of years ago, we really didn't work on it as much,'' said linebacker Brent Brewer, who forced a fumble and picked off a pass against Western Kentucky. "Here, that's what (Jones) preaches, and we live by it.''

Tennessee probably must continue its ball-hawking ways Saturday to have a shot at pulling an upset Saturday at No. 2 Oregon, a 27 1/2-point favorite. Oregon (2-0) hasn't turned the ball over this season and knows Tennessee's reputation for producing takeaways.

"They're big and athletic guys, typical of an SEC defense,'' Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota said. "They're going to come out and play hard. They created six or seven turnovers in their last game against Western Kentucky. We have to really focus on making sure we take care of the ball.''

Nobody's taken care of the ball against Tennessee so far, just as Big East teams struggled to avoid turnovers against Jones' Cincinnati teams.

Jones' teams have produced 70 turnovers since the start of the 2011 season. Purdue's Darrell Hazell and Colorado's Mike MacIntyre are the only FBS coaches whose teams have caused more turnovers during that stretch. Before this season, Hazell was coaching Kent State and MacIntyre was at San Jose State.

"It's a standard by which we live each and every day,'' Jones said. "You have to coach it. You have to teach it every single day.''

That work paid off last week, as Western Kentucky turned the ball over five times in a span of six snaps during the first quarter. Cornerbacks Justin Coleman and Cameron Sutton returned interceptions for touchdowns. Safety Brian Randolph had two interceptions and became Tennessee's first SEC defensive player of the week since 2008.

"We actually have our own period during practice where we just work on stripping the ball, picking it up, scooping and scoring,'' Randolph said. "It's a big emphasis.''

That emphasis has included playing videotapes showing the various methods players use to force turnovers. For instance, Jones frequently shows a video of players using what he calls the "lawnmower'' move by reaching toward the ball and then pulling their arm backward to force a fumble.

"How you crank up a lawnmower, that's the same motion you strip a ball with,'' linebacker Dontavis Sapp said.

Sure enough, when a trio of Tennessee defenders swarmed Western Kentucky running back Keshawn Simpson last week, Sapp utilized that technique to cause a fumble. Jones called it a "textbook'' example of the lawnmower move and said he plans to include that play in future videos showcasing the proper way to force turnovers.

Jones hopes his team produces more highlight-worthy takeaways Saturday.

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0344web.jpg ‘Lucky 7’ comes through in the 3rd

    Over the course of his four-year baseball career at Verdigris High School, third baseman Ryan Skalnik has had his share of memorable at-bats.
    None more important than Tuesday’s appearance in the Large School East-West All-State Game at J.L. Johnson Stadium in Tulsa.
    Skalnik, who was the lone senior this season for Verdigris and a four-time Class 3A state champion, thrived under pressure in the top of the third inning for the East.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • BASEBALL: Larue, Skalnik power East to 3-0 victory

    The East blanked the West 3-0 in the Large School All-State Baseball Game Tuesday night at J. L. Johnson Stadium on the campus of Oral Roberts University.
    Claremore catcher Matt Whatley and third baseman Ryan Skalnik of Verdigris represented Rogers County in the contest.
    Skalnik finished 1-for-3 with a pair of RBI's.  Whatley was 0-for-1 with a walk.

    July 30, 2014

  • FISHFRYweb.jpg Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2

    The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sooners introduce mobile ticket delivery

    Sooners fans can now choose mobile delivery of their tickets for University of Oklahoma Athletics events. This new option for 2014 allows fans to present their mobile tickets on their smartphones at the entrance of OU Athletics facilities.

    August 1, 2014

  • Rick Cooper 'perfect AD hire' for Wayland Baptist

    Some of the best years of Rick Cooper's life were spent at Wayland Baptist University and in Plainview. Now, he's back for more.
    Cooper, who played and coached basketball at Wayland for 15 years before spending the last 20 years as head men's basketball coach at West Texas A&M University, is the new director of athletics at his alma mater.

    August 1, 2014

  • OCU's Abbott tabbed SAC Athletic Director of the Year

    Jim Abbott of Oklahoma City University has been selected Sooner Athletic Conference athletic director of the year.

    August 1, 2014

  • Matthews named Southwestern Christian women's basketball coach

    Darrick Matthews has been named head women's basketball coach at Southwestern Christian University.
    Matthews previously served as a men's basketball assistant and junior varsity coach at Southwestern Christian. Matthews also serves as a professor of sports management at SCU.

    August 1, 2014

  • Sooner Athletic Conference names new information director

    Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) Commissioner John Hudson has announced that veteran sports information director Justin Tinder will serve as the new media Information director for the 10-member NAIA conference.

    August 1, 2014

  • Ex-Hog standout Scotty Thurman joins Razorback Sports Network

    Former Arkansas Razorback Scotty Thurman is joining the Razorback Sports Network as a color analyst for Arkansas men's basketball games this season.

    August 1, 2014

  • WNBA: Hayes sparks Dream past Shock, 85-75

    Tiffany Hayes scored a career-high 27 points, Angel McCoughtry added 21 and Erika DeSouza had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Atlanta Dream to a 85-75 victory over Tulsa on Thursday night.

    August 1, 2014