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Theater of Operations, Florida Vs. Tennessee: Previewing Tennessee's Passing Attack

The first preview edition of the Theater of Operations series brings you the passing attack of the Tennessee Volunteers in advance of Saturday's Florida-Tennessee contest.

Make no mistake about it. The Tennessee Volunteers have been very successful passing the football so far this season. That still, might be the understatement of the college football season thus far. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray (yes, that one with the tattoo) has thrown for 698 yards and seven touchdowns this year through two games, including a 405-yard performance last Saturday against Cincinnati. (I don't care if the other opponent was Montana.)

Tennessee has maybe the best passing game that the Gators will face this year. They might not have the best talent (they probably do) but they are really at the top of their game passing the football. When you are playing a team that is hot and your secondary has been weak at times, it usually isn't a good omen.

The young Gators secondary is going to have to grow up in a hurry.

(Note: All Tennessee game photos are from the Cincinnati game played on September 10, 2011)

Play No. 1: Take a look at how easy the Tyler Bray throws this thirty-three yard pass for a touchdown:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Tyler Bray operating out of the shotgun formation realizes that the Bearcat defense doesn't have a safety deeps. The safety (standing at the twenty-two yard line) is also in a horrible position to help as well. An offensive formation of four wide-receivers, has it's advantages...

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Just after the snap, and it is already clear where the pass is going to go. The safety, after dropping back five yards in a quick attempt to help cover the bottom receiver (hidden under the score guide) is arguably in an even worse position to help cover Justin Hunter at the top of the screen.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

By the time the ball is in mid-flight, Hunter has about a half yard separation on the defender and the safety is still ten to fifteen yards away. Which is too far away to help out. Touchdown Tennessee. Just like the Kenny Chesney song.

Play No. 2: Tyler Bray's eleven yard touchdown pass to Da'Rick Rogers:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

You'd think that Cincinnati would have this play covered perfectly, but...


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

...the defensive back (highlighted in light blue), completely gets faked out and runs the wrong route for reasons unknown. 


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The result is probably the easiest passing touchdown you'll see the entire season. The safety, once again, chose the wrong route to take yet again.

Play No. 3: Tyler Bray's fifteen yard touchdown pass to Da'Rick Rogers:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Now this one is actually quite impressive. Rogers, lined up in the slot, is just going to run a simple crossing route near the goal-line. The defenders actually play this one about as good as you could expect.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The ball, currently over the six yard line, still has a little further to travel. But, there are two defenders in the area. Granted neither of the defenders are in optimum position, but still, the ball is going to have to in-between them.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The ball makes it between the defenders and is caught by Rogers for an admittedly outstanding catch. How Rogers, who would lose his helmet on the play, manages to catch this ball is beyond me. There are two defenders hanging on him. I would have said luck, but I've seen him make a similar catch more than a couple of times.

Play No. 4: Tyler Bray's sixteen yard touchdown pass to Zach Rogers:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Zach Rogers runs basically the same route (not quite as extreme) as the Da'Rick Rogers play covered above. The inside defender (highlighted in light blue) is actually going to cover Rogers on the play.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Such bad positioning by the defender. He has no chance to keep up with Rogers as he heads to the goal-line.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

No chance. Zach Rogers does make a nifty sliding catch though.

Overall, Tennessee had a great day passing the ball. That is obvious. Especially when looking at how they got it. Two of the touchdowns are the direct result of absolutely horrible defense. The other two are the result of a fantastic throw and probably even better catch, and a decent throw and above average sliding catch.

I find it hard to believe that the Bearcats have a better passing defense than the Gators. I also don't expect the Gators to make as many mistakes that they did either. Cody Riggs, Marcus Roberson, Matt Elam, Moses Jenkins, Jeremy Brown, Josh Evans, and De'Ante "Pop" Saunders are going to have to step up big-time. And the Florida defensive line will have to step up as well; as everyone knows, the best pass defense is a great defensive line. 

But I don't believe that the Vols will have as much success throwing the ball against the Gators as they did against Montana and Cincinnati.