A 35-21 win over North Carolina State may appear to be a good way to start the season, but to coaches and players, no game ever goes exactly as planned.
While overall play against N.C. State on Friday was successful, improvement is needed as Georgia State comes to town Saturday. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said the team is looking for big plays.
"When you make big plays they result in points," said Chaney after practice Wednesday. "Big plays are incredibly important."
Tennessee's secondary requires more consistency as well. Early on in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game last Friday, the secondary was gashed by throws down the field as the Wolfpack managed to complete passes of 49, 28, 31 and 38 yards in the first half. But the secondary came to life in the second half, allowing only 79 passing yards through the second half and reeling in four interceptions against N.C. State starting quarterback Mike Glennon.
"The problem was not what N.C. State did, it's what we did, we knew that going into the game, everything they got was going to be because we either let them get it or we made a mistake," cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley said. "I thought we did a good job of settling those guys down on the sidelines, making the proper adjustments, getting the communication back to where it needed to be, and everybody playing on the same page."
A recurring theme throughout all of the offensive coaches' comments was that the team needed to improve on its blocking. Offensive line coach Sam Pittman said the team's technique needs improvement.
"We have to get better at blocking, our technique wasn't as good, I thought their movement bothered us," Pittman said.
Chaney said he was not impressed with the team's blocking. He said perimeter, running backs in protections, tight ends on perimeter blocks, and line on tight zones were all areas that needed improvement.
"We blocked them, but we didn't block them the way we would like to block, so it's been a point of emphasis all this week for us to increase our fundamentals of blocking," said Chaney.
The Vols gave up 119 rushing yards on 32 attempts (3.7 yards per attempt). Sophomore defensive back Brian Randolph said he's most concerned with defending players from Georgia State's offense.
"We've seen that they have a couple of good skill players," Randolph said. "We have to watch out for them because they can make big plays at any time. We just have to make sure that we don't take them lightly."