As the Tennessee defense finished off its 45-0 rout of Austin Peay Saturday evening, an impressive list of accomplishments began to mount.
The Vols first penalty-free game since 2007, the least amount of total yards given up since 2010 and the unit's first shutout since 2011.
One achievement, however, was nowhere to be found.
A completely-satisfied coach.
"For the most part I thought it was a clean game, but nobody at all in our football program should be satisfied with their performance," head coach Butch Jones said during Monday's weekly press conference. "We have a long ways to go. We have a lot of work to do. As we continue to move forward, I said after game one I'd have a little better idea of where we're at as a football team and I do know where we need to move on and where we need to improve.
"I think it gets back to all of our players being accountable and understanding what it really takes to play winning football and the commitment level required to play winning football."
Secondary keeps growing
While Jones acknowledged the fierce competitiveness he saw in the freshmen defensive backs, he quickly pointed out their numerous "eye violations" throughout Saturday's game as well as the challenge that comes with facing Bobby Petrino's Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
"The thing that I wasn't particularly fond of or we need to make great strides is our eye discipline," Jones said. "We had way too many what we call eye violations. You know, peaking in the backfield, you know, reading the eyes of the quarterback instead of – see a little, see a lot.
"(The freshmen defensive backs) are going to continue to be a work in progress. They are freshmen. They are going to get challenged Saturday afternoon. They know that and we understand that."
Like Jones, safety Byron Moore recognized the step up in competition, noting that a Petrino offense consists of "a lot of tricky stuff." However, the senior from Carson, Calif. expressed his full confidence in the team's first-year cornerbacks' ability to deliver on the bigger stage.
"They know they got the target on their back," Moore said. "They welcome the challenge. That is one thing I like about them, they are not backing down. They are willing to step up and be on that island out there."
"We will go as well as they go"
A common theme throughout the summer and fall camp has been the importance of defensive line play – particularly that of nose tackles Maurice Couch, Daniel Hood and Dan McCullers. All three flexed their muscles Saturday against the Governors, combining for five tackles – two for loss – one sack and an interception, but Jones again stressed how crucial their roles—specifically Couch's— are.
"(Couch, Hood and McCullers' success) is critical," Jones said. "We will go as well as they go. They were disruptive in the middle. They made some good plays.
"I think Mo Couch has to continue to progress with his conditioning levels and be able to give us valuable reps."
Jones added that a cohesive defensive line will directly create more "opportunity for team sacks," a term used to describe the end result of multiple individuals working together for a quarterback takedown.
"Very rarely do you just flat out beat your man," Jones said. "There is team sacks. What do we mean by that? It means the defensive end doing his job, forcing the quarterback to push the pocket. It is the nose guard getting a great inside, internal push upfront and because the quarterback is pushed to the back side, (the) end spins into (the quarterback) and gets a sack.
"That is an opportunity sack because everyone else is doing their job."
A Familiar Face
Two seasons ago, UT traveled west to take on Petrino and then-No. 8 ranked Arkansas, a game that ended in a 49-7 drubbing of the Volunteers. While former Razorback stars Tyler Wilson, Jarius Wright and Joe Adams won't be suiting up for Saturday's contest, members of UT's current defense who played in that 2011 matchup still vividly recall the intricacies of a Petrino offense.
"The thing I remember most is the routes. They had a lot of pick routes," said sophomore safety Brian Randolph. "...They like to run the ball too. They like to mix in some runs in there. It's just a really balanced offense. I think we just have to do a good job all week of preparing.
It's nothing that we can't handle, so I think we're just going to game plan for it and we're going to get it done."
Jones said Monday that defensive end Jacques Smith (thumb) and linebacker Curt Maggitt (knee) will be evaluated "throughout this week at practice" and their status for Saturday will be decided "as the week progresses."