Much to the chagrin of Tennessee fans, after scoring 17 points in the first half the Vols failed to score again until the first overtime period against the Sooners in an epic second half meltdown. Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord blamed the team's struggles on the Sooners increased level of blitzes.
"There's no doubt what happened. They'd given up 17 points in the first half, and they had blitzed us some, but not very much," DeBord said following Tuesday's practice. "And do the second half, it was a blitz-fest. It turned into that. They knew they had to do that, because they couldn't give up more points, so that's what the game turned into."
"When a team blitzes, you have to take advantage of it, and we didn't take advantage of it like we should have. We're working real hard this week versus that, and we're gonna, you know, take advantage of that when it happens again."
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DeBord then echoed the sentiments of head coach Butch Jones from his Monday press conference and blamed poor execution on first and second down, as well as unforced errors that stalled the Volunteer offense.
Oklahoma's adjustment of blitzing and forcing quarterback Joshua Dobbs to beat them from within the pocket paid off so well, DeBord knows SEC teams will mimic that strategy.
"Yeah, people are gonna do that stuff," DeBord said. "That's why we worked hard at it yesterday, and we worked hard at it today. We've got to make people pay. We're preparing like that.
"Obviously it's hard, because we were doing so well early. In the second half, yeah, it was kind of frustrating, 'cause I felt like we were calling the right plays, and some guys just weren't doing their jobs. We've just got to … it's the little things that we're just … gah, we're so close. And we're gonna get it."