Tennessee Volunteers

Report: NC State’s Matt Canada receives extension, Vols still searching for OC

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The grass isn’t always greener in the SEC.

North Carolina State offensive coordinator Matt Canada was among three finalists to replace Mike Bajakian as the Tennessee Volunteers next offensive player-caller.

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported that Canada pulled his name out of consideration Thursday.

The reason behind Canada’s decision was simple. North Carolina State decided to extend a new contract, according to SI.com’s Pete Thamel.

With Canada out of the conversation, the Volunteers will likely concentrate on three candidates to become their next offensive coordinator. A report surfaced earlier Thursday that UCLA’s Noel Mazzone, USC’s Clay Helton and former Michigan coordinator Mike DeBord interviewed for the position.

Scout.com’s UCLA affiliate, Bruin Report Online, reported Mazzone didn’t interview with the Volunteers, though.

If the latter report is correct then Helton and DeBord remain in consideration. Helton is the likely the favorite since DeBord hasn’t been on the sidelines for two years nor called plays since 2006.

North Carolina State, meanwhile, retains an innovative play-caller. During his two seasons with the Wolfpack, Canada’s offense averages 406.12 yards per game.

Former four-star recruit will transfer from Tennessee to Maryland

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After a year in Knoxville, Tennessee, cornerback D’Andre Payne decided he wanted to play closer to home.

The Washington D.C. native announced on Twitter that he will transfer and become a member of Randy Edsall‘s Maryland Terrapins.

As a freshman, Payne played in eight games and registered four tackles.

Prior to arriving in Knoxville, the defensive back was considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and held over 30 scholarship offers.

Payne will have to sit out the 2015 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules, but he should be in position to compete for a starting job with Alvin Hill and Undray Clark graduating after the season.

‘No indications’ QB Nathan Peterman will transfer from Tennessee

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Nathan Peterman, a four-star recruit in the 2012 class, was supposed to be the future of Tennessee Volunteers football. At the very least, the Fruit Cove, Florida, native was expected to push for a starting position. Instead, the talented signal-caller was never able to work his way into a permanent spot in the lineup during his previous three seasons in Knoxville.

When a highly-regarded recruit doesn’t live up to expectations, conversations regarding whether or not he should transfer inevitably take place. However, Peterson, who only started two games during the past two seasons, isn’t expected to transfer, according to Tennessee’s offensive coordinator.

“Nate and I talk all the time,” Mike Bajakian said in an interview with Josh Ward and Will West of The Sports Animal, via the Knoxville News. “He is a part of our program. He is a part of our team. He’s done a great job in his role. Again. I can’t say enough good things about Nathan Peterman. Just his level of preparation, his knowledge of the offense. He works really hard and is a great presence among his teammates and a great example of how to prepare yourself on the field and how to act off the field.”

If the redshirt junior stays, he’ll inevitably be stuck behind a burgeoning star in sophomore Josh Dobbs.

Dobbs took the reigns of the offense after Peterman’s only start of the season and never looked back. The dual-threat quarterback threw for 1,206 yards and ran for 469 more in only six games.

“Josh, for the first time, is in a position where he’s going into the offseason and next season as the apparent starter and can really take ownership of this team and lead it,” Bajakian said.

Peterman may not have given his coach any indication he will transfer, but he just might want to consider it.

Road warriors: Missouri holds on against Tennessee, stays atop SEC East

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It didn’t come easy, but the No. 20 Missouri Tigers edged the Tennessee Volunteers 29-21 in Knoxville.

Gary Pinkel‘s squad has proven to be road warriors over the past two seasons, as they attempt to win a second SEC East title in consecutive years.

When the Tigers joined the SEC two years ago, they were considered an inferior program compared to the Texas A&M Aggies, who joined the league during the same season. Yet the Tigers have proven over the long haul they have what it takes to consistently win in college football’s toughest conference.

Even when Misssouri’s explosive spread offense isn’t firing on all cylinders — and it wasn’t Saturday against Tennessee — the team is now built to still win games.

Strong defense, a solid running game and good coaching always travel well. Missouri has all three.

Quarterback Maty Mauk continues to be erratic. The sophomore signal-caller was 12-of-25 passing, but he finally exploited Tennessee’s secondary in the fourth quarter. At that time, Missouri’s wide receivers began to win one-on-one matchups.

Jimmie Hunt and Bud Sasser were frustrated by Tennessee most of the contest. However, Mauk found both for a touchdown passes in the final frame. Hunt was the game’s leading receiver with 106 yards on three catches.

But what kept Missouri in the game initially was its ability to run the football and apply pressure on Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs. The Tigers gained 184 yards on the ground, while the Volunteers only managed 53 yards.

The strong defensive effort by Missouri is due to owning one of the best defensive lines in college football. Defensive ends Shane Ray and Markus Golden are as good as any duo in the nation. Golden was particularly disruptive Saturday evening.

Those defensive linemen will have to step up next week against the Arkansas Razorbacks’ overwhelming offensive line and rushing attack. The Razorbacks have won two straight games by the score of 47-0 against ranked SEC West opponents. They’re going to bring a different mentality than Tennessee did.

One more win is all Missouri needs to win the SEC East and play in the SEC Championship Game again. Like the Tennessee contest, it won’t come easy.

No. 20 Missouri tied 13-13 with Tennessee as SEC East hangs in the balance

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The No. 20 Missouri Tigers control their destiny. If they win out then they will claim an SEC East crown and a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

Tennessee apparently didn’t get the message.

Butch Jones‘ squad has given Missouri everything it can handle through two quarters of play. The two teams are tied 13-13 at halftime.

Neither team has been particularly sharp on offense, but Missouri has an edge in yardage with 181 total yards. The Volunteers only mustered 126 yards, and 31 of those came courtesy of a fake field goal.

Tennessee required a little trickeration to reach the end zone against Missouri’s vaunted defense. Backup quarterback and holder Patrick Ashford found tight end Alex Ellis racing down the field for the Volunteers only touchdown of the half (see: below).

Otherwise, Missouri’s talented defensive front has applied consistent pressure on Volunteers quarterback Josh Dobbs. The SEC’s sack leader, Shane Ray, already registered a pair of sacks in the first half.

“We have to continue to mix it up,” Jones told ESPN at halftime. “They’re a very, very disruptive front. So, we have to stay ahead of the sticks. A lot of the sacks have come on third-and-long situations.”

Running back Marcus Murphy proved to be the catalyst for the Tigers offense. While Russell Hansbrough led Missouri with 46 rushing yards, Murphy found the end zone twice. A missed extra point is the only reason the game remains tied.

As the two teams prepare for the second half, Missouri’s coaching staff needs to get quarterback Maty Mauk into a rhythm. The sophomore signal-caller was only 6-of-15 passing.

Tennessee, meanwhile, should continue to leave everything on the field and continue to dig deep into the team’s playbook.