Come on down: OC Hel­ton calls plays on side­line for Vols

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - SPORTS - BY DAVID COBB STAFF WRITER

AUBURN, Ala. — Ten­nessee of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Tyson Hel­ton called plays from a new van­tage point in the Vol­un­teers’ 30-24 win at No. 21 Auburn on Satur­day.

Hel­ton, who spent Ten­nessee’s first five games in the press box, worked from the side­line against the Tigers (4-3, 1-3 South­east­ern Con­fer­ence).

The Vol­un­teers (3-3, 1-2) hap­pened to post their best of­fen­sive per­for­mance of the sea­son.

“I think it def­i­nitely made a big dif­fer­ence,” red­shirt sopho­more quar­ter­back Jar­rett Guar­an­tano said. “We were able to get a gauge on what he was feel­ing. I think that’s go­ing to con­tinue fur­ther.”

Guar­an­tano threw for a ca­reer-high 328 yards. He tossed two touch­down passes and did not turn the ball over in his first SEC win as a start­ing quar­ter­back.

Head coach Jeremy Pruitt said he thought it was im­por­tant for Hel­ton to be on the field so he could be closer to Guar­an­tano.

“I think it’s eas­ier to call the game from the press box,” Pruitt said. “I do. My whole life I (worked) in the press box call­ing the de­fense. But there comes a point in time when you need to be able to look the peo­ple on the side­lines in the eyes, and you get a lot bet­ter feel.”

Ten­nessee strug­gled to run the foot­ball but av­er­aged 15.6 yards per com­ple­tion while dis­tribut­ing the foot­ball to nine re­ceivers.

“The quar­ter­back po­si­tion, the ball goes through his hands on every snap,” Pruitt said. “So it’s im­por­tant that he make re­ally good de­ci­sions, that he un­der­stands and he’s in con­trol. So I think it’s some­thing that helped us to­day (hav­ing Hel­ton on the side­line). I think it helped us just in side­line or­ga­ni­za­tion. I think it was a big move for our staff.”

shuf­fling around

Pruitt thought se­nior safety Micah Aber­nathy would be able to play, even though he was lim­ited dur­ing prac­tices this past week with an an­kle in­jury. Aber­nathy could not play af­ter all.

The un­ex­pected ab­sence al­lowed sopho­more de­fen­sive back Shawn Sham­burger to gain his most ex­ten­sive play­ing time of the sea­son at safety. Re­serve de­fen­sive back Mar­quill Os­borne also played ex­ten­sively in the sec­ond half.

“I think it says a lot about our play­ers’ will­ing­ness to learn and learn mul­ti­ple spots so we can plug guys in,” Pruitt said.

Ju­nior Baylen Buchanan started at the nickel (fifth de­fen­sive back) po­si­tion, which lines up against in­side re­ceivers, af­ter play­ing mostly as a perime­ter cor­ner­back this sea­son. Later in the game, he moved to the sixth de­fen­sive back slot. Pruitt said Buchanan had not prac­ticed that po­si­tion at all this past week.

“It talks about what a good job (cor­ner­backs coach) Terry (Fair) and (safeties coach) Charles (Kelly) have done teach­ing those guys,” Pruitt said.

in­jury re­port

Se­nior de­fen­sive end Jonathan Kongbo left the game in the third quar­ter and did not re­turn. He was us­ing crutches on the side­line and ap­peared to be wear­ing a brace on his right knee. Of­fen­sive line­man Jah­mir John­son left the game in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Red­shirt sopho­more Nathan Niehaus started in place of Jerome Carvin at right guard, but Carvin en­tered the game when John­son was in­jured.

Con­tact David Cobb at d cobb @times free press.

PHOTO BY PA­TRICK MUR­PHY-RACEY

Auburn de­fen­sive tackle Der­rick Brown gets in Ten­nessee quar­ter­back Jar­rett Guar­an­tano’s face dur­ing the first half Satur­day at Jor­dan-Hare Sta­dium.

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