KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee will start its fourth different combination of players in its secondary in as many games on Saturday at Georgia.
Vols défensive coordinator Bob Shoop didn’t waffled when asked who his cornerbacks would be on Wednesday, revealing that true freshman Baylen Buchanan will make his first career start against his home state school opposite of Emmanuel Moseley.
“We’re going to start with 28 (Buchanan) and 12 (Moseley),’” said Shoop whose defense forced Florida’s offense to go three-and-out on seven of eight second-half possessions in the Vols’ 38-28 win over the Gators on Saturday.
Junior Justin Martin is the odd man out of the starting rotation after getting beat on deep ball passes of 51 and 43 yards in the first quarter of the Florida game.
“We’ve had 285 snaps, 273 have been darn good, and 12 have been really bad snaps, and those 12 plays have accounted for a significant amount of yardage,” Shoop said. “It’s been three (big plays) a game, and if we eliminate those three bad snaps a game we’ve got a pretty good unit out there.
“Baylen has played well, Emmanuel played well last week … and we moved (nickleback) Malik Foreman back at corner a little bit this week, too, so there’s some different things we’re doing to get the right people on the field.”
Buchanan, from Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Ga., is the son of 12-year NFL defensive back Ray Buchanan, a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Indianapolis Colts and the Atlanta Falcons.
The No. 11-ranked Vols (4-0 1-0 SEC) play the No. 25-ranked Bulldogs (3-1 1-1) in a key SEC East Division battle at Sanford Stadium at 3:30 p.m. (TV: CBS).
The Tennessee secondary shuffle began against Ohio, when Foreman was suspended for a violation of team rules and Rashaan Gaulden started in his place at nickle.
Preseason All-SEC cornerback Cam Sutton suffered a fractured ankle in that Sept. 17 game, forcing the lineup change for the Gators.
Shoop said he talked to the athletic Martin about moving him out of the starting lineup, and used safety Todd Kelly Jr. as an example of how a player can improve from one week to the next.
“One of the cool things about sports, is when guys persevere,” said Shoop, once a standout athlete himself, letting in football and baseball at Yale. “Todd Kelly didn’t have a great game against Ohio and he came out and had maybe his best game as a Tennessee Vol this week, he had an interception and played the run really, really well.
“I talked to Justin about that. Being a corner in today’s game is all about being long on confidence and short on memory, you correct the mistakes.”