Fortunately for the Vols, the 6-2, 195-pound sophomore safety has picked up the pace considerably since then. In Game 6 vs. Georgia he registered 7 tackles (including 2 tackles for loss) and a pass breakup. In Game 7 vs. Alabama he contributed 4 solos, an assist, another TFL and another PBU.
Thrust into the starting lineup by the season-ending shoulder injury suffered by Inquoris Johnson in Game 2, Demetrice Morley has been growing into the role with each passing week. He expects to play his best game yet this Saturday night at South Carolina.
“I’m feeling real comfortable,” he said this week. “I’ve been getting help from the older guys in the secondary. (Fellow safety Jonathan) Hefney is like my big brother. When we’re in there together he makes sure I’m on the same page and doing the right thing, so we won’t give up a big play.”
In spite of his imposing physical skills, Morley wasn't ready to contribute significantly when the season began; he was still learning the intricacies of Tennessee's defensive schemes. Now that he has learned some of those lessons there should be no stopping him.
“I’m getting comfortable, getting the speed of the game and learning to read stuff,” he said. “When you do that and the coach puts you in the right position, you make a lot of plays.”
Asked to pinpoint the area in which he has made the most progress, Morley shrugged.
“I feel like I’ve made progress at everything,” he said. “Everything I do I always want to do better. I’m getting better at reading the quarterback, reading the quarterback’s eyes, breaking on the ball, playing the ball in the air.
“There’s a lot of things I’ve been working on. It’s not just one thing. That’s how I’ve evolved into being a better player.”