September 29, 2008

Etheridge plays big despite injury

Defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads described it simply as playing big.

With a bruised left shoulder and missing much of last week's practice, Zac Etheridge answered the bell last Saturday, finishing second on the team with six tackles against Tennessee.

Etheridge's biggest play on defense came in the first quarter when he nailed UT receiver Gerald Jones for a 6-yard loss on a reverse.

"His responsibility was taking them to the right and he saw the guard pulling out of there to lead the reverse and he adjusted and came back with it," Rhoads explained. "He was a General to that secondary. We had a bunch of what we refer to as bunch sets, where they take all the receivers and put them down. We had to adjust things to that. We didn't miss any of those adjustments.

"The one-back motion was something they really hadn't shown a lot out of and we had to adjust to that. That kind of leadership as well as the physical play he brings week in and week out are very important to our play right now."

Etheridge wore some extra padding to protect his shoulder but he still felt the pain on every hit. He wasn't about to take a play off, however.

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