Vandy has experience edge on offensive line

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Vanderbilt's offensive line has been around the block once or twice.

Or 151 times.

That's how many combined starts the Commodores' front five has entering Saturday's game against Tennessee.

Vanderbilt has started the same five in all 10 of its games this season.

"Most of them are guys that started or played a lot against us last year," UT defensive coordinator John Chavis said. "I think they got five seniors across the board. They're as well-coached as anyone in the league."

Left tackle Chris Williams has 31 consecutive starts, and right guard Matt Kirchoffer has the fewest total starts with 20.

For comparison, UT has only one player with more than 20 career starts - left guard Anthony Parker (23 ) - since losing left tackle Eric Young for the season to a torn quadriceps tendon during the South Carolina game.

Still, the Vols have not allowed a sack the last two weeks since Chris Scott took over for Young at left tackle and Jacques McClendon moved into a starting role at right guard.

"I think he's got some confidence, but I think quite obviously it's helped him because he played early in the year, played meaningful snaps," UT offensive line coach Greg Adkins said of Scott. "The game has 'slowed down' for him."

And while Tennessee's line doesn't have the starting experience that Vanderbilt's does, it has plenty of versatility.

Adkins made that a priority when he took over as the Vols' line coach for the 2003 season.

"I think it goes back to a couple years ago when I took over, we were going to try to be a lighter, more athletic group," Adkins said. "The more of those (versatile) guys and the more times you're able to do that, the better off you're going to be when things happen with an injury or somebody may not be playing well. To help your football team be the best it can be, you've got to have those guys."

Adkins and the Vols get all five of their starters back next year, as well as key reserves Ramone Johnson and Vladimir Richard.

"Certainly that's a comforting thing," Adkins said, "knowing you'll have all the guys playing meaningful snaps back."

Visitors: Tennessee is expecting two official visitors this weekend: 6-foot-6, 300-pound guard Kenneth Page (Columbia, S.C.) and 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker Austin Johnson (Hickory, N.C.).

Johnson committed to the Vols in September.

UT didn't expect to host any visitors this weekend until Page's schedule allowed.

He is widely considered one of the best offensive line prospects in the Southeast.

T.O.'s, Baby: In its last three games Tennessee has forced nine turnovers, the exact number it did in its previous seven games combined.

"Everyone is just having a lot more confidence going to the ball," linebacker Ryan Karl said.

That certainly includes a maturing secondary, which includes three first-time starters.

Tennessee had five interceptions in its first seven games. In the last three, the Vols have seven picks.

"Our DB's are becoming ball hawks," Karl said.

Teammates: Four Vols will see former high school teammates in Vanderbilt uniforms Saturday.

Only defensive tackle Chase Nelson (Tulsa, Okla.), cornerback Marsalous Johnson (Smyrna) and tight end David Holbert (Brentwood Academy) won't be facing their former prep teammates.

All three are out for the year with injuries.

Steven Jones (Brentwood) is the only one of the four who is healthy for Saturday's game.

Dave Hooker contributed to this report.

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached

at 865-342-6274.

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Comments » 21

RangerForSix writes:

I heard the 'Vandy QB's' are really beat up, or 'injured' or something. What's up with that situation?

Let's spread them out and run and pass. We must be unpredictable, ESPECIALLY after the 'last two scouting reports' are opponents got from those game plans...

You can be 'aggressive' and 'still run the football' a bunch!

"Peyton did just that, last year in the NFL."
Instead of the BS, BCS, he went out and 'EARNED ONE', not because of ABSURD partisan voting.








"Money, it's a hit. Don't give me that do-goody good bul*sh*t!" Pink Floyd pretty much sums it up!

bluetickhound writes:

Wow. Since when did we let Zack De La Rosa start posting on this message board?

TopperVol75 writes:

I will compare our O line with Vandy's anytime!! How many sacks have we allowed this year with a "not so mobile" QB? And, oh yeah, we have Josh "Superman" McNeil who can score at will on his own!! GO VOLS!!!

alfrizzle097 writes:

Sorry folks, but no matter what lip service they give us, there is not going to be a playoff anytime soon.

It has nothing to do with injuries or class missed (basketball misses much more time). The fact of the matter is that right now the money goes to some 60 odd teams. In a playoff system there would almost be guaranteed to be some kind of 120 way split with extra shares going to competitors. There would be payoffs somewhere in the range of minor bowls with even Arkansas State and Memphis getting a cut. Not going to happen as long as the NCAA doesn't want to go up against the SEC, Big 10, etc.

Ideally I like the Idea of a ten team playoff. Six BCS conference champions and four at large bids, two of which are guaranteed to any non BCS schools in the top 25. Only conference champions are eligible to be nonwild card teams. Four teams play a wild card game and then go to an eight team format from there. See NFL...... It works.

rootin4volz writes:

Hey Drew and Hooker...I think you'd be more clear with the following grammatical tweak (in ALL CAPS):

"Four Vols will see former high school teammates in Vanderbilt uniforms Saturday.

HOWEVER, defensive tackle Chase Nelson (Tulsa, Okla.), cornerback Marsalous Johnson (Smyrna) and tight end David Holbert (Brentwood Academy) won't be facing their former prep teammates."

I know you can't help it, Dave...You went to Powell High School. What's up with you, Drew?

chefjorge writes:

It's odd that some of the writers here (not forum posters-we're not paid for our writing ability, so who cares) aren't able to divide an article into more than one big block of text and others can't create longer than one sentence paragraphs. I mean, I'm ADD and all that, but this is ridiculous.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Experience edge to Vandy, huh! Ainge is usually as safe as a man in a bank vault back there! Vandy blitzes a lot, so be prepared! We should win this one by 20-25 points if we play! If not, death struggle! Go Vols, then think about the Cats! Ga should beat them up today! Can't wait to see the monumental LSU-Ole Mess struggle! Go Vols!

mtnvol writes:

Possible slogans for Peabody College, spoken by someone with a severe underbite and bad British accent:

Vanderbilt...home of the pompous a$$es.

Vanderbilt....we couldn't get into Duke...or Standford...or Emory....or the Ivy League.

Vanderbilt...taking beatings for everyone else's bowl money.

Vanderbilt...bloated with self importance.

Vanderbilt...poorly spending daddy's money.

Vanderbilt...No one wants us to leave the SEC.

Vanderbilt...Homecoming game for MTSU.

Chainsaw writes:

Chefjorge, you are so on target with that comment. These guys are supposed to be sports WRITERS. Maybe KNS should send them to some remedial writing classes or something.

DennisVols writes:

Vandy leads the SEC in sacks. UT will need to establish the run, set up screens using brown and Foster out of the backfield. This will slow down the rush and allow Ainge to go downfield with the ball to Taylor and Rogers.
Teams that record alot of sacks have a habit of giving up yardage on the run once a back breaks through that line. Foster and Hardesty are powerful and can out run the Vandy secondary.
Vols win big on senior day

BigManVolFan writes:

Our team is clicking at the right time guys...A win this week and a win next week and we are heading to hot-lana! I dont know why the KNS people are building this game up for? I know its a confrence game, but come on it's Vandy? They dont have a Jay Cutler at QB. Their best offensive threat is at WR in Earl Bennett...Without a QB to throw it to him, he is pretty much useless....Tennessee wins big 45-7!

CoverOrange writes:

I thought Adkins took over the line after the year that wasn't, 2005 when Stephens and Washington were let go.

dlskaggs, great idea to run screens, I just wish we ran one properly. Seems like the opposing defenses know when it is coming.

CoverOrange writes:

Alfrizzle, I would like to add that most athletic departments lose money. With football usually being the breadwinner, going to a playoff would not help the smaller schools and might even be a knife in their backs. The reason for the 12th game being added a couple of years ago was to provide additional revenue to those programs in the red.

I don't agree with your playoff idea though, because, what is the definition of a BCS conference? If the Big10 continues to be the Bigone or two, should they continue to be a BCS conference? What mechanism would be in place to allow the current non-BCS conferences to become BCS conferences if they get good enough?

SoLoBo writes:

Just because Vanderbilt's line is experienced doesn't mean they're any good.

BigManVolFan writes: made some good points....I personally would like to see the BCS make it mandatory for all BCS confrences have 12 teams and have a confrence championship game...You look at the Big Ten....There could be a two teams go undefeated in confrence play...How do you determine who is the confrence champ? The only confrence that would have a problem adding teams to make 12, would be the Big East...Or the Pac 10...But the Big East could add teams like Marshall, or a Miami of Ohio type teams...Neither teams would be much competition for a few years, but it would give them a chance for some upsets!

The Pac 10 could add Hawaii or Utah, or even Boise St...The Big Ten could possibly try to get Notre Dame to join the confrence...It would be a long shot, but it would be worth a try.If they could get ND to join, look at what would come with ND...ND has a contract with NBC for televised games...The History, and would generate more revenue for the confrence than most teams in the confrence do now. Or add a C. Michigan or W. Michigan. Yes, they are both below the talent level at most schools but look at what Appy St. did with their kids! And there a Div. 1-AA school.

I just think it would benefit college football and better define the BCS if all BCS confrences had 12 teams and a confrence championship game. This way all BCS bowl tie-ins would be won outright.

BOASoldier writes:

I don't think any team will be a "walk through" this year... Especially Vandy. From past posts this year I have noticed that when everyone says it's going to be an easy game to win. UT usually chokes and sqeaks bye or gets blown out. I believe we will win this game, but I don't think it will be a cake walk unless the VOLS bring the "D" that faced Arkansas and Georgia.. I hope it's a blow out to build our confidence before the UK game. Go VOLS. One opponent at a time then we'll see where we are in two weeks.

DennisVols writes:

The way it used to be is over in college football. Last night #2 Oregon played an unranked team and walked out knowing their shot at a National Championship was over. “One game one championship.” This is the playoff system in the BCS division. UT’s shot at a national championship ended with their 2nd loss of the season to Florida, their shot at an SEC championship appeared over after the loss to Bama. Now here we are with 2 games remaining and UT is still in control of winning the Eastern division of the SEC. The opportunity has come because of 2 factors. Those who were in front of them failed to take care of business when they had the opportunity to do so, and UT has stepped up its game and won 6 of 7 games since the loss to UF.
Twice UT was beaten down, once by UF and then by long time rival Bama. On both occasions UT showed something few felt they had. Both times this team pulled its self up and came back to win. Over the past 7 games a UT defense that was hurt by youth and injuries, was once ranked last in the SEC as a scoring defense, now has the lowest scoring defense over those 7 games compared to LSU, Bama, UF, UGA, USC.
UT’s scoring offense ranks 2nd to only LSU (36.57ppg to 36.14ppg).* Now we come to the Vandy game. No one is a “gimmie game”, a “cupcake” any more. The SEC has either feasted on or been feasted on by each other this year. UT beats UGA & USC, UGA beats UF & Bama, UT loses to UF & Bama and so on.
One game one championship is what is in front of UT. Handle their opponents and they go to ATL on Dec. 1st to face LSU. They have the same opportunity they had 10 games ago to win the east and get their first SEC title since ’98. No game this season is bigger than Saturday’s game against Vandy. If they win then no game will be bigger than the one next Saturday against UK.
This is a test, a test of talent, mental fortitude, and preparedness by the coaching staff and players.
*See my blog for more on this and leave your comments

Go VOLS!!!!!!!!!!

Volunatic writes:

If Vanderbilt's O-line experience is an "edge", then why is their defense generally mentioned as the Commodores' strength?
GO VOLS!!! Beat Vanderbilt!

GreenbackMike writes:

Great Post DLskaggs

DennisVols writes:

The Most Important Game Of The Year
The way it used to be is over in college football is over now. Tradition no longer wins games. Ask a N.D. fan about that. Last night #2 Oregon played an unranked team and walked out knowing their shot at a National Championship was over. This was the 5th time this year that #2 in the country lost to a lesser or un-ranked team. “One game one championship.” This is the playoff system in the BCS division.
Week 5: #3 OU loses, #4 UF loses, #5 WVA loses. Two of those losses came to UN-Ranked teams
Week 6: #2 USC loses, #5 Wisc. Loses. Both to UN-Ranked teams
Week 7: #1 LSU, #2 Cal both lose. Cal to an UN-Ranked team LSU to #17 UK which had tradition in the cellar of the SEC not beating #1 ranked teams in the Nation.
Week 8: #2 USF, #6 USC(the SEC one) & #7 UK all lose. While UK getting beat by #15 Florida Gators may not be an upset, having the #6 team beat by Vanderbilt and the #2 USF going down to Rutgers was.
Week 10: #2 BCU lost to a 6-3 FSU
Week 11: #1 OSU loses at home to Illinois
And now we start week 12 with #2 Oregon going down to AZ.
Each team had their shot at #1 taken away from them, even though LSU has managed to regain it. Dream seasons for UK, USF, USC (both of them), Cal and others were lost during “The Most Important Game of the Year”. What is the most important game of the year? Ask a UT fan and you will get most to claim the UF games, an equal amount of traditional fans will shout it’s “the 3rd Sat in Oct” the Bama game, and some the UGA game. Yet here we stand at week 12 and UT faces a stronger Vanderbilt team and a win will place UT just one win away from a trip to ATL and a chance at a SEC Championship. Is the Vandy game not the most important game of the year for UT? Or if they win is the UK the most important game of the year?
The fact is that in the BCS division every game is the most important game you play. There will always be rivalries, UM-OSU, UT-Bama, GA-Auburn, winning the big SEC game against UF will be high on the list for UT. You cannot take any game for granted. They are all “The Most Important Game Of The Year”

pdhuff#552644 writes:

dlskaggs, great motiviation post, only topped by the pre-game words tomorrow, "Beat Vandy and you'll have free Krispy Kreme's for life". Phil would suit up and start! Seriously this is a hard bunch to get a handle on. I'll always believe SEC football is a emotional game played by young men! You come out flat and you'll be flattened. Lord , don't let us be flattened tomorrow! Go Vols!

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