Tennessee ranks second in the SEC - behind only Alabama - and are tied for 11th in the nation in sacks allowed this season. UT is averaging just one sack allowed per game.
"I normally only get hit once or twice a game, which to me is outstanding," quarterback Jonathan Crompton said. "I'll take that any day."
Offensive guard Jacques McClendon said avoiding sacks is a must for offensive consistency.
"That's our goal, is to stay on track," the senior said. "When we have negative yardage, we're off track."
McClendon declined to take too much credit on behalf of UT's offensive line. He said the overall offensive cohesiveness has been the key.
For instance, tailback Montario Hardesty has played a key role when picking up blitzers that UT's offensive line couldn't account for.
"Montario is making some tremendous cuts picking up blitzes from the linebackers," McClendon said. "That's something most people don't notice."
"He'll get up there and stick his nose in there and take a hit and block somebody and give me an extra second," Crompton said.
Asked if the better protection helped him feel healthier this November as compared to last season, Crompton turned and rapped his knuckles on a wooden door.
"Knock on wood man," he said with a smile. "When the O-line is playing like they are, you feel good this time of year."
No Big Shock: Maryville coach George Quarles wasn't exactly taken aback when asked about one of his former players, UT freshman offensive tackle Aaron Douglas.
"I don't think many people are going to be surprised just how good Aaron ends up," Quarles said on the News Sentinel's radio show, The Sports Page. "Aaron is one of those that if he stays healthy and he keeps working like I know he will, he can play this game for a long time."
Douglas has locked down the right tackle position for the Vols, starting eight consecutive games, and was named the SEC offensive lineman of the week for his performance against Memphis on Nov. 7.
Visitor: Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summit visited Thursday's practice.