UT defensive line coach Chuck Smith has history with Saban, too

Ex-Vol did motivational speaking for Alabama

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The Nick Saban connection on Tennessee's staff runs beyond the obvious links of head coach Derek Dooley and linebackers coach Lance Thompson, both of whom served directly under the Alabama coach at one point in their respective careers.

UT defensive line coach Chuck Smith worked for Saban, albeit for brief amounts of time, at both LSU and Alabama, serving as the teams' motivational speaker whenever Saban thought his players needed to hear from the fiery ex-NFL defensive end.

"It was cool," Smith said. "Nick is cool, real attention to detail. Kind of like Derek. He takes notes on everything you say.

"We go way back."

Smith, who played at UT before spending nine years in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, and Saban first met through a mutual friend and colleague, powerful agent Jimmy Sexton. After he made the move from Michigan State to LSU in 2000, Saban invited Smith to speak to the team before its first spring scrimmage. Saban liked what he heard so much that he brought Smith back on two occasions at Alabama before Smith landed with Dooley and the Vols.

"He was a high-motor player when he was in college," Saban said on Wednesday's SEC teleconference. "He's a very inspirational guy in terms of his passion and energy for doing things the right way. That's pretty much what he talked to the players about."

Smith has spoken for plenty of other coaches around the country, which makes Saturday's game against Alabama (TV: ESPN, 7 p.m.) the first of what likely will become a number of occasions where he faces off against an old friend.

"They're football people and I'm a football person," Smith said. "Football transcends rivalries when you're not at Tennessee."

Short Answer: Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox didn't mince words when he was asked if he'd ever planned to face a better tailback combination than Alabama's Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.

"No," he said before shrugging off a chance to compare Ingram and Richardson to the former Auburn duo, Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown.

"Those guys were good but you can put these two up against anybody," Wilcox said. "I haven't been around that long but I've never seen that."

Questionable Stats: UT's players and coaches aren't buying into the belief that Alabama's defensive line is slacking because of its lack of sacks.

The Crimson Tide ranks last in the SEC and sits at 104th of 120 teams in the FBS, averaging 1.14 sacks per game. Matt Simms, one of the most-sacked quarterbacks in the nation this season, isn't preparing to take any less Tylenol on Sunday.

"They do a good job of collapsing the pocket around the quarterback and at least making the quarterback feel uncomfortable, even if they're not getting rewarded with sacks," Simms said. "I think they are still doing their part disrupting the pocket."

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said he saw plenty of instances on film where an Alabama player should have recorded a sack, but the opposing quarterback was able to throw it away or escape for a minor gain.

"The pressure is there, the altering of the throwing motion is there," he said. "I do believe that can be a little misleading."

Good Bye: The week off likely didn't do enough to bring back defensive tackle Montori Hughes (ankle) or offensive lineman JerQuari Schofield (foot) to full strength, but it appears to have paid off for left tackle Dallas Thomas.

Thomas played through pain in a sprained ankle against Georgia on Oct. 9, and likely would not have played if UT had a game last week, Dooley said. Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand said Wednesday that Thomas, who worked in full capacity at practice this week, was "doing a lot better."

"He's full-speed now and feeling a lot better, not missing any reps," Hiestand said. "That's a plus."

Andrew Gribble can be reached at 865-342-6327.

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Comments » 12

snuffy63#653562 writes:

Tennessee fans, we are very lucky to have Coach Chuck Smith. While he was at UT as a player, I had the good fortune to talk to man for around thirty minutes and there was no denying his love for the game of football and the university of Tennessee. Before all is said and done he will be an elite recruiter for Tennessee. Far better than Orgeron will ever be, and definitely far better character. Mark my words. I've followed Tennessee fotball for over 50 yrs. and I really believe in him.

dvols writes:

this gribble dude is ok.....

Munsterlander writes:

in response to dvols:

this gribble dude is ok.....


AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:


utfan36 writes:

in response to AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons:


did yal beat maryville!

Need_2_Know writes:

Forgive me for day two on this, but I think it's important.

Just a note to all Vol fans . . . while it's tough to watch our team struggle right now, it is imperative that we fill the stands Saturday with Orange, not Crimson. Please, if you can't or don't wish to attend, try to ensure that your tickets end up in the hands of Vol fans and not the "other guys". There are few things that get the attention of recruits, both in attendance and watching on TV, like seeing the visitors colors overwhelm the host teams colors in the stands (think of UT playing at Vandy, you'll get the picture). Two years ago it seemed that easily one-third of the fans were in 'Bama's colors, only exacerbated by the early exit of many UT 'fans' who didn't like the Vol's performance.

YOU can help rebuild this team by showing up, and staying throughout, as a VOL. Do it for yourself, your team, for John Ward . . . just do it! (Sorry, Nike).

GBO! ! ! Dam The Tide ! ! !

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to NegativeBillSportsAnimal:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Save your hate for Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, etc. You can question Pope's toughness and desire if you wish, but he's still a Volunteer.

jack_2222#231746 writes:

Montori needs to see Dan Williams' NFL contract.

givehim6 writes:

Not real sure why KNS is trying to do all this linking of UT coaches to Saban, maybe there running out of things to talk about.

ghawk writes:

in response to NegativeBillSportsAnimal:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What do yo know about the situation? Nothing, and you're running your mouth. If I had to bet on it you are the "W*ssy. If you have inside info then let it be known....what if he does have nerve damage in the shoulder, then that would make you look like a fool. Just make sure you know what you are talking about before running that mouth.

ghawk writes:

in response to givehim6:

Not real sure why KNS is trying to do all this linking of UT coaches to Saban, maybe there running out of things to talk about.

Because it gives us more background information and is interesting. I didn't know smith knew Saban that well, and find it interesting he has had him make talks to his players a couple of times.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

A little off-topic, but I figured what the heck....

Just watched a youtube of the '82 game, Bear's last game in Knoxville. It showed the "T" at midfield, and the raucous Tennessee crowd. Listening to John Ward's voice as the Vols beat up the Crimson Tide almost brought tears to my eyes. That place was rockin'. I don't know why, but whenever I see a game on TV, seems like the crowd's watching a movie rather than a football game. I think maybe part of that's the tighter rules on celebrations, maybe folks are afraid that they'll get in some sort of trouble for being just a bit too happy about their team winning.

I humbly request that those who are able to attend the game tomorrow raise holy hell, scream themselves so hoarse that they have no voice for a week, and stay proud to be Tennessee Vols... I know I always will be, W or L!!!! It's great to be a Tennessee Vol!!

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