Tennessee Stat Book
The task facing Tennessee's offense Saturday is tall enough already.
The Vols not only have to face one of the SEC's top defenses in LSU, but they'll have to do it without being able to hear themselves think at times.
"We have to deal with the whole sound factor," quarterback Matt Simms said.
"At times even though our stadium is a little loud when we're on offense, it's going to be a whole other level, especially since it's a conference game, we don't like each other. They're going to be pretty rowdy.
"We just need to stay composed and make sure we don't let the crowd affect us."
LSU's talented defense allows only 12 points per game, good for second in the conference behind Alabama. The Tigers are also giving up just 254 yards per game, good for first in the league and ninth in the nation.
"They're a very physical defense," UT offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said.
"They run around and hit people and they enjoy doing it. Some defenses do it occasionally, this defense is doing it every play."
Add in the raucous crowd at Tiger Stadium, its reputation as one of the country's noisiest environments and it being the first road trip for a number of UT's players, and the Vols (2-2, 0-1 SEC) have a tall mountain to climb.
UT quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw, who coached in a game at LSU (4-0, 2-0) in 2001 while on staff at Middle Tennessee State, said the key is not panicking.
"You don't have room for error, you don't have time, you've got to be able to stay in rhythm with your calls and everything that we're doing, and that's the whole key," he said.
"We're doing a couple things with our normal checks and different things cause you have to be able to do that and get us into better plays. So we will, how much and all that depends on what they (LSU) do."
While Hinshaw said the Vols might come to the line with two plays in some scenarios, the biggest challenge involves communicating plays and audibles to an entire offense, an onus that falls on the quarterback.
"(Simms) is really good with the administration of the offense," Hinshaw said.
"It's just a situation where, 'til you get in that environment - I've been there before and it's loud - it's a thing you've got to constantly stay on cue.
"If you mess up or call something wrong, it's really hard to get it fixed."
Dynamic Dogs: UT defensive line coach Chuck Smith sees the brightest of futures for Corey Miller and Jacques Smith, his two freshman defensive ends.
"If I'm here as I plan on being here with Corey Miller and Jacques Smith, we're going to bludgeon the conference," Chuck Smith said. "The one thing you can't measure in any defensive lineman is that dog in him. (Jacques Smith) and Corey have that dog now.
"Technique comes and goes, but when people play with that dog, like Leonard Little, like Al Wilson, like Raynoch Thompson - he ain't big, he ain't fast, but he got that dog in him.
"Those are the kind of guys we want. We want tough guys here, and all that pretty, sexy stuff gets you in the position we're in now. We want dogs, guys that hunt, guys that get punched in the mouth and get up and say, 'Where are my teeth at? It's cold out here. Who cares?'
"We're working towards that, and all I tell folks is just stick by us. We've got some bright days ahead of us and young, talented players here that are as talented as anybody in the conference."
Status Update: There was less red on UT's practice field Wednesday afternoon.
Cornerback Art Evans (knee), tailback Tauren Poole (thigh) and receiver Denarius Moore (ankle) all weren't wearing red non-contact jerseys.
"(Poole) did good today," UT coach Derek Dooley said.
"We told him 'You need to go.' I'm sick of the hurts and all that, and he went. He did real well. Will he be effective Saturday? I have no idea."
Receiver Gerald Jones (hand) and linebacker Herman Lathers (leg) were both still in the non-contact jerseys.
Patrick Brown is a freelance contributor.