Tennessee defensive line coach John Palermo may have the toughest task on the team each Saturday when he tries to rile up the Vols' gentle giant of a nose guard.
Daniel McCullers, the 6-foot-8, 360-pound junior college transfer, is almost too nice for his own his good.
"It's almost like you want to put him in a boxing ring and let someone take a few jabs at him before the game starts," Palermo said. "He's just a happy-go-lucky guy."
Palermo said McCullers would play a lot against Mississippi State on Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 9 p.m.), but probably not much more than he did two weeks ago against Georgia. That was the first game that coaches allowed him to play in nickel packages rather than just run defense.
"He had 40 snaps against Georgia," Palermo said. "I don't know if any of our defensive linemen are capable of going more than 40 or 45 snaps in a game right now. When the weather cools off, I think they will."
Tennessee offensive line coach Sam Pittman has spent more than 20 seasons in the college football, but this is his first stint in the SEC.
What sets the league apart? Big, athletic defensive lineman every single week.
"I can't recall facing this many good pass-rushers, and we haven't even played Alabama yet," Pittman said. "It's an incredible league. As an offensive line coach, I had heard that it's a defensive linemen league.
"I thought, 'Sure, they have some good players,' but I had no idea that there would be as much defensive line talent as there is in the SEC. It makes you practice well because you know if you don't, you're going to get your butt kicked on Saturday."
Mississippi State uses multiple defensive fronts and tries to confuse offenses with frequent movements, a style that is "in vogue," Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said.
"They do a little bit of everything," Chaney said. "They're going to try to create confusion and play hard and keep the ball in front of them. They do a good job of all of those qualities."
Chaney also praised the Bulldogs' effort and aggressiveness.
"It's hard to find a play where you don't see all those guys flying to the ball," Chaney said. "They play extremely, extremely hard, and we've got to fight fire with fire and play just as hard."
UT coach Derek Dooley's signature orange pants won't be viewable from his perch in the press box, and no assistant coach is clamoring to fill the fashion void.
"I can't wear those pants," said Pittman. "I don't know who else would."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.