Behind Enemy Lines: USC vs. Tennessee

In this edition of the "Behind Enemy Lines" feature, GamecockAnthem talks with InsideTennessee.com's James Bryant to get the opposition's perspective on the upcoming showdown between South Carolina and Tennessee on Saturday night.


Question: What aspect is the biggest strength of Tennessee's defense this season?

James Bryant: I would have to say it's Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin. He has had a tremendous game plan for every ballgame other than perhaps Auburn. The defensive line has performed well at times, Eric Berry all the time, and overall as a unit they are definitely well prepared and do a great job on gameday.

Question: Has Tennessee's defense shown any vulnerabilities this fall?

James Bryant: The Auburn game was their worst performance by far. One of the main reasons was that it was the first game Nick Reveiz missed at MLB.

Question: What kind of changes has Monte Kiffin brought to the defense scheme-wise this year?

James Bryant: He has the team playing at a high emotional and energy level. His expertise has been a big difference. He mixes up his blitz packages and is one of the best defensive minds in the country.

Question: Outside of Eric Berry, who are the top players to watch on the UT defense?

James Bryant: I would have to say safety Dennis Rogan. When Rogan is playing well, this defense always seems to be clicking. Rico McCoy at linebacker and Chris Walker at defensive end are also both key in this defensive attack.

Question: How do you expect the Volunteers to defend USC freshman wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who has exploded onto the SEC scene this season?

James Bryant: They have shut down several big time receivers including Alabama's Julio Jones. They won't be scared of defending him, that's for sure.

Question: In your opinion, what will the Tennessee defense need to do in order to be successful against the Gamecocks on Saturday night?

James Bryant: They have to get pressure on Garcia. They must disrupt the SC rhythm offensively. They have to be careful of giving up the big play.

Question: Shifting to offense, SEC fans became very familiar with what style of offense to expect from the Volunteers during the Phil Fulmer era, but how does this year's UT offense differ from previous years in scheme, formations, playcalling, etc...?

James Bryant: While it's somewhat similar, there has definitely been an emphasis put on establishing a running attack. It's a pro style offense. At times Lane Kiffin has shown confidence in his QB and has shown a fairly balanced attack.

Question: Who are the top playmakers to watch for on the Tennessee offense this season?

James Bryant: Offensively, Montario Hardesty is having his best season as a Vol. The Vols are very young at wide receiver, and several other positions.

Question: Quarterback Jonathan Crompton struggled early in the season, but he has played better in recent weeks. What do you attribute his improved play to?

James Bryant: Lane Kiffin has done a great job sticking by his quarterback during the tough times. He has done a great job building Crompton's confidence. It's also very obvious that this coaching staff has done a good job developing his talents.

Question: What are the strengths and weaknesses of UT's offense this season?

James Bryant: The running attack would have to be a strength. The overall play of the offensive line this season has been a pleasent surprise. Crompton at one point was a weakness, now his timing with his receivers is much improved.

Question: In your opinion, what does Tennessee's offense have to accomplish on Saturday in order to be successful against the Gamecock defense?

James Bryant: They need to give Crompton time to throw and to stay balanced on offense. If South Carolina is getting to him, things won't be going well in Knoxville. I don't think the Vols can get conserative against the Gamecocks offensively.

Question: Are there any injuries of note for Tennessee this week?

James Bryant: Wide receiver Quinton Hancock is still questionable. Offensive lineman Vlad Richard is also questionable.

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