'Cause some havoc'

Even a Tennessee defense that is surrendering 381 yards and 27.5 points per game features a few individuals who are performing well.

Gerald Williams, for instance. The rugged senior from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., has registered 20 stops through the first half of the 2010 season, including team highs in sacks (2.5) and tackles for loss (4.0). Those are strong numbers for a guy who has started just two of the first six games and split time between end and tackle.

Upon joining the Vols out of junior college two years ago, he resisted a move to end and insisted on playing linebacker. Now it only matters THAT he plays, not WHERE he plays. The 6-3, 250-pounder is a natural end but estimates that he has played 20 percent of his snaps this fall at tackle "whenever we need it."

Though grossly undersized for tackle, Williams believes he is just as effective rushing the passer from the inside as from the outside.

"At end you're more likely one-on-one basically," he said following Tuesday's practice. "At tackle you might get double-teamed; you might have to watch out for games here and there. But it's all the same technique. As long as you've got your eyes on your man, then you should be able to win."

Williams won a lot of battles in Game 2 vs. Oregon (3 tackles, 4 assists) and in Game 4 vs. UAB (3 tackles, 2 assists). He posted 1.5 tackles for loss in Game 3 vs. Florida. He seems to be growing increasingly comfortable with his role as a part-time end and part-time tackle.

"Yes, sir," he said politely.

Despite Tennessee's ugly defensive statistics, Williams also believes Vol defenders are growing more and more comfortable with coordinator Justin Wilcox's new scheme.

"The comfort is building up each and every week with our unit," he said. "We played poorly last week (in a 41-14 loss at Georgia) but we've got to move on and get better."

Tennessee's pass rush has been anemic this fall. Williams has 2.5 sacks, the rest of the team just 4.5. Seven sacks in six games won't cut it, and Williams says there's no excuse for the paltry total.

"Nothing's holding us back," he said. "It's just up to us to execute. We've got to get out there and get to the quarterback. A lot of teams are quick-gaming us but it's still our duty to get back there and cause some havoc."

Clearly, Williams loves to "cause some havoc." He sees the same trait in heralded freshman Jacques Smith, who is pushing hard for increased playing time at end.

"He's big-time," Williams said. "He's playing like a junior. We're asking a freshman to play like a junior - just give it your all every time out there."

Tennessee's defense is looking to improve in several areas during this open-date week - containing the quarterback being one of the notable ones. Jordan Jefferson bolted 83 yards for a touchdown on LSU's first scrimmage play of Game 5, then Georgia's Aaron Murray burned the Vols for TD runs of 35 and 5 yards last weekend.

Asked if Tennessee defenders take it personally when an opposing QB breaks a big run, however, Williams shook his head.

"We take it personally when ANYBODY breaks a run on us," he said. "We don't want any big explosive plays on our defense at no point in time, no matter what position it comes from."

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