Vol defense preps for S.C.

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Once again the Volunteers are set to play a Top 25 team in South Carolina and once again Sal Sunseri's defense will be key is securing a victory in Columbia.

Tennessee will have another unique challenge in week eight when they square off with Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw. The junior signal caller has thrown for 982 yards and nine touchdowns this season, but is equally as scary on the ground.

To supplement his air attack, Shaw is the Gamecocks second leading rusher behind tailback and former All-SEC Freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore.

"Connor Shaw has got great feet," Sunseri said Wednesday. "That kid, you have to be very good and disciplined in your rush lanes. He makes a lot of plays with his legs and he is also a good enough thrower to get the ball out there. He is delivering the ball to his running backs.

LaDarrell McNeil will make his third-straight start at safety this week.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
"They won't hesitate to run him on a quarterback sweep and they won't hesitate to run him on a quarterback draw. He makes a lot of plays with his feet. We just have to make sure we contain him, keep him in the pocket and play good coverage."

With 278 yards rushing and one touchdown, Shaw uses the broken play to his advantage moving the chains for Steve Spurrier's offense.

"Those broken plays are what is scary because he is a definite threat with his feet," safeties coach Josh Conklin said. "We have to make sure that we are all alert to that, the underneath droppers in the zone need to make sure that they are driving to the quarterback when he crosses the line of scrimmage.

"He adds an extra dynamic. He is going to read his first read and if he doesn't see it he is going to make something on his own."

One player that could add a wrinkle in Tennessee's run support is true freshman safety LaDarrell McNeil, who brought himself up to the curve quickly after getting his first start against Mississippi State in Week 5.

"He is making a lot of progress," Conklin said of McNeil. "He is getting more comfortable. He just has to stay confident and keep moving forward because he is a good football player. He is showing up and being productive. We are going to get him in more position to make plays because he is that type of guy."

Watch as Tennessee defensive assistant coaches addressed the media Wednesday:

Sal Sunseri

Derrick Ansley

Josh Conklin

John Palermo


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