Coleman: 'It's different now'

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Justin Coleman hears all the talk.

How Oregon's offense is unstoppable, how their team speed and tempo is mind-blowing.

Coleman also knows the stats. He knows Oregon averages more than 60 points and 420 rushing yards a game.

He knows it all.

But that doesn't stop the Tennessee junior cornerback from being confused.

Has no one looked at the Vols' stat book?

Of Tennessee's six leading tacklers, four are members of the secondary. Safety LaDarrell McNeil leads the team with 11 tackles. Brian Randolph isn't far behind with nine. Coleman ranks sixth with six.

Coleman doesn't understand why Tennessee's secondary isn't a hot topic. He feels the group is more than capable of smothering Oregon's feverish rushing attack.

"We tackle extremely well," Coleman told InsideTennessee. "No one talks about that."

Now, members of the secondary leading a team in tacking isn't always a good sign. More often than not, it's a very, very bad sign.

It's often a result of poor coverage, blown assignments and running backs exploding into a defense's last line of defense.

That's not the case this year. At least not yet.

Tennessee's secondary gives up an average of 5.7 yards per completed pass. The group has only surrendered one touchdown through the air.

The new coaching staff has emphasized the importance of physicality across all positions. Coleman said the secondary got the message.

"I think this group is something special, man," Coleman told IT. "We have a mindset that I've never been around before. We play fast and we play angry and we tackle well in space."

Coleman believes Tennessee's secondary is often overlooked because of leftover stigmas from last season.

He's out make Vol Nation forget about last year. And there's not a better stage than Oregon.

"Last year, man, we got beat. Yes we did," Coleman said. "But it's different now. We play in space. I know we can. This is the ultimate test."

Talented tailbacks

Veteran Tennessee defenders have played against their fair share of talented ball carries.

They've been tasked with slowing Heisman-winner Mark Ingram, containing Marcus Lattimore, stifling Trent Richardson, T.J. Yeldon, LaMichael James and Todd Gurley – just to name a few.

De'Anthony Thomas' skillset and statistics compete with any of the backs named above. And his speed may trump them all.

Last season he exploded for 700 yards and 11 scores while averaging nearly 9 yards per carry. This season, he averages 8.7 yards per touch.

"He can run really well," Tennessee linebacker Dontavis Sapp told IT. "There's not many guys who can match up with the speed he has."

But Sapp said Thomas doesn't remind him of the house-hold names he has faced in past seasons.

"He's a quick fast guy, smaller guy," Sapp said. "If I had to compare him to someone it be one of those guys at Arkansas we played a couple years ago. You know, one of those smaller, faster guys."

The Vols were thrashed by Arkansas on a fateful November evening in 2011. The Razorbacks' featured back was Dennis Johnson. He rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

In order to not have a repeat of 2011 in Eugene, Ore., Sapp said it's a matter of discipline.

"If you let this guys run, they're gonna run all day," Sapp said. "We have to play disc football and take the right angles."

Nothing new on the D-line

Oregon's speed and athleticism separates it form programs all over the country.

But, when it comes to the Ducks' defensive line, they're not much different from those found in SEC territory.

"They're different schematically-wise," James Stone told IT when asked if Oregon's defensive line is like in-conference foes. "But they have some similar body types that we're used to playing against."

Oregon's defensive line weighs an average of 290-pounds. Alabama's defensive front averages 295.

"On the defensive front, they have some good size to them," Stone said. "They're not really lean guys."

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Butch Jones, per the university

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