For a defensive back, facing a team with a potent passing attack in Game 1 provides an extra sense of urgency during preseason drills. He knows that he must be in midseason form or risk getting burned.
''There definitely is a sense of urgency because we know they're real good,'' Wilson said. ''Bernard Berrian was an All-American before he got hurt. Number 6 (Jermaine Jamison), No. 1 (Marque Davis) and the tight end (Duncan Reid) ... these guys are very capable. We've got to be up to the challenge. The whole secondary -- the whole defense -- is ready for that.''
Wilson and Rashad Baker may be the best safety tandem in college football. The Vols aren't nearly as solid at cornerback, however. Jabari Greer, who was benched midway through his junior season in 2002, will start at left corner. Jason Allen, who played sparingly as a reserve safety in 2002, is the other starter. The backups are juco transfer Brandon Johnson and redshirt freshman Antwan Stewart -- neither of whom has played a down at the collegiate level.
Still, Wilson thinks UT's cornerback play will be just fine.
''Jabari brings a lot of experience,'' he said. ''Jason brings a lot of youth and excitement. He's excited about playing and he's been working hard all summer. We're all eager to play. It's been so long since we've been in a game that we're ready.''