No huddle? No sweat

The no-huddle attack Florida utilizes will present some problems for Tennessee in Saturday's game at The Swamp but it's nothing the Vols can't handle.

So says Phillip Fulmer.

''We've faced a number of them (no-huddle offenses) in the past,'' UT's head man said. ''We practiced enough against it ourselves, even in two-a-days, that we're more than capable of doing a good job of that.''

One problem posed by the no-huddle offense is that it leaves little time for between-play substitutions. As a result, a defensive coach must do an exceptional job of hustling his players in and out of the game or risk leaving them on the field so long they become fatigued.

''The key is to try and keep fresh people in the game on extended drives,'' Fulmer conceded.

The question is: Can the Vol defense hold up when it's weary? No one knows. It hasn't been on the field enough this fall to find out.

''We've had 26 drives (against UT) this year and 13 of them have been three-and-outs,'' Fulmer noted. ''Other than a little stretch there against Marshall, we haven't been tested that much with people staying on the field. It's going to be really important in this game that we're either subbing good or we can get in (on defense) and get out.''

The no-huddle attack must be working for Florida. Three games into the 2003 season, the high-octane Gators lead all of college football with an average of 53.7 points per game. Florida ranks seventh nationally in yards per game (481.7) and has scored 12 of its 18 touchdowns on drives of two minutes or less. While these gaudy stats can be attributed in part to early-season blowouts of San Jose State (65-3) and Florida A&M (63-3), the Gators also hung 33 points on third-ranked Miami.

Fulmer noted that Florida has running backs who are ''capable of breaking a game open'' and wide receivers who ''spread you out a lot.'' He called senior tight end Ben Troupe (6-5, 262) ''as good a football player as they have and as good at his position as anyone in the conference.''

Gator head man Ron Zook readily concedes that his offense is ''better the second year in the system,'' explaining that Florida lost just one offensive lineman from 2002 and that its receivers are ''much improved.''

As for the blowout wins against San Jose and Florida A&M, Zook said they served a useful purpose because they enabled him to ''see what the young guys can and can't handle.''

Tennessee is 2-0 after mildly impressive defeats of Fresno State (24-6) and Marshall (34-24). The Vol defense was dominant in Game 1 and the offense showed some pop in Game 2. The Big Orange will need a solid effort from both units to beat Florida.

''We'll have to play better than we've played to this point -- on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game -- to win the game,'' Fulmer said. ''We've made some strides but we're not nearly where we'd like to be.''

On a positive note, UT's head man said the team's recent open date provided ''a chance to get well and also to correct those mistakes and get a good look at ourselves. Hopefully, that will show up in the game in the way that we play.''

Regarding the keys to this game, Tennessee's head man said they're no big secret.

''Turnovers vs. takeaways is always crucial,'' he said. ''Rushing the football and defending the rush ... the play of the quarterback ... taking care of the football and making some plays along the way ... the kicking game.''

Ultimately, the Vols can win if they play Tennessee football.

''It's just a matter of doing what we do well -- take care of the football, run the ball, make some plays along the way and don't give up a lot of big things,'' Fulmer said. ''If we do, it'll be an interesting ballgame.''


Inside Tennessee Top Stories