''We're still looking,'' Chavis explained. ''Nobody's stepped up to the point where we can say, 'This guy's the starter, no question about it.' We've got a bunch of guys we're working in there, and they're all making progress. They're all headed in the right direction but there may be more shuffling as we go. I hope somebody will separate themselves from the group.''
Dickerson may have separated himself a bit with a strong showing against the Gators. He registered three unassisted tackles, including a sack. As Chavis noted: ''He made more plays in the Florida game than he did in the first two games combined.''
If Tennessee can get quality play from its defensive tackles, the Vol stop unit could be outstanding. End Parys Haralson recorded five tackles against Florida, including two sacks. Linebacker Kevin Simon registered 14 tackles. Vol defensive backs generally played well.
Although there are some encouraging signs on defense, Chavis cautions that the youthful Vols still have a lot of growing up to do.
''If you look at our entire defense -- how little experience we brought back from last year -- it's scary,'' he said. ''We've never been in this situation before. We're a bunch of greenhorns. We're green and growing. We're working hard and getting better but we're not anywhere near being a good football team.
''We're still making the kind of mistakes that can get you beat, and we've got to eliminate those things. We got better last week against Florida than we were against Marshall. For us to win this week, we've got to be better against South Carolina than we were against Florida.''