Vol DBs face huge test

Tennessee's secondary play was so erratic in Game 1 that two of the four starting defensive backs (Corey Campbell, Roshaun Fellows) lost their jobs and a third (Jason Allen) moved to a new position for Game 2.

Given all of the upheaval in the defensive backfield, this is not the ideal time to face the best passer Tennessee will see all year -- Florida's Chris Leak. Still, Tennessee's coaches are confident the new-look secondary will be OK. They believe the move of Allen from corner to safety and the insertion of Jonathan Wade and Jonathan Hefney at the corners will solidify the defensive backfield a bit.

''Us making the moves in the secondary will definitely help us,'' head coach Phil Fulmer said. ''Those kids are fighters and tough guys. They'll have to be in this football game.''

The head man said the promotion of sophomore Wade and true freshman Hefney should help in both the short-term and long-term, adding: ''We like the fight those guys bring to the table.''

Hefney showed a little too much fight in Game 1, incurring a 15-yard personal foul penalty for body-slamming UNLV receiver Earvin Johnson.

The revamped Vol secondary won't face a better passer all year than Leak. Only a sophomore, he already is being mentioned as an All-America and Heisman Trophy candidate.

''He knows where he's going with the football better,'' Fulmer said. ''He gets himself out of trouble and makes plays ... gets the ball out pretty fast. He knows what he's going, which is only natural as he matures.''

It's a safe bet that Leak will pick on Hefney and Wade, neither of whom has ever started a college game at cornerback.

Fulmer noted that Wade ''certainly has the ability to be a good player but, from a mindset standoint, needs to continue to be tougher. It's not his nature, but he's got to make himself be.''


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