Cutcliffe vs. Chavis

David Cutcliffe and John Chavis did a lot of brainstorming between 1993 and 1998, when the former was Tennessee's offensive coordinator and the latter Tennessee's defensive coordinator.

Chavis oversees the Vol defense but Cutcliffe has moved on to become head man at Ole Miss. That provides an interesting sidelight to Saturday night's Vol-Rebel showdown in Oxford.

''When you go against someone in spring practice as much as we did, I think you get a pretty good understanding of what they're thinking and what they want to do,'' Chavis said. ''David and I had a lot of opportunities to sit around and talk philosophy -- where we thought football was going and that sort of thing.

''There's not anything I know that he doesn't know and, I hope, vise-versa.''

Chavis dismisses the idea that his knowledge of Cutcliffe's offensive tendencies and philosophies could work to Tennessee's advantage Saturday night. Knowing Cutcliffe's favorite plays is one thing; stopping them is another matter. Likewise, knowing Chavis' defensive tendencies may not be a big help for Cutcliffe if his team executes poorly.

''You've still got to play the game,'' the Vol coordinator said. ''Certainly, David has an idea about some of the things we like to do from a defensive standpoint. But the game's played between the kids between the lines. We try to help 'em as much as we can with our calls and preparing them for what we think they'll see but, ultimately, that's where the game's played.''

Although Chavis concedes that Cutcliffe's offense at Ole Miss looks a lot like the one he oversaw at Tennessee, there are some differences.

''There's some things that are pretty concrete and haven't changed but he's added some things,'' the Vol aide said. ''And everybody tweaks what they do a little bit here and there.''

Does this mean Chavis won't be trying to out-think Cutcliffe Saturday night?

''I think you guys (media) have well documented the fact that I'm not going to out-think ANYBODY,'' Chavis wisecracked. ''I'm going to try to outwork 'em and see if we can get it done that way.''


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