Who has the edge?

Since Auburn and Tennessee already met during the regular season, they know each other pretty well heading into Saturday night's SEC Championship Game. So, which should benefit most in the rematch -- the offense or the defense?

''Defense,'' said Vol offensive coordinator Randy Sanders.

''Offense,'' said Vol defensive coordinator John Chavis.

Hey, what did you expect ... objectivity?

''I think anytime you see anybody a second time, it probably benefits the defense more than it does the offense,'' Sanders surmised. ''One of the advantages you have offensively is your speed or the element of surprise. The more you see that offense, the better off the defense usually is. In my opinion, that's the way it works. The defensive coach might tell you the other way.''

Yep. Chavis needed less than a second to respond when asked which side of the ball benefits most when two teams meet for the second time.

''It's always a benefit to the offense,'' he said, grinning smugly. ''Those guys get EVERY advantage, and they're always looking for more. All the rules they make are for the offense. There's nothing ever going to help the defense, I guarantee you that.''

Although Auburn is seeing Tennessee's offense for the second time, it won't be exactly the same offense the Tigers saw on Oct. 2. For one thing, Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer handled the quarterback duties that time; Rick Clausen will do the honors this time. Also, Gerald Riggs got just seven carries in the earlier meeting. He's averaging 16 carries per game since then.

''We've changed quite a bit,'' Sanders said. ''Our offense has grown and evolved since that point. That was early in the season (Game 4). We were playing with Brent and Erik (at quarterback), so we were just hoping to get the snap and go the right way. The offense is doing more things and creating a few more problems now but we're doing it with a lot of second-teamers at some positions now.''

Auburn's offense has changed a bit since the earlier meeting, as well.

''Yeah, they've gotten better,'' Chavis said. ''Running the ball, throwing it, you name it. They've grown. (QB Jason) Campbell's grown with the offense. They've added a little bit each week. They give you a little more to prepare for, and they execute really well. That's where they've grown and where they've gotten better.''


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