Watch Turk at work

Probably no Vol football player made greater strides during the course of the 2004 season than Turk McBride.

The 6-4, 260-pound sophomore from New Jersey started Game 5 at defensive end and three of the final six games at tackle. Wherever he played, he generally acquitted himself remarkably well. His best games were a nine-tackle effort against Auburn in Game 4 and a seven-tackle effort against Alabama in Game 7.

His regular-season stats included eight minus-yardage stops -- fourth-best on the team -- with five of these coming in the final six games. He also registered three sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup and six quarterback hurries.

Scheduled to make his fourth start at tackle Jan. 1 against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, McBride seems to have found a home.

''It's going pretty well,'' he says of the move inside. ''I gained a few pounds but I kept my speed up, so it's going pretty good.''

The biggest difference for a tackle is that he is more likely to be double-teamed on the inside than on the outside. For that reason, most players view tackle as a much tougher position to play than end.

''I won't say it's tougher,'' McBride says, smiling softly. ''It's just another way of going through things. At tackle, you have to be a little more physical but I'm up for the challenge.''

He certainly has been, so far.


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