'Dealer's choice'

LSU's secondary may play aggressive press coverage in Saturday night's game with Tennessee. Or it might play soft zone coverage. Simply put, both have worked well against UT's sputtering passing attack this fall.

"If I'm looking at us as a defensive coordinator, it's almost dealer's choice," Vol offensive coordinator Randy Sanders admits. "You don't know which one you want to go to (man to man or zone coverage) but you've got to feel good about both of ‘em."

Sanders' frustration is understandable. With five heralded receivers back from 2004, Tennessee was supposed to have an outstanding passing attack this fall. Instead, it has been downright mediocre.

Alabama-Birmingham stopped UT in Game 1 by playing its defensive backs deep and letting the Vols complete a few short passes underneath the coverage. Florida stopped UT in Game 2 by playing tight coverage and daring the Vols to throw deep.

"UAB sits back, plays soft, makes you execute down the field," Sanders says. "Florida basically takes the opposite approach, and we're not nearly as successful against either one as we need to be."

The only success Tennessee's passing game has had this fall came in the early stages of the UAB game, when the Blazers attempted to play man-to-man coverage.

"UAB played press man twice," Sanders noted. "We scored a touchdown and hit a 53-yard play. The rest of the game they played pretty soft to try to keep everything in front of them."

LSU allowed a whopping 461 passing yards in its opener against Arizona State, so the Tigers certainly appear vulnerable to the forward pass. Still, they won't have to stop UT's passing attack so long as UT continues stopping itself.

And stopping themselves is the one thing the Vols have done well this fall.


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