Can 'D' carry offense?

You'd figure Tennessee's defense would be tired these days, since it has had to carry the Vol offense – figuratively speaking, at least – for the first two games of 2005.

Senior linebacker Jason Mitchell says that isn't the case, however. He believes Tennessee's attack unit is capable of carrying its own weight. In fact, he thinks it already has done so.

"Against UAB they helped us out because we really didn't play that well," he said of a season-opening 17-10 Vol victory. "I don't think we reached any of our defensive goals that day."

That's exactly the sort of team-oriented comment you'd expect from a senior leader. But the simple fact remains that Tennessee's offense managed just 17 points against Alabama-Birmingham in Game 1 and a mere seven points against Florida in Game 2. That didn't leave Tennessee's defense a whole lot of wiggle room. But Mitchell says the defense is eager to do its part – even if that part is more than half.

"Whatever it takes for us to win at this point in time, you've got to do it," he said. "It just so happened the defense played better (than the offense) against Florida, but there will be times when they play a lot better than us."

The Vols better hope that trend starts Monday night at LSU. The Tigers scored 35 points in a season-opening defeat of No. 15 Arizona State, so Tennessee's offense may need to put up 24-31 points just to give the visiting Vols a chance to prevail. Mitchell thinks UT's offensive players are capable of making that happen.

"This might be their best game, and ours might be our worst," he said. "You never know."

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