Eager to face Spurrier

South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier has a lot of fans, including one who plays linebacker for the Tennessee Vols.

That would be senior Jason Mitchell, who starts on the weakside. He's one of the few Vols who have faced Spurrier – having done so as a freshman in 2001, when Spurrier was in his final year at Florida. Tennessee won that game 34-32 but Mitchell came away impressed.

"He's pretty much an offensive genius," the Vol linebacker said. "You've got to expect the unexpected because you never know what he'll come out with. He's a mastermind of his craft. Basically, we have to be disciplined, stick to our assignments and do what we're coached to do."

Whereas some teams try to line up and whip their opponent physically, Spurrier takes more of a cerebral approach. Rather than outmuscle foes, he's more inclined to outsmart them by creating personnel mismatches and confusion.

"It's a finesse style," Mitchell said. "He tries to beat you with your own mistakes. He won't run the ball up and down the field. He tries to run angles, beat you with schemes instead of players."

Because Spurrier's offense involves a heavy emphasis on the passing game, Tennessee's linebackers will find themselves dropping into coverage quite a bit in tonight's showdown at Neyland Stadium.

"We'll be playing more pass coverage than usual," Mitchell conceded. "This week we might have to put another safety on the field. We did in the past. I don't want to hear that, though."

Mitchell dislikes the idea of adding a safety to the lineup because it means removing a linebacker from the lineup. That could cut into his playing time. Even so, he's eager to face Spurrier again.

"I'm excited to play him," Mitchell said, "but mostly I'm excited to just play again. I really want to get a win."


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