"I hope so," he said. "I love zone traps. I think it's great."
Although Georgia used a 23-7 explosion to whittle a 60-42 deficit to 67-65 in the second half of last Saturday's game, Pearl says the 1-3-1 trap was only partly responsible for the 16-point rally. For one thing, he says the Bulldogs didn't use the trap throughout the entire rally. For another, there was a mitigating circumstance that hindered the Vols during this time.
"It was a 12-point game with nine minutes to go, then Andre Patterson picked up his fourth foul and went out of the game," the Vol coach noted.
Although Tennessee made three turnovers against the 1-3-1, Pearl says the Vols actually attacked the zone trap pretty effectively at times.
"Dane Bradshaw got to the foul line, C.J. Watson got to the foul line, Chris Lofton got a 3, JaJuan Smith got a layup and Andre Patterson got to the foul line," the coach noted. "We had five good possessions against that defense. The problem is, we turned it over three times. It's feast or famine. That defense will do that to you. It's a very aggressive defense."
Whereas the 1-3-1 was aggressive, the Vols were not. They became a bit tentative when Georgia changed defenses, and that nearly proved to be their undoing.
"I thought we were a little hesitant," Pearl said. "We had not gone up against a 1-3-1 defense as a steady diet since Eastern Kentucky."
Tennessee practiced its offensive sets against 1-3-1 looks last week but not in full-speed, full-contact work. Pearl felt his players needed some rest following their emotional win at Kentucky. That may have contributed to the Vols' late-game struggle against the 1-3-1 in Athens.
"It hurt us to a certain extent because we didn't handle it as well as we could have," Pearl conceded. "It might have won the game for Georgia but it didn't."
Regardless, Tennessee has gotten some full-speed, full-contact work against the 1-3-1 in practice this week. That could pay off Wednesday night.
"We're going to see it against Auburn," Pearl said. "Auburn plays a lot of 1-3-1, so we're going to have to do a better job."