A close O&W game?

There's wonderful news for Tennessee football fans who skipped the Orange & White game in recent years because the "Best against the Rest" format created such ugly mismatches: This Saturday's O&W game should be a reasonably competitive contest.

"We've got the teams divided as evenly as we can," head coach Phil Fulmer said.

Rather than let coordinators John Chavis and David Cutcliffe hold a "draft" of the available players, Fulmer and his staff took great pains to divide the talent so as to prevent one-on-one mismatches.

"We were pretty meticulous about not getting mismatches," Fulmer said. "A (top-notch) defensive end on some first-year offensive tackle could ruin the whole scrimmage. You don't want to make him look like something he's really not. We tried to get the match-ups as best we can to be as even a game as we can have."

That makes perfect sense. No one wants to watch an inexperienced guard like redshirt freshman Malcom Rawls getting schooled by a superstar like senior defensive tackle Justin Harrell. There would nothing entertaining about seeing a green defensive end like redshirt freshman Wes Brown being pushed around by an all-star offensive tackle like senior Arron Sears. And it would prove nothing for an all-star caliber wide receiver like junior Robert Meachem repeatedly to get open against an assortment of walk-on defensive backs.

In addition, Saturday's offenses will be limited to certain plays and formations, while the defenses will be limited in terms of stunts, blitzes, disguises, etc. Fulmer hopes this will make for a more competitive contest.

"There will be some boundaries," the head man conceded, "both offensively and defensively. But we're going to try to play a game."

The game will consist of two 15-minute quarters and two 12-minute quarters. The first- and second-teamers will play most of the first two quarters. Third-teamers and walk-ons will get most of the playing time in the final two quarters.

Kick-off for the Orange & White game is 2 p.m. "Fans Day" will be held inside Thompson-Boling Arena from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with players available for photos and autographs.


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