Quip of the week

If defensive coordinator John Chavis' troops are as sharp this week as his wit, Tennessee just might be able to shut down a potent and explosive California Golden Bear offense Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Pocket passer Nate Longshore will start at quarterback for Cal but shifty backup Joe Ayoob is expected to see significant playing time. When asked which quarterback concerns him most, Chavis deadpanned:

"I'm more worried about the one that's in the game. The one that's on the sideline can't hurt us."

Preparing for two quarterbacks is difficult but preparing for two offenses is even more so. That's the task that faced Chavis this week, however. New Cal offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar (formerly at Northwestern) has added some elements of the spread option to the I formation head man Jeff Tedford has used so successfully in the past.

How much does the blending of the I and the spread option complicate Tennessee's task on defense?

"A lot," Chavis said, "because all the tendencies they had last year you can kind of throw away. Those tendencies no longer hold true. Then you break down all the Northwestern film and the tendencies they had, but it's going to be different.

"They (Golden Bears) have some fine tight ends. Even when they spread it out, I think you'll find those tight ends in the game. They didn't have those tight ends at Northwestern. It's going to be totally different. We'll have to adjust on the move."

Helping that adjustment is the fact Tennessee returns all four starters from its 2005 secondary. Their experience should help when the Vols are trying to read, recognize and react to the new wrinkles Cal throws at them. The fact is, this just might be as good a secondary as Chavis has had.

"We're talented," he conceded. "But we've got to go play. We've got a chance to be as good. When you go back to when Rashad Baker and Gibril Wilson were here (2002 and 2003), we had a pretty dog-gone good secondary their junior and senior years.

"If this group can play as good as that group, we'll be pretty satisfied with the production."

No matter who's playing quarterback for Cal.


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