Since Justin Harrell enjoys playing the run, he should enjoy Saturday night's Vols-Falcons game a lot. Still, he is blown away by the prospect of facing a team so decidedly ground-oriented.
"We've never really seen a team come in and try to run the ball that much," he said. "It's going to be a big challenge for the D-line to come out and set the tempo. And it's going to take the linebackers and DBs playing their responsibilities – not get caught looking for the run and get a pass thrown over their heads."
Harrell hasn't faced an offense even remotely similar to the Air Force flex-bone since he played for Westview High in Martin, Tenn. His fellow Vol defenders haven't faced anything like it during their college careers, either. That should make for one interesting evening on Saturday.
"It's going to be a big job for the defense to try and shut this thing down this week," Harrell noted.
The best way to "shut this thing down" is for each Vol to handle his assignment without losing his aggressiveness. If Tennessee's defenders do that, they should be all right. Still, the unorthodox nature of the flex-bone can present problems.
"The scheme is what scares you," Harrell said. "We're watching a lot of film to make sure everybody's handling their responsibilities. I feel pretty confident we'll get it done."
Air Force, like most option teams, utilizes the unconventional attack as a way to neutralize foes with better players. Ultimately, Harrell believes UT's superior talent will provide the winning edge against the flex-bone.
"If everybody does their job we can take care of it because we've got enough athletes on the field," he said. "The big key is just being in the right spot."
California threw 42 passes against the Vols last Saturday, an average of 10 per quarter. By comparison, Air Force may not throw 10 passes the entire game.
"It's completely different from Cal," Harrell conceded. "As far as our approach and the intensity level it's going to take, though, it's going to be the same."