"We did a great job stopping their option," Chavis recalled. "Then they came out and ran it between the tackles – power football – for about 200 yards in the second half. Hopefully, we won't let that happen. Hopefully, we'll play the option good and not give up anything inside on the power game."
One of the biggest problems in facing triple-option teams is simulating the unconventional attack in practice. That makes preparation a tremendous challenge.
"You never get the speed," Chavis said. "That's the thing you worry about."
Because Tennessee's scout-squad quarterbacks can't simulate the speed of opposing option QBs, there is a tendency for Vol defenders to overrun option plays in practice. Strange as it sounds, Chavis finds that encouraging.
"When we get ready for an option team, unless I see a lot of overruns in practice, I'm a little concerned," the coordinator said. "If we're overrunning in practice, usually your timing in the game is close. We want to make sure we're well out in front of everything we see in practice. If we do that, we're in good shape."
Given how difficult it is to prepare for an option team, you wonder why the unorthodox system isn't more popular. Chavis says there's a very good reason.
"I don't think you'd be able to recruit a lot of talent; nobody wants to play that offense," the coordinator said. "Guys want to be in a wide-open offense."
Preparing for the Falcons' flex-bone is made even tougher by the fact it falls between two spread offenses – Cal's and Florida's – on Tennessee's schedule.
"If you were making the schedule, you wouldn't do it this way," Chavis said. "But I don't make the schedule. I just get our kids ready to play. That's what I'm concerned with. Hopefully, we'll come out of this game in good shape."
Surely, they'll come out of it in better shape than they did in the ‘98 Orange Bowl.