Vol 'backers like 3-4 alignment

Robert Peace and Kevin Simon would love to see Tennessee play a lot of 3-4 defense this fall, and with good reason. First, they believe it will maximize UT's glut of quality linebackers. Secondly, it will almost certainly increase their playing time.

Because he missed the last part of spring practice with a shoulder fracture, Peace probably will open the season as the No. 2 middle linebacker behind senior Keyon Whiteside. When the Vols are in a 3-4 alignment, however, Peace figures to join the lineup as the second ''inside'' linebacker.

''I definitely like the possibilities of the 3-4,'' Peace said. ''I think we've got four or five linebackers who can be great players on every down, so the 3-4 can be a big impact for us. The 4-3 is a defense that we've always based out of at Tennessee. Everybody's comfortable with it and it's still going to be our main package but I think the 3-4 has a chance to be a great package on special downs.''

Simon agrees. Though stuck behind Kevin Burnett at the weakside linebacker spot, he knows that the more the Vols play the 3-4, the more opportunity he'll have to enter the fray.

''I'd rather play the 3-4,'' he said. ''That's just 'cause I'm trying to get in there at the weak linebacker spot. It's about getting your best players on the field against the opposing offense. If we've got four linebackers who are better than our four best defensive linemen, go ahead and put the four linebackers out there and let 'em play.''

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