UT expects Air Raid

The task facing Tennessee's defense this weekend is adjusting from Air Force to Air Raid. Minus two of their best cornerbacks, the Vols are expecting to see an all-out aerial assault from No. 7 Florida this Saturday night.

Air Force threw just nine passes against Tennessee last weekend. The Gators may attempt that many in the first quarter this weekend.

"I think so," Vol cornerback Jonathan Wade says. "They have an outstanding running back (DeShawn Wynn) but, with this being Chris Leak's senior year, I think they'll let him try to win the game."

That's a pretty sound plan. Leak burned the Vols for 22 completions in 31 attempts for 286 yards and three touchdowns in 2004. Tennessee did a better job containing him last year, limiting Leak to 17 of 26 for 179 yards.

Now that Inquoris Johnson has joined Roshaun Fellows on the injured list, Tennessee's cornerback depth is perilously thin. Jonathan Hefney has moved over from free safety and will start at the corner opposite Wade. Sophomore Demetrice Morley becomes the starter at free safety. Redshirt freshman Ricardo Kemp, who worked at running back last spring, becomes the nickel back and the chief reserve behind Wade. Little-used junior Antonio Gaines is the only other scholarship corner.

"Ricardo Kemp is a very, very good cornerback," Wade says. "He played cornerback in high school. He's gone from cornerback (at UT) to receiver to running back and back to cornerback. He had a lot of things instilled in him from his previous times at corner.

"He can play. A lot of people will see this weekend how good he is. He's going to be a big help to us."

Wade has even more confidence in Hefney, who started at cornerback for the Vols in 2004 before playing safety in 2005 and the first two games of 2006.

"Hefney's an outstanding football player," Wade notes. "I don't think there's anything he couldn't do. I think he could actually be our punter."

Hefney, without question, is one versatile Vol. During his first three years in the program he has played corner, played safety, returned punts and played on several special-teams units.

"He's just courageous. He does it all in football games," Wade says. "Like last Saturday, when the Air Force quarterback dives into the end zone, Hefney sees the ball and just snatches it.

"You never know what you're going to get with Hefney. He's amazing, and he can do it all in that 5-8 frame."

Hefney won't have to "do it all" this weekend but he'll have to do one thing very well – cover Floroida's stable of speedy wideouts.

"They have about 20 receivers it seems who run about a 4.2," Wade notes, smiling at his own hyperbole. "They all catch the ball well and they all make a lot of plays.

"But we're looking forward to the challenge. We need to be in the right position all the time, try not to give up the big play."


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