Chavis awaits Cal's new look

Cal has a new offensive coordinator, so Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis is unsure what to expect from the Golden Bears in Saturday night's opener.

This is not a new experience for Chavis, though. Cal broke in a new offensive coordinator in its 2006 opener against Tennessee, as well.

After just one year under the direction of Mike Dunbar, Cal's offense is being coordinated in 2007 by Jim Michalczik, now in his sixth year overseeing the team's offensive line.

Will Michalczik revert to the offensive system head coach Jeff Tedford utilized in 2005? Will Michalczik use some of the wrinkles Dunbar incorporated in 2006? Will Michalczik add some of his own ideas?

No one outside of the Cal coaching staff knows the answer to these questions, including Chavis.

"Last year they kept a lot of their package they'd had through the years," the Vol coordinator said this week, "so you'd expect them to be more like they were two years ago. But they may like some of the things they did when Dunbar was there last year and changed it up a little bit. We're going to have to wait and see."

One thing is certain: Last year's UT-Cal game film is virtually useless. The Golden Bears' 2006 game plan failed miserably, so they won't be using that plan of attack again.

"All the tendencies that you have, you can throw them out the window," Chavis said. "There's somebody else calling the plays. I don't know who's calling the plays. I don't know if the offensive line coach is calling their plays or the head coach is back calling the plays. We're just going to be ready to play."

Tennessee's defense came out "ready to play" in last year's opener with Cal, holding the Golden Bears scoreless for three quarters en route to a 35-0 lead. Starting tackle Justin Harrell (bicep) and starting cornerback Inky Johnson (nerve damage) suffered season-ending injuries a week later vs. Air Force, however, and Tennessee's defense nose-dived thereafter.

"Last year I felt our defense had a chance to be as good as we'd been around here," Chavis said. "In the Cal game I think we played that way. Then the next week we lose two key players, and I don't think we ever recovered from that. But we don't make excuses around here; we play with what we've got and expect to play at a high quality."

Although Tennessee's 2007 defense should be better than its 2006 defense, the Game 1 defense in '07 may not be as good as the Game 1 defense in '06.

"I think we're better right now than we were the last half of the (2006) season," Chavis said. "Are we as good as we were when we played Cal last season? That remains to be seen."


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