Meet the press

When Tennessee's receivers line up for the Vols' first offensive play Saturday in Gainesville they may find a group of Florida defensive backs right in their faces.

That's what Trooper Taylor is thinking.

That's what Erik Ainge is expecting.

That's what Austin Rogers is hoping.

Florida likes to play press coverage, jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage and daring the opponent to try and throw deep. That strategy makes even more sense this Saturday, given the fact Tennessee's inexperienced wideouts have yet to prove they can beat press coverage.

"That's what you have to prepare for because that's obviously the hardest thing to go against," says Ainge, Tennessee's senior quarterback. "If you have a corner who can physically take a receiver out of the game, that's the hardest thing there is to do in football.

"But we'll prepare for it. We'll be ready for it. We'll be ready for everything they do."

Taylor, the Vols' receivers coach, also looks for a lot of press coverage from a young but aggressive Gator defense.

"We got a couple of snaps of it against Southern Miss," he notes. "They tried to do it some but we were able to get open and make plays.... We've gotten some press but the caliber of athlete we're about to see will set the stage for us. These guys (Florida defensive backs) can really play the game. They have a lot of speed."

Rogers, who leads Tennessee with 13 catches through the first two games, also expects press coverage from the Gators, and he relishes the prospect.

"That's what Florida does because they have the athletes to do it," he says. "We're going to show 'em we can go over the top, then maybe they'll back off a little bit and we'll go underneath. Whatever they give us, that's what we'll take."

Ainge completed a career-high 32 passes in the opener against California. With the Golden Bears playing three-deep coverage, however, almost all of the completions were dinks and dunks of the five- to 10-yard variety.

Since the Vols didn't throw deep against Cal, some observers figure the Vols CAN'T throw deep. Rogers believes that's a dangerous assumption.

"What Cal did gave people a false sense of what we can do," he notes. "If that's what they want to think and they want to try to press us up, they can. We'll just have to go over the top and make plays."


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