'Perfect situation'

With a 2-2 record and No. 12 Georgia – a winner on its last three visits to Neyland Stadium – coming to town for a Saturday showdown, the Tennessee Vols seem to be in a precarious position.

Not so, says junior guard Anthony Parker.

"This is the perfect situation right here," he said this week. "We've got a great team in Georgia coming in. If we get a victory it would be big for us."

When you're 2-2, ANY victory is big. Parker is right, however. Beating a borderline top-10 team like Georgia would be huge for a Vol squad that is 2-8 in its last 10 games against ranked opponents.

Facing the Bulldogs means a little extra for Parker, who picked the Vols over the Bulldogs after growing up in Jonesboro, Ga.

"Of course, it does," he said. "It's my home state and it's a rivalry game. I can't go home after losing or I'll be hearing about it the whole time I'm home."

Still, he says the fact this is an SEC game trumps the fact the foe is his home-state university.

"It's in my mind that it's my home state, and maybe I get a little more revved up to play that game," Parker said. "But I see it the same as Florida, LSU or anybody else. I've just got to play my game."

In addition to the home-field advantage, Tennessee should benefit from being more rested than Georgia. The Vols enjoyed an open date last week that allowed Parker and his line mates to lick their wounds and recharge their batteries. That was a real plus.

"It was, not just the offensive line but for everybody," he said. "The bumps and bruises had time to heal. I know I'm feeling better, and I think the rest of the guys are, too. I think it's helped everybody."

Parker & Company have done a brilliant job in pass protection this fall, allowing No. 1 quarterback Erik Ainge to be sacked just once in 163 pass attempts through the first four games.

"I just think the guys we've got on the O-line are blessed with good ability and agility," said Parker, a massive 6-3, 305-pounder. "We're not just big, heavy guys. We can all move pretty good. I think that's helping us in the passing game, as far as pass blocking."

Another key reason for the minuscule sack total is that Ainge does a good job of unloading quickly.

"That definitely helps," Parker conceded. "I guess it's part of our scheme for him to get rid of the ball pretty quick. He's not holding onto it. He's making his reads and delivering the ball, which is helping us out."

Ainge also helps out by calling the right protection scheme on a consistent basis.

"He's putting us all in the best positions in terms of doing what he's doing and getting us blocking the right guy," Parker said. "Everything's falling together, as far as that goes."

Unfortunately for the Vols, everything is not falling together in the ground game. Tennessee has been inconsistent running the ball this season, particularly in short-yardage situations. The Vols spent the open-date week working hard to correct the mistakes that have caused them repeatedly to stop themselves on third-and-one and third-and-two situations.

"Definitely," Parker said. "It was not always what the opponent was doing. We were doing things to kill ourselves in short-yardage. We definitely got a lot of things worked out. That whole week of working fundamentally helped us out a lot.

"If we can take those fundamentals from last week and this week's preparation for our opponent – put it all together – we should have a good offense."


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