Familiar faces

If knowledge is power, a pair of Mississippi State assistants may have a little extra clout heading into Saturday's game against visiting Tennessee.

The Bulldog staff includes two aides who previously served under Vol head man Phillip Fulmer. Pat Washington, receivers coach at Tennessee from 1995-2005, now serves in the same capacity at Starkville. Woody McCorvey, the running backs coach at Tennessee from 1999-2003, now serves as Sylvester Croom's assistant head coach and offensive coordinator.

With 16 years of combined experience in the Vols' offensive system, McCorvey and Washington know much more about Tennessee's schemes and tendencies than the average SEC assistant coach.

No big deal, Fulmer says.

"They know a little bit about us but not too much," the head man said Tuesday afternoon. "We've changed all of our signals, knowing this was coming. And we're operating from the no-huddle quite a bit, so I don't think it (familiarity) will be a factor."

McCorvey always liked big, physical rushers during his stint as UT's running backs coach – guys like Cedric Houston (6-0, 215), Gerald Riggs (6-0, 220) and Jabari Davis (6-0, 230). Now that he's overseeing the offense at MSU it 's hardly surprising that the centerpiece of his attack is a bruising 6-1, 240-pound tailback named Anthony Dixon.

"Woody has certainly got his stamp on the offense, working with the personnel he has," Fulmer said. "They've had an injury (to first-teamer Michael Henig) at quarterback but you can see that it's sound, it's physical and it certainly has the capabilities of being a very fine offensive football team."

The Vols' head man conceded that McCorvey has implemented "a few things that we've done here in the past," adding: "I'm sure Pat (Washington) is very involved in that, as well."

Although Fulmer fired Washington following the 2005 season, he described both of his former aides as "great men and good friends."

Like his boss, Vol defensive coordinator John Chavis tends to downplay the prospect of matching wits with former cohort McCorvey this Saturday.

"We've done this before," Chavis said. "We worked together a long, long time ago and we had a chance to coach against each other when he was at Alabama. This is a game that's played between the lines by the players. The fact you know people is never a factor with me. When you've been in the league as long as I have, you know most of the people in the league."

Chavis had a high regard for McCorvey when they were allies and he has just as much respect for him now that they are opponents.

"Woody's an outstanding person and a fine football coach," the Vol coordinator said. "I think everywhere he's been he's added to the program. Certainly, you can see that he's had a big impact there.

"They've done a great job at that program. They're 4-2 and beat a fine Auburn team. They've got a lot to be excited about. We do, too. Our focus is going to be on Tennessee and getting ready to play this game."

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