Coaches struggle to push right buttons

Usually when a John Chavis defense faces a Steve Spurrier offense, it's a titanic battle between the immovable object and the irresistible force.

It was that way for many years when Chavis' blitz crazed defense attacked Spurrier's high-flying offense at Florida.

But that's not the case this year.

Tennessee's defense ranks 94th in the nation in points allowed and 80th in total defense. It's on pace to set a school record for surrendering points.

South Carolina's offense ranks 74th in the nation in scoring and 93rd in total offense. The Gamecocks scored just six points against Vanderbilt. They rushed for 26 yards, allowed seven sacks, had five false starts, committed four turnovers, gained less than 300 yards and frustrated Spurrier.

``Just disappointed in the way we performed,'' Spurrier said. ``It was sad.''

So sad that, for the first time since Spurrier was hired, Gamecocks fans booed.

``I just assumed they were booing me and the coaches for a bad play call,'' Spurrier said. ``I hope they weren't booing our players. I've always sort of gone under the thought that professional players get paid, so you can boo them all you want. They accept that. But college kids are amateurs. I don't think you should boo them.''

Carolina attempted a season-high 43 passes against Vanderbilt and ran a season-low 22 times, only 12 of which were designed runs. Cory Boyd averaged 9.8 yards on five rushes. Mike Davis has 11 carries in the last two games combined.

``There's no question we need to get back to what we were going earlier in the year with Mike and Cory getting a whole bunch of carries,'' Spurrier said.

That might play into Tennessee's hands. After a shaky start against the run, the Vols held Georgia to 69 yards and Mississippi State to 135. Alabama had 147, but most of that came after the pass opened up the run.

South Carolina has allowed an SEC-high 26 sacks.

However, UT has an SEC-low nine sacks.

Chavis said that should be a fun battle to see if a weak pass-rush team can get a sack against a poor pass protecting team.

What hasn't been fun for Chavis is watching his defense get burned time after time. The defense has allowed at least 470 yards in three games while holding the opponent to less than 335 yards in just one game.

The main culprit is a pass defense that ranks last in the SEC efficiency.

Penalties were also crucial against Alabama. UT committed six defensive penalties that continued drives. The Vols had eight defensive penalties entering the Alabama game.

``What we've got to do is take care of Tennessee, be as good as we can be, play each play like it's the last play we'll ever play and if we'll approach it that way, were plenty good enough to play winning football,'' Chavis said.

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