It's becoming increasingly obvious that Tennessee's offensive line is a different animal with Michael Munoz in the lineup.
With Munoz missing Game 9 vs. Miami
due to a leg infection, the Vols struggled in both pass protection and run blocking. With Massive Michael back for Game 10 at Mississippi State
, however, Tennessee's blocking was probably the best it has been all season.
''Getting Michael Munoz back made a tremendous difference Saturday, and will for the remainder of the year,'' head coach Phillip Fulmer said.
The return of guard Jason Respert was significant, as well. Also back from health problems, Respert replaced Sean Young at guard and opened some gaping holes in the Mississippi State defense.
''Jason Respert hadn't played in four or five weeks to any extent,'' Fulmer noted, ''but he made a heck of a difference in the ballgame. Collectively, the whole group of offensive linemen played well.''
The offensive linemen don't do all of the blocking, of course. Tennessee relies heavily on its tight end and fullback to clear the way for its tailbacks, and these positions came through big-time last weekend.
''Jason Witten, although it didn't show up in his number of catches, did a fantastic job blocking,'' Fulmer said. ''And Troy Fleming probably had his best game here at Tennessee.''