Terps have a monster at fullback

At first glance, you think it's a typographical error. Surely, Maryland fullback James Lynch is 5-11 and 217 pounds ... not 5-11 and 271 pounds.

Nope. The numbers are solid, and so is Lynch. His work as the lead blocker enabled Terrapin tailbacks Chris Downs (1,113 yards) and Josh Allen (396 yards) to combine for 1,500 yards, 21 rushing touchdowns and a whopping 6.0 yards-per-carry average.

When asked what he has noticed about Maryland's tailbacks, Vol defensive coordinator John Chavis replied without hesitation.

''The biggest thing you notice is the fullback in front of them blocking,'' he said. ''They've got a 270-pound fullback that has been a tremendous asset for them in running the football. Not to take anything away from the tailback, but when the fullback's knocking folks around, it's a little bit easier to run behind him.''

Because Maryland enjoyed so much success running the ball behind Lynch's blocking, the Terrapins don't rely a lot on finesse or gimmicks.

''You get a lot of motion, a lot of formations ... some things that make you prepare,'' Chavis said. ''But we won't see anything we haven't seen before. Maryland doesn't have a market on anything that's unique. Anything they can show us we've already seen. It's just a matter of how well we can handle it.''

The Vols need to handle Terrapin quarterback Scott McBrien, for sure. Though generally overlooked, he passed for more yards this season than UT's Casey Clausen (2,377 yards to 2,055) and posted a better passing-efficiency rating than his Vol counterpart (143.5 to 134.8). McBrien's dramatic improvement the second half of the season made Maryland a much better offense.

''I don't think there's any comparison,'' Chavis said. ''Where they improved was at quarterback. He (McBrien) is doing a great job running their offense. He feels comfortable with what they're doing. They're a better overall football team but that's where they made the most improvement.''

Although Tennessee shut out Vanderbilt and Kentucky to close the regular season, Chavis says those games are ancient history and will have no carryover effect against Maryland.

''They've had a layoff and we've had a layoff,'' he said. ''The team that does the best job of handling that will probably have the edge.''

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