Berry fancies Tampa-2

All-America safety Eric Berry likes what he has seen of Tennessee's new Tampa-2 defensive scheme; he likes what opponents won't see even better.

"I like the fact that everyone thinks we're playing cover-2 all the time when we're not really playing cover-2 all the time," he said recently, grinning mischievously. "I really like that part of it."

Routinely disguising their coverage gives the Vols' defensive scheme an opportunity to confuse the offense. Thus, as he steps to the line of scrimmage, the opposing quarterback will be wondering: Are the Vols in cover-2 or do they just APPEAR to be in cover-2?

This cat-and-mouse game is just one aspect of new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's Tampa-2 scheme, of course. Though not particularly complex, the Tampa-2 features dozens of intricacies.

"It's a lot of kinks and different little things," Berry said, flashing another grin. "I can't tell you all about it ... I don't want to let everybody know what we're going to do. But there are some different things in there."

In addition to a new scheme, Berry is adjusting to a new secondary coach this spring. Willie Mack Garza, fresh from stints at Texas Christian and North Dakota State, is the new overseer of Vol defensive backs.

"Coach Garza is kind of straight-forward, as far as what he wants, your technique and where you're supposed to be and disguises and stuff," Berry said. "He's going to be straight-up. He's very honest, as far as his coaching, which everyone in the DB room respects. He's a very good coach. We just have to get used to him for a while."

If he adjusts to Garza as quickly as he adjusted to the rigors of college football, Berry will be just fine. The 5-11, 205-pounder has started all 26 games at UT, recording 12 interceptions and an SEC-record 487 return yards. With two years of collegiate eligibility remaining, he already ranks as probably the NCAA's premier defensive back ... and maybe the NCAA's premier defensive player.

So, what is left for him to accomplish?

"Still go out there and work," he said, an incredulous look creasing his boyish face. "If I didn't have anything to do I would've stopped playing football. There's a lot I need to do – techniques I need to work on.

"Shoot, we haven't won a championship here, so there's a lot that needs to be done."


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