Chris Walker unleashed

Tennessee defensive line coach Ed Orgeron takes Chris Walker aside before each practice drill, points at the quarterback and says, "Sic him."

OK, maybe it's not quite that simple ... but it's close.

Chris Walker's emergence as a premier pass rusher this spring has been well documented. And a big part of that emergence can be traced to a scheme which frees him to pin back his ears and make a bee-line for the passer.

"It does," Walker said. "We don't really have to worry about contain too much in this scheme. It gives our ends the freedom to go do what we do."

Shortly after joining the Big Orange staff last January Orgeron recognized that Walker's explosive quickness could make him a force on the pass rush. That's why the coach told the player to stop thinking so much and focus on what he does best.

"The big difference in me is confidence," Walker said. "I have a lot of confidence. Last fall I was coming off the ball, looking and feeling. Now Coach O's telling me to come off the ball and just let everything happen – let my instincts kick in the front door."

Walker didn't wait long to kick in the front door during Saturday's scrimmage. On the third play of the No. 1 offense's second possession he stormed into the backfield and stripped quarterback Jonathan Crompton, resulting in a six-yard loss.

Orgeron's eyes lit up when asked about the play.

"That's the best play in football," the Vol aide said, grinning broadly. "There's not a better play in football than the sack/fumble."

Interestingly enough, Tennessee's second-best pass rusher is fellow junior Ben Martin, who plays the same position and shares the same dormitory room.

"There's a lot of competition between Ben and me," Walker said. "We're roommates and we're best friends. If he gets something, I've got to match it or do better, so it's a lot of competition between us."

Orgeron has noticed. Whenever one makes a play in practice, the other seems inspired to do the same.

"It's kind of like a feeding frenzy a little bit," the Vol aide said. "They're competing for sacks and they're quick. But they've got a ways to go. They've still got some things to do to get better."

That may be but it's difficult to imagine Chris Walker getting a lot better on the pass rush. He's so dynamic already that head coach Lane Kiffin routinely has referred to him as being "unblockable" this spring.

Walker's reaction to the praise is in keeping with his modest nature.

"It's humbling," he said. "Coach Kiffin expects a lot out of me. I've just got to keep playing hard, keep coming every day to prepare and not let him down."

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