Devil's Advocate (UT)

In the competitive world of college football, believing is half the battle. And the Tennessee Vols believe they can shut down - or at least SLOW DOWN - the Florida Gators Saturday at The Swamp.

Heck, the Vols did the job last year. Tennessee limited Florida to a season-low 243 total yards - a full 200 yards below the Gators' season average of 445.1 yards per game.

Granted, big plays by Florida's defense and special teams produced a 17-0 first-quarter lead and changed the complexion of the 2008 game.

Granted, Tennessee's '08 offense was so inept that 17 points was all Florida would need.

Granted, Florida superstar Tim Tebow threw just 15 passes all afternoon.

Granted, Gator head coach Urban Meyer seemed content the last three quarters to run the ball, run the clock and take a 30-6 victory back to Gainesville.

No matter how you slice it, though, Tennessee limited Florida to its lowest offensive production of the 2008 season. And that gives Vol defenders a warm fuzzy as they prepare for the 2009 rematch.

"Definitely, that gives us confidence, knowing what we saw them do to other people," junior defensive end Chris Walker said. "We played really sound football against them, and they didn't gain as many yards and score as many touchdowns against us, so that's something that helps us out."

The confidence level of Vol defenders is heightened by the fact they are allowing just 134.5 yards and 13.0 points per game in 2009. Western Kentucky and UCLA combined to complete a mere 51.3 percent of their passes for a paltry 150 yards. Moreover, Hilltopper and Bruin backs averaged a scant 1.8 yards per carry. That means Tennessee defenders will be feeling good about themselves when they take the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Saturday afternoon.

"I think we will be because I have complete confidence in our defensive coaching staff and the gameplan they're going to give us," Walker said. "I think they'll have us ready for anything Florida can throw at us."

Senior linebacker Rico McCoy is confident, too. He thinks the 2009 Vol defense is superior to the 2008 unit that contained Florida's big-play people last fall.

"The defense did a pretty good job last year, and I think we're even better this year," McCoy said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what the defense can do this year."

That's a very positive sign. After all, believing is half the battle.


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