Devil's Advocate (UT)

There are several reasons that Tennessee should handle Ohio University with relative ease Saturday night.

For instance:

- The Vols are looking for some home-field redemption after suffering a lackluster 19-15 loss to UCLA in their last Neyland Stadium performance.

"We didn't like the way we played last time at home," head coach Lane Kiffin said this week.

- Tennessee's hard-fought 23-13 loss at Florida last weekend has restored the confidence that vanished after the Vols' ugly effort vs. UCLA.

"Obviously, we wanted to win the game but it was a win for us on a lot of different levels - like the confidence of our team," defensive end Chris Walker said. "The young guys are seeing just how close we are to being a really good team and the things we can get better on.

"That definitely gave us a big confidence boost to go down to The Swamp and play with the No. 1 team in the country. It shows us we can play with anybody."

- Ohio's defense is very similar to the one Tennessee defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin utilizes. Facing the same defense it sees each day in practice should help a Volunteer attack that struggled mightily in Games 2 and 3.

"I think the good thing about Ohio ... is that they do run a similar defense to what our defense runs," Kiffin said. "Their defensive coordinator (Jimmy Burrow) has a background with my dad. He played at Nebraska (as did Monte). There's some common coaches they know and they've spent a lot of time together. They've really installed a lot of the Tampa defense. I hope that helps us because we practice against it all the time."

- Tennessee's players got a little too cocky after their 63-7 Game 1 blowout of Western Kentucky and played poorly in Game 2. Now that they've lost back-to-back games to UCLA and top-ranked Florida, their hunger is back.

"I like where they're at because I think they realize that if they practice the way we're trying to get them to practice - we have physical practices and we have focus - we can play well," Kiffin said. "We played well in Game 1. We did some good things in Game 3. We didn't play as well in Game 2 and I've said this before: I don't think we practiced as well preparing for Game 2."

- The Vol offense is due to break loose after scoring just 13 points against UCLA and 13 more against Florida. The game plan won't be so run-oriented this week, so the passing attack will get a chance to provide some big plays.

- The Vol defense is playing lights-out. Tennessee is allowing just 16.3 points and 197.3 yards per game. That's outstanding, especially considering how little help the defense has gotten from the Vol offense.

- Tennessee's run defense is limiting opponents to 3.0 yards per carry. Ohio averages just 2.9 yards per carry and has yet to score a rushing touchdown this season. That means the Bobcats will have to throw the ball a lot, playing right into the hands of a UT pass rush that already has 10 sacks and a UT secondary that is the strongest area of the team.

Bottom line: Ohio U is a decent team but the Bobcats will find the going tough Saturday night against a Tennessee team that is eager to snap out of its offensive doldrums, snap a two-game losing streak and put some snap in the step of 100,000 Big Orange fans.


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