Power football

It's appropriate that Alabama's football program has a mascot that is huge, powerful and basically void of finesse. The Crimson Tide offense operates much like a stampeding elephant - charging straight ahead and leveling everything that gets in the way.

The Tennessee defenders entrusted with slowing down the Tide Saturday in Tuscaloosa couldn't be happier about this. After facing a steady diet of finesse-oriented Spread Option attacks, they're eager to play some good old-fashioned power football.

"I love it," junior defensive end Chris Walker said. "You don't have to think too much about what's going on - who's got the reverse and who's got the quarterback. They're just going to line up and come at you and see if you can stop it."

Senior linebacker Rico McCoy agrees.

"I'd much rather face this type of offense," he said. "It leaves the ball game a little more in our hands - the front seven's hands - with them trying to grind out the ball and stuff like that. I'm loving it."

McCoy's fondness for power football is understandable. Facing run-oriented teams the past two games, he registered 16 tackles vs. Auburn and 9 stops vs. Georgia.

"Georgia came in here wanting to run the ball with a lot of two-back, double-tight end formations," McCoy recalled. "That let me have a big outcome in the game."

He should play a key role this weekend, as well, since top-ranked Alabama is even more committed to the ground attack than Auburn and Georgia are.

"My defensive linemen and linebackers will have a lot to do with the outcome of this ball game, and I'm excited," McCoy noted. "It's more man-on-man football. You line up, fullback on linebacker, and see who makes the play. I'm looking forward to it."

Based on the brisk pace at practice this week, McCoy believes his fellow defenders are equally excited about playing some power football.

"Guys are into it - flying around," he said. "It's going to come to who blinks first, really. There's no trickery. That's what I like about it. I'm not out there worrying about who's getting it on a reverse, the flea-flicker and stuff like that. It's just man-on-man football, and I'm up for that sound."

Alabama's offense is much like the pro attacks Vol defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin faced during his 26 years in the NFL. That suggests the ageless UT aide will have a good defensive game plan in place for Saturday's game.

"As far as the defense playing base-style offenses, we come out pretty well against those offenses," McCoy said. "But Coach Kiffin has a great game plan for everything. I love the game plans. Sometimes guys may make mistakes here or there. He may make a mistake here or there but it's not too often. I love the game plans."

Fans may not realize this, but Kiffin's defensive game plans change significantly from week to week, based on the opposing offense's personnel, strengths, weaknesses and tendencies.

"It varies a lot," McCoy said. "He's a guy that wants to take advantage of weaknesses, try to stop their strengths. We're changing stuff every week."

This week's changes will be especially crucial. Slowing a herd of stampeding elephants won't be easy.

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