9 TENNESSEE

August 04, 1995

If the schedule is to be taken as an omen, this could be a
strange year at Tennessee. The traditional
third-Saturday-in-October battle against Alabama, a staple every
year except one since 1928, will take place on the second
Saturday of October this season, a shift only slightly less
jarring in Knoxville than if Thanksgiving were moved to a
Wednesday.

With this in mind, maybe it isn't all that bizarre to predict
that 1995 will be the year Tennessee's oft-maligned defense
finally equals its offense as the team's calling card.

Then again, that might not be the best phrase to use these days
around campus, where it was discovered this spring that 17,000
phone calls were charged over a two-year period to a university
employee's stolen access code. Twenty-nine of the 56 guilty
students identified so far are football players.

Punishments have varied. The Volunteers would have 10 returning
starters on defense, but senior Jason Parker, the team's best
defensive back, and junior Leland Taylor, a starting tackle,
have been suspended for the season because of their phone
follies. Junior middle linebacker Tyrone Hines, junior fullback
Chester Ford, junior cornerback James Smith and sophomore
reserve receiver Andy McCullough have been suspended from the
opener.

As if those problems weren't enough, starting senior defensive
tackle Shane Burton has been on probation after head-butting a
window during a drunken spree at a bar in the spring. "I just
hope he can do the same thing to Alabama," said Tom West, owner
of the Last Lap, the bar where the incident took place. Burton
is expected to play this fall, though, after completing a
counseling program--and taking some aspirin.

The defensive players who do make it to the field will be under
the command of new coordinator John Chavis, formerly the Vols'
linebackers coach. Chavis is known as an excitable fellow who
tends to inspire players. "He's intense," says Raymond Austin,
a junior defensive back. "He'll say, 'I'm going to get a drink
of water,' and the way he says it makes you want to say, 'I'm
going to go get a drink of water with you, Coach.'"

Chavis can lead the players to water, but can he make them
think--and perform--like a unit that's worthy of recognition? Fans
clamored for a high-profile replacement when former defensive
coordinator Larry Marmie left for UCLA, but coach Phillip Fulmer
promoted Chavis, who has been part of the coaching staff since
1989. "I would like to think he'll stamp his personality on the
defense," Fulmer says, "and his personality is very aggressive."

Spring drills brought signs that a transformation is occurring.
"The offense noticed it," junior receiver Joey Kent says. "We'd
watch film and get mad at the way they were beating up on us in
practice. That made the offense step up, and that's going to
make the whole team better."

All of which is key for a program with an offense that's
traditionally outstanding and a defense that's traditionally
chasing opponents as they head toward the end zone. This year's
lineup is filled with guys like Austin, who is talented--and
experienced, after being thrown into the Southeastern Conference
mosh pit as a freshman. The Volunteers have starter-quality
depth at many positions, and with Hines, senior Scott Galyon and
either senior Jesse Sanders or senior George Kidd, they'll have
the best linebacking trio at Tennessee in years.

But the defense wouldn't be this year's big story if sophomore
Peyton Manning hadn't been anointed the starting quarterback
earlier than expected. This fall was to have been the debut of
either Manning or classmate Branndon Stewart after they'd spent
their freshman year practicing and backing up senior Jerry
Colquitt. However, Colquitt suffered a season-ending knee injury
in the first game of 1994, and by the fifth, Manning was
starting. He and Stewart split time the rest of the season, but
Manning was named SEC Freshman of the Year and Stewart
transferred to Texas A&M.

This season Manning is bigger, stronger and better versed in the
Vols' game plan. He can count on a cadre of receivers--Kent and
senior Nilo Silvan, plus talented sophomores Marcus Nash,
Maurice Staley, Greg Kyler and McCullough--and the usual fleet of
talented Tennessee tailbacks. Not only will Manning have plenty
of options, but he'll also probably have lots of time to explore
them. Four of the five starting offensive linemen are back for
their third year as regulars.

The Vols will need that talent because the schedule is tough.
The biggest hurdles on the calendar will be Sept. 16, when the
Vols travel to Florida Field to face the Gators, and Oct. 14,
the second Saturday of the month, when they take on the Tide at
Legion Field. Tennessee last won in Gainesville in 1971, and it
hasn't won in Birmingham since 1985. In each of those wins, the
Tennessee defense should note, the opposition was held to two
TDs or less. "We've got guys who have been in big games," senior
defensive end Steve White says. "We think this is going to be
our year on defense."

--Dana Gelin

COLOR PHOTO: PATRICK MURPHY-RACEY The Vols' Austin (28) and Galyon (93) can put the squeeze on the opposition. [Raymond Austin and Scott Galyon tackling Louisiana State University football player]

THE DATA BOX

Head coach: Phillip Fulmer
Career college record: 21-6-1
Fourth year at Tennessee (21-6-1)

1994 RECORD: 8-4
SEC record: 5-3 (second in Eastern Division)

L at UCLA 25-23
W at Georgia 41-23
L Florida 31-0
L at Mississippi State 24-21
W Washington State 10-9
W Arkansas 38-21
L Alabama 17-13
W at South Carolina 31-22
W Memphis 24-13
W Kentucky 52-0
W at Vanderbilt 65-0
W Virginia Tech 45-23 (Gator Bowl)

Final '94 ranking: 22 AP, 18 CNN/USA Today

Lettermen lost: 23
Lettermen returning: 49
Returning starters, offense: 7
Returning starters, defense: 10

KEY GAMES:
Sept. 9 Georgia
Sept. 16 at Florida
Oct. 14 Alabama (at Birmingham)

PLAYER TO WATCH

His first stay at Tennessee lasted 12 days. Leonard Little
arrived on campus Aug. 10, 1993, and worked his way into a
second-string linebacker spot before the football office got
word he was academically ineligible and would have to leave.
"It was real disappointing," Little says, "but I'm not thinking
about that anymore." He re-signed with Tennessee after a
two-year stint at Coffeyville (Kans.) Community College, and
this time he's ready to build a lasting relationship with the
Volunteers. He's slated to start at defensive end, because
that's where the Vols need him most, but he could also play
outside linebacker.

Little--6'3", 220--has a body-fat percentage of 4.5 and a
40-yard-dash time that's even lower (4.46). The only knock on
him is his lack of experience against SEC-caliber teams. "Has he
been tested against those folks? Absolutely not," says Tennessee
defensive coordinator John Chavis. "But he shows you enough to
get you really excited."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)