Originally created 09/16/99

Stats aside, Vols wary of No. 4 Gators



KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin has seen the eye-popping stats, and he's certain things will be different.

No way does he expect to see the same Florida defense that ranks last in the Southeastern Conference when the No. 2 Vols play the No. 4 Gators on Saturday in Gainesville.

"Against us they're always faster, they're always bigger, and they always go to the right places," Martin said.

Theories vary as to how the Gators, with 10 new defensive starters, yielded 865 yards to Western Michigan and Central Florida. Practically all of it, 784 yards, was in the air.

"Maybe it was due to the nature of the games we've had (29- and 31-point victories)," Florida coach Steve Spurrier said. "Maybe we're just not very good covering passes right now."

Western Michigan threw for 405 yards, 314 of it in the first half of what was at the time a tight game. By the second game, the defense tightened even though Central Florida threw for 379 yards, almost all of it came after Florida was comfortably ahead and playing substitutes.

"I haven't seen a team just drive, drive, drive against that defense, but they did give up big plays," Martin said. "But you can forget about all the games they've played. It's going to be a different Florida defense out there Saturday."

Tennessee also knows Florida didn't go all out against two lesser opponents. And even Gators defensive coordinator Jon Hoke admits as much.

"There will be more things in the game plan" this weekend, he said.

Much is made of all the new Florida starters, but there is still a good deal of experience on the defense. Seven of the starters are sophomores. All of them played last year as freshmen, which says a lot about their abilities.

On the defensive line, Derrick Chambers, Buck Gurley, Gerard Warren and Alex Brown had eight starts among them going into the season.

Warren will play for the first time this year following a two-game suspension.

The new linebackers -- Keith Kelsey, Andra Davis and Eugene McCaslin -- replace three players who are all in the NFL now.

In the defensive backfield, all four starters started at least one game before this season.

"They're awfully good," Tennessee offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said. "You hear about them losing 10 starters, but they've got 14, 15 or 16 guys who have played against us. It's not like they're devoid of talent."

In last year's 20-17 overtime victory over the Gators, Tennessee was conservative on offense. The Vols gained 235 yards on 54 plays, the second-lowest number of plays all season.

Martin, making the second start of his career, was 7-of-20 for 64 yards passing.

"I watched that game five or six times this week," he said. "There was so much of me that was missing. I feel bad about that game, but we won, so I feel good."