Throughout the beginning of this season, the Tennessee secondary has shined
the brightest when the pressure was the highest.
The highly-touted preseason rankings have translated into a passing defense
that already has 11 interceptions.
But as successful as Tennessee has been defending opponents' passing games,
they now face their biggest challenge when versatile Georgia quarterback
Quincy Carter makes his Neyland Stadium debut on Saturday evening.
"He's gonna want to come in here and prove a point that he can play in our
house," Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin said.
Martin and Carter fostered a friendship last January when they both
attended a football awards ceremony in Atlanta. The two quarterbacks
learned they have more in common than just a similar playing style and a
love for the game and continue to communicate regularly.
"We hardly talk about football," Martin said. "We usually talk about what
we are going to do the next time we see each other."
Not withstanding a pregame rendezvous, the next time the two dynamic
quarterbacks meet will be in this weekend's SEC matchup of top-10
In addition to all the intangibles that Carter brings to the Bulldogs, the
Tennessee secondary will be under the added pressure of trying to impress
and simultaneously depress Georgia's defensive coordinator, Kevin
Ramsey was the architect of the stellar Tennessee secondary and a key
ingredient to the Vols' success that led to the national championship.
After last season ended, Ramsey accepted the defensive coordinator job at
"(Georgia tries) to make you execute; it's kind of what we do defensively,"
Tennessee Head Coach Phil Fulmer said. "That's probably the reason coach
Donnan hired Kevin. We've done it as well as anyone around and Kevin has
done a good job."
While the secondary was initially upset over the loss of Ramsey, the
players came to understand Ramsey's move and appreciate what he had
accomplished during his coaching stint at UT.
"I think that was for the best, that he did what he had to do," safety Deon
Grant said. "I just took what he taught me and use it in my
In Georgia, Ramsey has inherited a defense loaded with weapons, but has yet
to reach their potential.
Currently the Bulldogs are No. 8 in the conference in defense, allowing 340
total yards per game. However, the Bulldogs do lead the SEC in turnover
margin with seven fumble recoveries and five interceptions for a plus-5
The Bulldogs are led on defense by outside linebacker Boss Bailey, the
brother of first-round draft pick Champ Bailey, who has tallied 22 tackles
on the season. Bailey is assisted on defense by fellow linebacker Will
Witherspoon, who has made 21 tackles.
Even though he's not the starting cornerback, junior Jamie Henderson leads
the Bulldogs with three interceptions.
"They've got a good strong defense that can pressure you from the inside or
the outside," Fulmer said.
With Ramsey only a year removed from the Tennessee program, there are
concerns that his knowledge of the offense will allow a slight
"With Coach Ramsey being on the defensive coordinator, he is going to know
our offense," said running back Travis Henry, "but we just have to run the
ball hard and play Tennessee football."
However, it could be said that Tennessee has the edge on offense. Knowing
how Ramsey prefers to defend certain areas of the UT offense may give
Tennessee a edge in the play-calling department.
Published: Fri Oct 08, 1999 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 01:59 p.m.