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Outzen presents double problem for Vols

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Posted: Thursday December 31, 1998 10:32 PM


If I'm Tennessee's defensive coordinator, Florida State quarterback Marcus Outzen presents a double problem for me. Not only do I have to worry about his arm but I have to be concerned with his feet too. As I mentioned in our running game segment, when Outzen made his first start against Wake Forest, FSU coaches kept the game plan simple. But against Florida, while the game plan remained simple, Florida State spread the field and gave Outzen the green light to take off and run if he had the opportunity. And he did that successfully on several occasions keeping the Gator defense off balance.

When Florida state has the ball, look for a bunch of short range passes of the 10-15 yard variety to all-everything wideout Peter Warrick, and watch this guy do his thing after he catches the ball. Another wrinkle: don't be surprised if you see Warrick line up at quarterback and run the option. It's something we can expect from a Bobby Bowden team, so Tennessee had better be prepared for it. Now the key for the Tennessee defense is simple: Stop Warrick and you go a long way toward stopping FSU. Even so, the Seminoles have a stable of receivers who can get the job done. And remember, against Florida, Warrick also threw a touchdown pass, so this Florida State offense is not just about Marcus Outzen. FSU has a lot of weapons and coach Bowden has a history of using a little trickery to throw his opponents of guard.

As for Tennessee's passing game, I think the development of quarterback Tee Martin just as super running back Jamaal Lewis went down with an injury was a huge plus . Martin established himself as a real team leader. At the start of the season the Vols coaching staff had him roll out of the pocket a lot. But in the game against South Carolina, Martin was allowed to stay in the pocket where he could get comfortable and get vertical with his passing game.

The result? An NCAA record for completions. That was his breakout game and it helped set the table for the remainder of the season. The Vols have two excellent receivers in Peerless Price and Germaine Copeland and Martin knows how to get these guys the ball. But I think Tennessee will have to be concerned that FSU will take a page out of Mississippi State's game plan in the SEC title game when Joe L ee Dunn's defense blitzed just about everybody on the team but his cornerbacks. Ultimately, the plan cost State the game because Tennessee completed a pair of bombs for touchdowns. But for three quarters, Dunn's scheme worked.

The Vols better have an answer for the Noles blitz package because defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews will throw everything at Martin and often.

I don't think either team has an advantage in the passing game. The key to victory will be who wins the perimeter game. That is, which secondary will do the best job of jamming the other team's receivers off their routes and minimizing the big play.

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