The Volunteers figure to be stronger defensively than when they have the ball. Oh, Tennessee still has some firepower left over from last season's 9-2-2 team, which won the SEC title, mostly in the persons of quarterback Andy Kelly (2,241 yards, 14 touchdowns) and wideout Carl Pickens (page 72). But the Vols are a bit thin at running back and have holes to plug in the offensive line despite the return of center John Fisher and guard Tom Myslinski.
The most remarkable thing about the Tennessee defense is the secondary, which is fast enough to win a lot of relay races. Floyd Miley, Jeremy Lincoln, Rod Lewis and Dale Carter all cover 40 yards in less than 4.4 seconds. The best of the bunch is Carter, who last season intercepted seven passes, including two in the Sugar Bowl; broke up eight more; and was the nation's top kick returner, with a 29.8 yard average. Other names to remember: Carey Bailey at tackle and linebacker Earnest Fields, who led the team in tackles, with 140.
"The offense has been the tempo setter around here through the years because of some very good personnel," says Johnny Majors, the dean of SEC coaches. "It's been a long, long time since the defense had the edge. We're better physically than we've been in some time, but at the same time I don't have that much vision of superiority or grandeur."
The winner of Georgia Tech's Sept. 28 visit to Clemson is likely to claim the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. That's one of seven home games for coach Ken Hatfield's Tigers, who figure to be just about as good as last season on defense—they were No. 1 nationally—and better on offense, especially if the young line comes around as expected. Clemson's main weapons will be senior quarterback DeChane Cameron, who completed 49 of 82 passes in the Tigers' last five games; tailback Ronald Williams, whose 941 yards rushing last season was second nationally among freshmen; and sophomore wide receiver Terry Smith, whose 34 catches and 480 yards were both school records.
The sterling defense will feature All-ACC middle guard Rob Bodine and 310-pound tackle Chester McGlockton on the line. The biggest imponderable at Clemson is why senior linebacker Ed McDaniel has never made the All-ACC team. He has led Clemson in tackles in two of the last three years, and last season his 109 stops—11th best in the conference—were 24 more than anybody else on the team had. Perhaps the voters have overlooked him because he's only 5'11" and 220 pounds. Time for McDaniel to get noticed.
13. Ohio State
University president Gordon Gee—the man who gave Colorado coach Bill McCartney a 15-year contract extension just before he left Boulder for Columbus—says that he won't discuss an extension for Buckeye coach John Cooper until after this season, which means that Cooper might have to pack his bags if his team doesn't improve on last season's 7-4-1 record. Ohio State missed out on the Rose Bowl by virtually giving Michigan a 16-13 victory in Columbus when a win would have earned the Buckeyes the trip to Pasadena. That took so much starch out of State that in the Liberty Bowl, Cooper's team was simply awful, losing 23-11 to a mediocre Air Force.
"We completely embarrassed ourselves and the university," says tailback Robert Smith.