KNOXVILLE - The University of Tennessee football team won't step foot in Tiger Stadium today.
The Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC) will do a walk-through on their own campus today before flying to Baton Rouge for Saturday's game at 12th-ranked LSU (4-0, 2-0).
First-year UT head coach Derek Dooley, like many contemporary coaches, doesn't see the point in walking through a serene stadium that will look and sound nothing like its gameday appearance.
"I've kind of changed on that," Dooley said. "I used to like that. And it kind of hit me. They say, 'Go to the stadium, because you get a feel for it.' So you go, and it's real quiet, and you see the field and say, 'Boy, it's a nice stadium,' and you do your little walk-through. And then the next time you come out, the next day, it's like, 'Raaaaah!' It's like a monster that came to life.
"And I finally said, 'We may as well just show up when it's a monster, because you don't really get a feel for what it's like, even though they say, 'Go get acclimated.' But nobody's in the stands. So we just go to the stadium when it's game day, and we have a little better success that way.
"We'll do a little walk-through here."
Dooley, an LSU assistant from 2000 to '04 and Louisiana Tech's head coach from 2007 to '09, said the Tiger Stadium experience "depends on how the Tigers are playing."
"If the Tigers are playing good, it's hard to be an opposing coach," Dooley said. "If the Tigers are not playing good, sometimes it's hard to be a coach for the Tigers. But it's about like most great venues. The best thing the opponents can do is come down there and play well, because if you allow the crowd to be a weapon, it'll be a weapon. It's no different than Neyland Stadium.
"Look, that's one of the things that makes this conference special, these game days around the league, and [LSU's stadium] is one of them. Ours is one of them."
No sack attack
UT defensive line coach Chuck Smith knows a thing or two about sacks. He piled them up during his career as a Vols and NFL defensive end.
The Vols have just three sacks through four games, though. That ranks 112th out of 120 major college programs.
Smith said his team has produced several quarterback hurries, but he doesn't exactly brag about a unit that he claims has left "15 or 16" sacks unclaimed.
"At the end of the day, also, we've seen where we've had opportunities to get there," Smith said. "We've seen where they've converted them into first downs. I guess it is a little encouraging, but not really, because I'm not in the business of getting pressures. We had, what, how many pressures the last game? Fourteen, 12 hits?
"I don't care about getting pressures. I want to get sacks and bludgeon the quarterback."
Smith loves the potential of freshmen Corey Miller and Ooltewah's Jacques Smith off the edge, but he said his front four overall is "a work in progress."
"I think people would feel a lot better about it as we go on, and the guys keep growing and I keep growing with the guys," Smith said. "We're not far off. We're not as far off as people probably think we are. But the eye in the sky don't lie, either. You don't get credit for missed sacks."
Junior end Malik Jackson said UT's sack total should spike this week.
"They show a lot of tendencies," Jackson said of the Tigers. "Once we get into the game, if we do what the coaches told us, we should be fine. We should get a lot of sacks this week."
Contact Wes Rucker at email@example.com or 865-851-9739. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/wesrucker or Facebook at www.facebook.com/tfpvolsbeat.