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New look, same tough Vols 'D'

Tennessee defenders, including Montori Hughes (93), hem in USC running back Kenny Miles during the second quarter. The Volunteers held the Gamecocks to 65 rushing yards.
Tennessee defenders, including Montori Hughes (93), hem in USC running back Kenny Miles during the second quarter. The Volunteers held the Gamecocks to 65 rushing yards.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee's jerseys changed. Its defense didn't.

The Vols continued to stifle opposing offenses on Saturday in Neyland Stadium. This time it was South Carolina, by a 31-13 score.

UT almost shut out the Gamecocks in the first half. The Gamecocks drove into UT territory once, to the 26, which resulted in their lone first-half score, a 47-yard field goal by Spencer Lanning.

The Vols' defense started fast, forcing fumbles on USC's first two drives.

"It was huge," Vols coach Lane Kiffin said. "We played great defense lately, but we had not been an explosive defense."

The Vols were plenty explosive against USC, forcing four turnovers

"They really went after the ball today," Kiffin said of his defense.

UT also recorded two sacks, its first since the Florida game in September. The Vols were able to pressure Garcia without their best pass rushing defensive end; junior Chris Walker missed the game with a sore back.

USC quarterback Stephen Garcia threw for 300 yards, but most came as he tried to lead the Gamecocks back in the second half. He completed 50 percent of his passes (25 of 50) for one touchdown and an interception.

"We had to rattle Garcia," Kiffin said, "because if he gets in rhythm and starts running around making plays with those big receivers, it can be a long day."

UT also contained Garcia on the ground, which was a major concern voiced by Kiffin last week. Garcia ran for 8 yards.

UT's defense allowed a touchdown for the first time in 175 minutes, a streak that started in the fourth quarter of the Auburn game, when Garcia threw a touchdown pass to Moe Brown in the third quarter.

Kiffin said strong defensive play lately is direct result of senior defensive tackle Dan Williams' improved play.

"Dan has really been the center of change in our defense, as far as our defense going from a good defense to ... I think playing like a great defense," Kiffin said. "It all starts with Dan. Dan is playing so much better up there. He's a dominant force.

Williams had a sack, four tackles, a fumble recovery and three quarterback hurries.

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