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UCLA FOOTBALL

The UCLA-Tennessee matchups start on the sidelines and extend into the seats

Bruins offensive coordinator Norm Chow and Volunteers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin have championship credits. Then there's all those fans wearing orange and singing along to 'Rocky Top.'

September 12, 2009

UCLA heads for the Smoky Mountains to play Tennessee, looking to show that last week's victory over San Diego State wasn't done with smoke and mirrors. The Volunteers will be out to avenge last year's loss to the Bruins at the Rose Bowl. Times staff writer Chris Foster looks at the key matchups and issues:

Highly coordinated

Tennessee offers the full Monte.

Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin joined his son, Volunteers head Coach Lane Kiffin, in Knoxville, bringing with him 25 years of NFL experience.

Kiffin's Tampa Bay defense smothered opponents on the way to a Super Bowl win in 2002.

And it doesn't really compare with what UCLA faced from San Diego State.

The Aztecs' oddball 3-3-5 defense was "more complicated because you really didn't know what they would do," UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow said.

Kiffin's scheme is less complicated, Chow said, but "they run it so well that it is hard to stop them."

Of course, Chow has a reputation too. His offenses have helped three teams to win national championships and three quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy.

"He mixes it up very well and does a lot of things simple," Tennessee safety Eric Berry said. "His teams do everything to perfection. Plus, you got to stay focused on your keys because he will throw a few tricks at you."

Chow and Kiffin crossed paths once in the NFL, when Chow was the Tennessee Titans' offensive coordinator. Kiffin came away with a 13-10 victory.

Crowded out?

The noise all week has been about the noise, and how UCLA's young team will handle 100,000 people whose lives seem to dawn and set with Tennessee football.

Will quarterback Kevin Prince, a redshirt freshman, get rattled by the prattle? Will the first UCLA turnover make the Bruins long for the library-like Rose Bowl? Will Tennessee band members develop lip blisters from a record number of "Rocky Top" renditions?

Questions that await answers, but UCLA defensive end and Oklahoma native Korey Bosworth is sure about one thing, joking that, "There will be 100,000 rednecks against us down there, and those are my people."

Focus on Brown

The Volunteers have senior Montario Hardesty at tailback, but all eyes in Knoxville are focused on freshman Bryce Brown.

Brown, whose eligibility was held up by the NCAA Clearinghouse for a time, is a plum recruit. When the NCAA called to say he was eligible, Kiffin immediately called the team together at practice to give them the news.

Brown didn't disappoint, gaining 104 yards in 11 carries in a 63-7 victory over Western Kentucky last week.

Hit and miss

Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton threw five touchdown passes last week against Western Kentucky -- after throwing four scoring passes all of last season.

But he also had two passes intercepted last week.

Against UCLA last season, he completed 19 of 41 passes for 189 yards with one interception.

If the Bruins stop the run, their chances improve.

Numbers game

History is not on UCLA's side. The Bruins have a 6-12-3 record south of the Mason-Dixon Line, not counting bowl games.

They are 3-7-2 on the road against Southeastern Conference teams, with victories in Alabama (2001), Tennessee (1978) and Florida (1941).

UCLA can hope the number the Volunteers have on their minds is "1."

Tennessee plays its SEC opener against top-ranked Florida next week and will have to be careful about peeking down the road.

Delay that tune

UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel's hopes and dreams this week were summed up in one statement:

"I think they are going to play ["Rocky Top"] an inordinate amount of times. We would like to keep it down if at all possible."

By the numbers

*--* UCLA CATEGORY TENN 33.0 Scoring 63.0 14.0 Points given up 7.0 215.0 Passing offense 277.0 144.0 Rushing offense 380.0 359.0 Total offense 657.0 238.0 Passing defense 49.0 39.0 Rushing defense 34.0 277.0 Total defense 83.0 *--*

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chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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