If you can't beat em, join em. After two disappointing seasons in Knoxville and two losses to Alabama, Tennessee Volunteers coach Derek Dooley hired former Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri to install the Crimson Tide's defense.
However, despite the success Nick Saban has had with it in Tuscaloosa, his first year wasn't easy, with the lowlight coming in a humiliating home loss to Louisiana-Monroe.
Over at Rocky Top Talk, Volunteer fans are worried about whether Sunseri will have a similar adjustment process, particularly against a N.C. State team that has run the same offense for several years:
So, here's what we know: Sal Sunseri is going to run something approximating a 3-4 and it'll probably be based at least in part on what Nick Saban would do. Saban's defenses are among the more cerebral at the college level, That kind of defense takes time to install properly, especially in the first year. Learning assignments and calls - especially for the Mike LB - is heavy on terminology and communication. In that sense, we're in good shape with Herman Lathers, who at this point could pretty much be run over by a bus and come back to play in Week 3. As far as the rest of the defense, I'm not as sure.
SEC defenses are supposed to have an edge in athleticism against most other conferences; we'll see on Saturday whether that will be enough for Tennessee.
For more coverage of the game, stay tuned to the SB Nation Atlanta StoryStream. For more on N.C. State football, head over to Backing the Pack. For more on Tennessee football, check out Rocky Top Talk.