Sept. 22, 2009
BY DREW EDWARDS
Tennessee graduate assistant coach Mitch Browning is no stranger to the state of Ohio. He grew up there, played at Capital University in Columbus, coached at Miami University and Ohio State and maintains a lot of connections in his home state even now.
Browning talks about those connections, UT's offensive line, life in the SEC and more in this week's assistant coach Q&A.
You're from Ohio, and you played college football there. Any connections to Ohio University?
"Not really, other than competing against them when I was at Kent State. We played them a couple times when I was at Minnesota, and they beat us one time. Obviously these are guys that are going to come down here with a chip on their shoulder, feel like that maybe they were overlooked in recruiting and should have been recruited by the SEC or the Big Ten and unfortunately weren't."
You've coached in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Big East during your career. What do you think of SEC play so far?
"Tremendous talent. The passion for football is tremendous, and from week to week, it's a grind."
You're working the offensive line, and primarily guards and centers. What have you seen and who's stood out to you so far?
"All those guys are tremendous kids. Their attitude, their work ethic, they've bought into what we're trying to do and our system. I think that's probably the biggest thing. Their approach to everything. They show up with great enthusiasm.
"You look at the Sullins twins, they're kind of like the OU guys. They show up here, they walk-on at Tennessee, they both earn scholarships. They both have done a tremendous job. They've paid the price, and all of a sudden they're making a big, big contribution to the team."
Watching that game Saturday it seemed like you guys were able to get some pretty nice running lanes at times. And that's a pretty good defense. What were you guys doing so effectively against Florida to create that space?
"Really just executing our gameplan. That's what it comes down to. That's the thing. You want to study group excellence? Study a great offense, because it takes 11 guys working together on every single snap.
"At times, we didn't execute very well, but the times when we sprung a runner free, we executed extremely well. That wasn't just from tackle to tackle or tight end to tackle. That was at every position -- Up front, wide receivers, running backs, quarterback. That's what it takes to be great on offense. It takes a great team effort, collectively."
In that zone scheme, the idea is to get your guys into the second level at times. You're a former linebacker. How tough is that matchup from the other side when you're facing a lineman?
"It's tough. It's a mismatch. You're looking at a 300-plus pounder going against a linebacker in the 250-pound or under range. And the fear of being cut (blocked) adds a different dimension to it. It's extremely tough."