This isn’t Tennessee’s first road game of the season. However, when it comes to in-game communication, it might as well be.
Pittsburgh was a nice venue. However, it wasn’t nearly as challenging as Tiger Stadium will be on Saturday when the Vols play LSU. Noon kickoff or not, the crowd will be raucous. The crowd cheering on Pitt was rather tame and engulfed by Tennessee fans who made the trip last month in the Vols’ lone road game to this point in the season.
Sure, there will be plenty of UT fans who make the trip to Baton Rouge, but the crowd will clearly be more purple and gold than orange and white. That can be challenging for any offense in hopes of having clear communication throughout the contest.
“Any time you play against a team on the road, you’re at risk for not being able to communicate as effectively,” Tennessee center Cooper Mays said. “But I think our offense does a really good job of keeping teams quiet, because you know the biggest thing about getting crowds ready, like getting loud. It takes them a second…Our offense goes so fast.
“The plays don’t really let the crowd get involved as much, I don’t think…I mean it can get loud, I’m sure, but I think our offense does a good job kind of curtailing it a little bit.”
Mays might be the wrong guy to ask about being affected by crowd noise. That’s not him. Always calm, cool and collected, Mays said he’s never been shaken by an away crowd. Some have.
“Not me personally,” Mays said. “Everybody sits here and argues with me. Even in the line, (offensive lineman) Jerome (Carvin) will argue with me all the time about talking about how the crowd affects him and stuff and I was like ‘I don’t think I’ve ever thought a crowd was really that loud.’
Mays, who handles many of the offensive line calls for Tennessee, said he gets “tunnel vision” during games.
“I don’t really hear the crowd,” he said. “I would say it probably affects communication as a whole…It doesn’t affect me as a player like it affects, like the whole (team). The quarterback yelling plays, that that could be one thing, but I don’t really hear the crowd as much.”
Tiger Stadium will put that “tunnel vision” to the test on Saturday.