Posted: 1:33 pm Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Tennessee players bracing for a ‘brutal’ atmosphere at The Swamp 

By Post Staff

AP

AP

KNOXVILLE – The Swamp is never a fun place for a visiting team to play, especially a rival like Tennessee.

“Their fans are just really, I guess you could say really brutal, when it comes down to it,” said junior safety Eric Berry, who as a freshman in 2007 intercepted Tim Tebow and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown at The Swamp. “They always put us right by the student section or something like that. They just really get rowdy and say a lot of crazy things. Just got to know how to have tough skin and let it roll off of you.”

But the Volunteer players are bracing for an even rougher environment this Saturday. They know what Lane Kiffin has said this offseason about “singing Rocky Top all night long” after beating Florida and accusing Urban Meyer of cheating.

“It’s going to be worse than it’s ever been down there, just because they know of all the things that have been said,” junior defensive end Chris Walker said. “It’s going to be really hostile like always, and we’ll have to be on our ‘A’ game.”

Tuesday morning on Knoxville’s 99.3 The Animal, a caller implored fans not to bring their children down to Florida for Saturday’s game, “because they beat up children.” Berry called The Swamp the most hostile place to play in the SEC, just ahead of Alabama.

The last time the Vols came to Gainesville, the Gators wiped the floor in a 59-20 victory. Berry saw first hand how the Florida crowd can take an opposing team out of the game.

“Once you mess up on a play, you got to learn how to keep moving, because the fans are going to keep messing with you about it, keep talking trash, because that’s just how they are down there,” Berry said. “The fans get into it, you start thinking about different things, the Gator chomp comes into effect. You just have to make sure you keep the crowd out of it.”