After all, he showed significant improvement as a junior, he's had a full season to work with offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, and he's an experienced starter entering his senior season. It's not like he was fighting for his job.
Upon closer inspection, this could
be a bigger problem than it might appear on the surface, in light of some of the
The Vols bounced back from a 5-6
season in 2005 to finish 9-4 in 2006, but they still lost to
"He threw 67 percent completions
during the course of the year, and we're going to try to use his talents any way
The no-huddle approach experienced some ups and downs in the first two weeks of spring practice, which is understandable, but it took a definite turn in the wrong direction when Ainge suffered partially torn cartilage in his right knee.
While repairing torn cartilage is a relatively simple process and barely compares to the impact and rehab time associated with torn ligaments, it still removes Ainge from the spring equation.
"I think everything happens for a reason," Ainge said. "I've just got to make the best of it."
With Ainge out, the Vols are working with two remaining scholarship quarterbacks — sophomore Jonathan Crompton and redshirt freshman Nick Stephens — and waiting on the arrival of signee B.J. Coleman in the fall.
Losing Ainge becomes a problem because the Vols face a multitude of challenges to fill holes and answer questions on an offense that must replace two offensive line starters, three leading receivers and a starting fullback.
The offensive line must replace its anchor, All-SEC left tackle Arron Sears, as well as a solid starter, guard David Ligon. In addition, talented sophomore center Josh McNeil is questionable for the rest of the spring following a citation by police for underage consumption and public intoxication. And two probable starters, Eric Young and Anthony Parker, will sit out the spring because of injury.
"We're quite a ways away from anything close to what we were," Fulmer said.
Tennessee returns just four receivers – Austin Rogers, Lucas Taylor, Josh Briscoe and Quintin Hancock, who caught a pass last season – and those four combined for only 26 receptions, 252 yards and no touchdowns. Junior Lucas Taylor is the Vols' leading returning receiver with 14 receptions for 101 yards.
"I told those receivers, ‘There's
not going to be one thing written about how good you guys are. There's not going
to be one of you put up for all-conference. Your job is to go out there and put
yourself on the map',"
Those four better make the most of their time in the spring because junior college signee Kenny O'Neal and prep school signee Brent Vinson will arrive this summer ready to compete for playing time.
"We're going to have to make do with what we have and what we're bringing in," Ainge said. "But I think we will be better in the passing game this year than we were last."
The problem is that Ainge won't be around to work with them for the rest of the spring or in informal workouts for another two to three months. That makes the running game even more important, especially after the Vols finished 10th in the SEC with 108 rushing yards per game last season.
"We weren't a bad running team," Cutcliffe said. "We chose to throw the football. But as I look at this team, I don't think there's any question that we have to be a better running team to present the kind of offense we've got to have to do what we all ultimately talk about, and that's score enough points to win."
Even if that means operating a no-huddle offense?
"When we're in no-huddle, everybody
tends to think that the offense isn't going to come and hit them in the mouth,"
junior tailback Arian Foster said. "What we want to emphasize is that we're
going to have a no-huddle offense, but we've still got
Garcia enrolled at
Garcia, 19, was first jailed on
Feb. 17 on charges of drunkenness and failure to stop on police command after
officers responded to a report of an altercation behind a
Then on March 1, a visiting
Garcia has since been suspended from joining the football team in spring practice or any football-related activities.
"Stephen Garcia will be suspended from all football team activities through the end of this semester," Spurrier said. "He will be expected to go to class and study hall but will not participate in any spring practices or team football meetings."
Spurrier added that he hoped Garcia
would make "an all-out effort to get his personal life in line with our other
Garcia issued a public apology to the professor, Spurrier, his teammates and fans. Then, when it came time for him to appear in court, he cut off the hair he had been growing for two years, shaved his beard and wore a dark coat and tie. When he returns to court this week, Garcia is expected to apply for pre-trial intervention (PTI) so all of the charges will be erased from his record. PTI is a diversion program for first-time offenders charged with nonviolent crimes.
Even if Garcia receives PTI status, he's still got a lot of work to do to earn the respect and acceptance of his coaches and teammates.
"Time will tell. He's got a lot of time to try to earn his way back," Spurrier said. "I hope he's learned his lesson and can stay straight from now on."
About 12 hours after catching a
touchdown pass in an Auburn spring scrimmage,
"I remember pretty much the whole
thing, as far as when the car got out of control,"
"I'm very blessed to even be alive. I wasn't supposed to be here today. My life was spared."
With the loss of leading receiver
"It will be a while before he does
Swimming usually doesn't make this
page, but it's hard to ignore the dynasty that is
Like LSU baseball (before the Smoke
The Auburn women gave Marsh his
11th national championship last weekend, and the men are expected to make it 12
this weekend in
Quick, a young, energetic 64, is a
Quick thought he was done until
"When I had thought about leaving last summer and announced it in the early fall, my hope from the very beginning was that Richard would consider coming out of retirement for the Auburn job," Marsh said. "I knew he loved his experience when he was at Auburn, I knew he would cherish the opportunity to coach men and women, and I knew, if he would accept it, he'd be the best guy in the world that we could get."
Richard Scott is a Birmingham-based sports writer, author and featured columnist in Tiger Rag. Reach him at email@example.com.