Munoz: O-line will be better

Tennessee's blocking front took a lot of heat for last season's offensive problems. But junior tackle Michael Munoz says things will be different in 2003.

''Everyone knows what they're doing this year,'' he said. ''There's a lot of unity on the line, and we're coming in with a focus on the little things. We're really hoping we can minimize mistakes, missed assignments and things like that, so that we can get the offense going and smooth.''

Last year's O-line was hampered by a rash of injuries. Guards Jason Respert and Chavis Smith were hardest hit but Munoz had his share of dings, too, playing through wrist and shoulder injuries.

''I went out every game and gave it my best shot,'' he said. ''Injuries are part of the game. It's a physical sport.''

The injuries across Tennessee's blocking front no doubt contributed to the offensive woes that beset the 2002 Vols.

''It's tough to get the continuity going (when people are injured) but it's something you need to work through,'' Munoz said. ''It provided a foundation for this offseason to get better as a group.''

After hearing a lot of criticism last fall, Tennessee's offensive linemen are determined to redeem themselves this fall. Munoz says he and his mates are more focused.

''As an offensive line, we've listened to everybody's doubts and stuff like that,'' he said. ''Now we've pulled together and we're just looking to go out and play. We're done with all the talking, and we're ready to go out and see what we can do.''

With a four-year starter (Casey Clausen) at quarterback, a potential 1,000-yard rusher (Cedric Houston) at tailback, more playmakers at receiver and a healthy offensive line, Tennessee could be a much more productive offense than it was a year ago.

''I think it can,'' Munoz said. ''There's a lot of guys at specialty positions that are capable of making plays. As offensive linemen, we're ready to give them that opportunity.''


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