Is Jones doing too much?

Tennessee receiver/defensive back Mark Jones dropped two catchable passes in last Saturday's game with Marshall, nearly equalling his total for all of last spring. This raises the question: Are UT coaches asking him to do too much?

Jones worked almost exclusively at wideout last spring, and quickly stamped himself as the Vols' most dangerous receiver. After starring in scrimmage after scrimmage, he capped his spring with a brilliant performance in the Orange & White Game (4 catches for 152 yards with TD plays covering 76 and 45 yards).

Through the first two games this fall, however, Jones has caught five balls for a mere 45 yards. Moreover, he failed to bring down a high (but catchable) third-down pass in the first quarter last weekend vs. Marshall, then dropped a perfectly thrown 44-yard touchdown bomb in the third quarter of the same game.

You have to wonder: Why is the guy who was so sure-handed last spring dropping balls this fall?

A possible explanation: Jones has seen considerable action at safety and on special teams this fall, so fatigue may be partly responsible for the uncharacteristic drops. Receiver coach Pat Washington isn't sure that's the proper explanation, however.

''I hope not because he catches the ball well,'' Washington said recently. ''For him to drop a ball, it had to be a concentration thing. He probably just lost focus for a split-second.''


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