UT Coordinators to Stay on Sidelines

Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders and defensive coordinator John Chavis will be stationed on the sidelines -- not in the press box -- when Tennessee plays its football opener Sunday night.

Since Sanders is breaking in two freshman quarterbacks, direct communication between coordinator and QB should help avert misunderstandings.

''I think this year, with the freshmen, it's more advantageous for me to stay on the sideline,'' he said. ''It's more about 'feel.' It's not going to all be scripted out, what you're going to do.''

Sanders said former Alabama offensive coordinator Homer Smith was known to sit in the press box floor, receive down-and-distance information from an aide, then call the next play without ever seeing any of the on-field action.

''He didn't want to watch it, but I can't imagine doing that,'' Sanders said. ''I'm the direct antithesis of that. I'd much rather be involved in the game, to kind of get a feel for what to do.''

Another reason for Sanders to stay on the sidelines is to provide immediate support and advice to his rookie QBs when things aren't going well on the field.

''I think there's a certain comfort level -- with me on the sidelines and me being the one communicating directly to them -- as opposed to doing it through someone or by telephone,'' he said. ''I think there's a certain comfort level for me and a certain comfort level for them, too.''

Although he is amazed by the poise both rookies have shown, Sanders knows they will be somewhat awed when they run through the 'T' Sunday night with 107,000 fans screaming at the top of their lungs.

''The first time I did that, I was numb for an hour afterwards,'' he said. ''They don't have that luxury. They've got to run through there and get ready to play ball. You can simulate game situations and crowd noise but till you get out there in front of that crowd it's not the same. Their maturity is going to have to kick in and they're going to have to handle that.''

Still, Sanders' greatest fear is not that the young QBs will be intimidated by the big crowd. Instead, he's afraid they may be overstimulated by it.

''Probably my biggest concern is them trying to do too much ... trying to live up to the hype ... trying to justify the decision to play them ... trying to compete with each other,'' he said. ''They have to understand that there are times when they're going to have to make plays, but their biggest role is to run the team, get the ball distributed and let the other guys make plays.

''Don't feel like you have to do something that's going to put the team at risk.''


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