WRs must help new QBs

Tennessee's most experienced offensive position is wide receiver; its least experienced offensive position is quarterback. So, what can the wideouts do to help youthful QBs Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge in Sunday's opener vs. Nevada-Las Vegas?

''Just make plays,'' senior receiver Tony Brown said. ''And we need to be in the right place at the right time. We can't have busted assignments because that'll make their job a lot harder than it is already. Finally, when the ball is up in the air we've got to come down with it.''

Vol defensive coordinator John Chavis recently said the 2004 wideout corps is the most talented he's seen in all of his years at UT. Brown appreciates the compliment but isn't letting it go to his head.

''We've got the potential to be very good,'' he said. ''But nothing's written in stone. It's a great honor that Coach Chavis said that but we've still got football to play to prove it. These guys have to work their butts off to get to that point.''

The strengths of this receiver corps are depth and versatility. Brown is an excellent possession receiver who has superior hands. Robert Meachem, Chris Hannon and Bret Smith are deep threats with speed to burn. Jayson Swain is effective going over the middle, as is Bill Grimes. Derrick Tinsley and C.J. Fayton are good runners after the catch. There's no single guy opponents can key on because all of the wideouts are talented.

''The thing about this group is we've got so much depth,'' Brown said. ''If you're banged up, you don't have to go in there and hurt your body. You can sit out the game and let other guys come in and do the same job you could do. In the past, there were a lot of times when guys were banged up but had to stick it out because we didn't have depth in the receiver corps.

''I think these guys have a bright future.''

Vol backs and receivers made precious few big plays in 2002 and 2003, leaving the offense to try and grind out long scoring drives of 12 plays or more. Perhaps those days are over.

''I think we have a chance to be a very explosive offense,'' Brown said. ''If Schaeffer's at quarterback, you've got a guy who's probably going to average 50 to 60 yards per game rushing. We've got a stockpile of tailbacks, we've got a stockpile of receivers, and the offensive line is solid across the board.

''I think this offense is ready to bust out.''


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