Mates helping Vol QBs

There is no doubt that Tennessee teammates have rallied around freshman quarterbacks Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge. The line is blocking well. The backs are running hard and picking up the blitz. The receivers are running the right routes and catching everything within reach. Moreover, offensive penalties have been almost non-existent this fall.

It's as if the veterans are consciously shouldering a bigger share of the load in an effort to reduce the pressure on the rookie QBs.

''I think a little bit (of the success) this year can be attributed to concentration,'' offensive coordinator Randy Sanders says. ''Everybody's concentration has gone up. That's probably because they know they've got to do their part; they can't just turn it over to the quarterback.''

Perhaps the greatest benefit for the rookie QBs is a veteran receiver corps. After two years of struggles, Vol wideouts generally are showing up where they're supposed to be this fall.

''Our receivers having some experience and maturity makes it a whole easier for the quarterbacks to do right,'' Sanders said. ''The receivers are doing a good job of being on the same page (with the QBs).''

The coordinator has simplified UT's offense a bit to accommodate two freshman quarterbacks. The fact this simpler offense is clicking has led to speculation that perhaps the attack was too complicated in the past. Sanders says that isn't the case.

''We're a little bit simpler,'' he said, ''but it's not that much different for the receivers and the line.''

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