'Little things' hurting UT?

There were some big things wrong with Tennessee's offense last weekend vs. Alabama. The banged-up line didn't block as well as it had earlier. The backs didn't run as productively as they had earlier. The wideouts weren't used as effectively as they were earlier. Quarterback Erik Ainge didn't pass as accurately as he had earlier.

Still, offensive coordinator Randy Sanders says it was ''little things'' that caused the Big Orange to finish the Bama game with just 195 yards of total offense.

''The last couple of weeks it's just been a little thing here and a little thing there,'' he said. ''It's been a guy not finishing a block on this play, the back missing a cut on the next one, a player busting an assignment on the third one. It's been a lot of little things. Things we were not doing earlier in the year showed up last week.''

Citing ''a plethora of mistakes,'' Sanders hinted that the absence of starting guard Cody Douglas has been bigger than fans may realize.

''Arron Sears has done a nice job at guard but Arron's a better tackle than he is a guard,'' the coordinator said. ''When he knows exactly what to do, he's really good at guard, but he's had limited practice there. Those things have hurt us. Albert (Toeaina) has done a nice job at tackle but he missed a lot of practice time at tackle, and there's been some things he's done that have hurt us.''

In short, Douglas' absence has weakened the Vols at two positions.

''It's not that Cody is physically better than those two,'' Sanders said, ''but Cody knew exactly what he was doing at guard and Arron knew exactly what he was doing at tackle. A few little things have added up.''

Douglas has seen some practice time this week and may play Saturday against South Carolina. Whether that will be enough to snap the Vols out of their recent doldrums remains to be seen.

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