Offense ahead of 2004

Tennessee's offense looked so bad in the first preseason scrimmage of 2004 that some observers wondered how many plays it would take to score if the defense left the field.

The first preseason scrimmage of 2005 was a different matter. This time the offense put up four touchdowns. Two came on quick strikes – a 65-yard pass from Rick Clausen to Brent Smith and a 69-yarder from Bo Hardegree to Lucas Taylor. Two more came on methodical drives. A seven-yard pass from Erik Ainge to Casey Woods capped a 12-play, 65-yard TD march and a six-yarder from Clausen to Smith capped a 10-play, 70-yard drive. The Vols also popped one big run, a 40-yarder by Arian Foster.

All in all, it was an impressive showing by an attack unit that appears to be miles ahead of this time last year.

"I think we're a little further ahead," Clausen said. "We have quite a bit more in the package. We have a lot more guys that know what they're supposed to do, and we're just trying to take it from there."

The Vols have more in the package this year because Clausen and Ainge now have a year's experience in the UT system. Obviously, the more responsibility the QBs show they can handle, the more responsibility they are given.

"We tend to do more now," Clausen said. "But, at the same time, we have to be wary of trying to do too much. Coach (Randy) Sanders is allowing us a little rope, but we can't hang ourselves with it."

One of the most encouraging aspects of Saturday's offensive performance was the play of several freshman – notably wideouts Taylor and Josh Briscoe, center Josh McNeil and tailback LaMarcus Coker.

"These guys are really doing a good job of picking up the system – from the linemen to the receivers to the running backs to the tight ends," Clausen said. "They're all starting to learn, which is good to see.

"It just goes to show that the guys want to learn. They have the drive to learn, and that's always good to find in those (new) guys."


Inside Tennessee Top Stories