Fayton's through waitin'

C.J. Fayton has emerged as Tennessee's go-to receiver … at least when Rick Clausen is playing quarterback.

Consider:

Fayton caught five balls for 97 yards in Game 1 vs. Alabama-Birmingham, a game quarterbacked primarily by Clausen.

Fayton caught just one pass for three yards in Game 2 vs. Florida, a game quarterbacked primarily by Erik Ainge.

Fayton caught eight balls for 61 yards in Game 3 vs. LSU, a game quarterbacked primarily by Clausen.

What's more, this trend is no new development. After catching just 14 passes in Tennessee's first nine games of 2004, Fayton caught 10 in the four games Clausen started at season's end.

Fayton's career-high eight catches vs. LSU averaged a mere 7.6 yards per reception. That, he said, was because of the way the Tigers were playing defense.

"At times we had trouble running the ball, so we basically threw a lot of short passes," he said on Monday night's post-game radio show. "It (short pass) sort of acted like the run for us, spread out their defense and enabled us to get some plays downfield later in the game."

So, why were so many of those short passes going to Fayton against the Tigers?

"They played a lot of man coverage, so basically it was me against a nickel guy," he said. "Rick has great confidence in me, that I'm going to win every time. He went to me a lot and pretty much I won every time."

Tennessee scored zero first-half points with Ainge at quarterback but put up 30 second-half points with Clausen at the helm. The obvious question: Why is the attack more efficient with Clausen behind center?

"It just seems that when Rick's in the game the offense flows a little better for some reason," Fayton said. "He really took control of this game and led the team to victory."


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