Miscommunication?

Several times in Saturday's 27-14 loss to Georgia Tennessee quarterback Rick Clausen threw passes to spots where there was no Vol wideout in that area. Heck, sometimes there was no Vol wideout in that area code.

This suggests Clausen and his receivers are not on the same page, that miscommunications are hindering UT's passing game. Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders says that is not the case, although he concedes there were times Saturday when the receiver went one way and Clausen's pass went another way.

"It happened a couple of times," Sanders said. "It happened on the next-to-last play there with Robert Meachem. Another time he (Clausen) threw the ball away. And I think another time we had a receiver bust a route.

"It's not necessarily a lack of communication or confusion."

It may be embarrassing when a pass falls to the turf 20 yards from the nearest Vol receiver but Sanders has a bigger concern these days – trying to get a struggling Vol attack to jell.

"I obviously expected us to be more productive than we have been," he said. "Why we haven't been more productive, I wish I had the answer. We look at what we do as far as calling plays, look at what we do as far as coaching ‘em Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We look at how well we're listening to players, how well they're buying into things."

On a positive note, Vol receivers finally made some big plays vs. Georgia, registering six catches that gained 20 yards or more. They failed to make several clutch catches, however.

A wide-open Bret Smith couldn't quite pull down a high throw in the end zone that would've tied the score 7-7 shortly before halftime. Smith and Robert Meachem dropped third-quarter passes in Georgia territory at a time when the Vols trailed 13-0 and desperately needed points. Meachem's drop cost Tennessee a first-and-10 inside the UGA 30-yard line.

"He's GOT to make that catch," Sanders said. "We've got to have that one."

Still, the offensive coordinator isn't blaming Tennessee's wideouts for UT's scoring woes. He says they've been playing through assorted bumps and bruises all year.

"Not trying to make excuses – because there really are no excuses – but we've been nicked up at receiver more than we have in the past," Sanders said. "Meachem's finally starting to get healthy, then we lose C.J. Fayton (who missed the Georgia game with a high-ankle sprain). And Jayson Swain missed almost three days of practice."

Even with Fayton out, Swain limited and quarterback Clausen battling shoulder and Achilles injuries, Tennessee's passing game accounted for more than 300 yards against Georgia. It just wasn't enough.

"We threw for 310 yards and had a chance to make a couple more plays," Sanders noted. "You don't make ‘em all. Rarely do you make ‘em all.

"But where we're at right now we have to strive to make ‘em all. We can't NOT catch a ball when we throw it good and we can't NOT throw it good when we've got somebody wide open."

In other words, Tennessee's attack has no margin for error.


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