It's Time to Change Receivers Coaches

Tim Irwin, a former Tennessee offensive lineman, has seen enough.

He's seen Tennessee's wide receivers drop passes, run poor routes, fail to block downfield and not get yardage after making a catch.

He's seen enough to say it's time for a coaching change.

``The receivers are poorly coached,'' Irwin said. ``They're not stepping up. They're not getting it done. They've got raw material that's not developed.''

No one would argue that the receivers have underachieved. It's been a concern over the years.

The main charges against receivers coach Pat Washington is that he's not demanding enough of his players and the receivers don't show improvement. The result is a lack of production.

Vols quarterback Rick Clausen said before this season that UT had the nation's best crop of receivers. He couldn't say that now - not with a straight face.

Chris Hannon has not improved. Washington said Hannon's main problem is running consistent routes.

Robert Meachem hasn't made strides. You could blame a nagging ankle injury this season.

Jayson Swain has is solid, but he's not become the receiver he was touted to be.

Bret Smith was a touchdown maker last year, but timid this season.

C.J. Fayton has developed as a receiver, but he's injured and didn't play against Alabama.

The Vols have played eight wide receivers this season.

David Cutcliffe, former Ole Miss coach and former UT offensive coordinator, said he prefers to have three or four main guys. He said playing more than that can hurt the chemistry between the receivers and the quarterback.

Washington said chemistry can be a concern when you play that many wideouts, but he said injuries and using three and four wideout sets have led to more receivers getting more snaps.

Against Alabama, Tennessee made a curious move with Erik Ainge, who hadn't played since the LSU game. Ainge was inserted on the third series. His receivers: Josh Briscoe, Lucas Taylor, Austin Rogers - each a true freshman.

That was unfair to Ainge.

Spurrier Returns Without Much Fanfare

For the first time since 2000, Steve Spurrier is coming back to Knoxville.

The Evil Genius will patrol the West sidelines as South Carolina's head ball coach, visor and all. But there's just not the same buzz as before.

From 1990-2000, it was a big deal when Spurrier brought his Florida Gators to Neyland Stadium. Now Spurrier's return ranks just ahead of a foot note.

Why? Check the records. When Spurrier was in Gainesville, the Florida-Tennessee matchup meant something. Nine times during a 12-year period, both teams were ranked in the top 10 when they squared off. The winner usually won the East Division and played for the SEC Championship.

How things have changed. Saturday night, Spurrier brings in a 4-3 South Carolina team that struggled to beat Vanderbilt, has a losing record in SEC play and lost its best player to an injury.

Tennessee is 3-3, has a losing record in SEC play and figures to be about as motivated as Don Knotts going to the dentist.

The Vols laid it on the line during a physical, emotional 6-3 loss to Alabama.

It won't be easy to get charged up to play the Gamecocks.

UT Offense Has Played Stout Defenses

Tennessee offense ranks in the 100s in several categories, including scoring offense and rushing offense.

It has underachieved in every area - receivers, running backs, offensive line and quarterback. In six games, it has just six touchdown drives of over 33 yards. Last season, with two true freshmen quarterbacks, the Vols had that many after two games.

Tennessee has failed to score in an the entire half of five games. It has failed to score in 12 quarters. It is averaging 100.5 rushing yards per game.

No doubt, the offense has been woeful. But Tennessee hasn't played Hawaii or Idaho or some of those weak defenses in the Pac-10 and Conference USA.

Through six games, the Vols might have played, collectively, the best defenses in the nation. Alabama, Florida, Georgia and LSU all rank among the top 15 entering last weekend's games. Ole Miss ranked 32 before holding Kentucky to 256 total yards.

When you compare the yards gained by Tennessee to the yards allowed by its SEC opponents, the Vols attack doesn't fare so badly. He's a closer look.

  • Alabama was allowing 255.8 yards. UT gained 253.
  • Georgia was allowing 286. UT got 358.
  • LSU was allowing 291. UT got 320.
  • Ole Miss was allowing 331. The Vols had 378.
  • The one exception is Florida. The Gators give up 272 yards. UT got 213.

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