Cutcliffe wants 30 points per game

Before he was hired as Tennessee's offensive coordinator, David Cutcliffe asked what UT's record was when the Vols score at least 30 points.

Thirty points. That's Cutcliffe's goal. That's what he told offensive players during his first meeting.

Thirty points sounds like a lofty goal for a team that didn't score 30 during the regular season last year, for a team that averaged about 15 offensive points per game, for a team ranked 101 in the nation in scoring.

Tennessee failed to score more than 30 points in a game for the first time since 1964.

In the SEC, if you average 30 points, you'll win at a championship level – if you have a decent defense. Tommy Tuberville hasn't lost a game when Auburn scores 30 points.

So what is UT's record when the Vols score 30 points under Phillip Fulmer? Try 81-3. Two of the losses were to Florida: in 1995 and 1993. The other loss was in overtime at LSU in 2000.

After some soul searching, Cutcliffe said he is ``excited and honored'' to be back on the Tennessee staff. He wasn't sure he wanted to be an assistant again, preferring to wear the head coaching hat he had for seven seasons at Ole Miss. He was courted heavily to be offensive coordinator at Arkansas. Middle Tennessee State called because of its head coaching vacancy.

Ultimately, Cutcliffe decided to come home. Cutcliffe said UT is the only place in which he'd be an assistant – even though he was briefly on the staff at Notre Dame as quarterbacks coach before triple-bypass heart surgery sidelined him.

Cutcliffe made it clear he will be demanding.

``I'm still hard headed,'' Cutcliffe said. ``They'll do it the way we want to do it – it's as simple as that.''

Cutcliffe said he learned as a head coach to be more team oriented. He said sometimes, as an offensive coordinator, ``you get consumed with the offense being so good. You learn (as a head coach) how to play to win the game, whether it means playing conservatively and relying on defense and the kicking game, or being in a five-wide set.''

Cutcliffe said he isn't sure about UT's talent level on offense.

``We'll find that out in the spring,'' he said. ``People aren't playing the way they need to to win the SEC. It's not just about ability. It's attitude, as well.

``Some guys need to prove things to me. We'll start from ground zero. I think they understand they all have to prove themselves.''

UT averaged only 7.2 yards per touchdown until two long scoring plays against Kentucky in the final game of the season.

``The first thing I saw was a lack of people making plays,'' Cutcliffe said. ``It was a lack of play-makers and a lack of discipline. We have some good-looking young athletes. But it didn't show on the field.''

Cutcliffe said he would not go the junior college route to find a quarterback. Two potential recruits are Isaiah Williams and Demetrius Jones. Williams is committed to Illinois and Jones is committed to Notre Dame. Cutcliffe helped recruit Jones to Notre Dame. Each is considering going elsewhere because their respective schools have commitments from other quarterbacks.


Many former Vols have suggested Tennessee's offensive linemen were too big.

The starters averaged 332, with Albert Toeaina coming it at about 360. Tim Irwin, Mike Stowell and Bubba Miller felt the linemen were too big to pull on sweeps and block in space.

``You don't have to be a giant to play on the offensive line,'' UT coach Phillip Fulmer said. ``We didn't necessarily plan to be giants. It just worked out that way.''

Fulmer said the left side of UT's offensive line was ``normal.'' He said the right said was ``too big to be as agile as we'd like.''


J.T. Mapu, a former UT starter at defensive tackle, is schedule to report to Knoxville in July with two years of eligibility remaining.

Mapu, who weighs about 300 pounds, has been on a two-year Mormon mission south of Houston.

Fulmer said Mapu wouldn't want to hear it, but he could play either side of the ball – meaning offensive line or defensive line.

``He has significant work to do conditioning wise,'' Fulmer said. ``He may need to sit a year to get back in shape.''


Fulmer said he thinks former offensive coordinator Randy Sanders still has a future as a coach.

``He's a very bright coach, an excellent football coach,'' Fulmer said. ``Randy will do well in whatever he chooses, whether he stays in football or takes a business opportunity.''

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