Arian's ready to go

New Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe is known for molding quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning into No. 1 NFL Draft picks. So what does that mean to redshirt freshman tailback Arian Foster?

Plenty.

"I'm excited, ready to get to work," said Foster, who ran for 879 yards in 2005 despite starting just five games. "He's a prestigious coach, so I'm pretty excited. He likes to put points on the board. That's something I like to do, too, so I guess we're one and the same."

Although Cutcliffe is revered for his work with quarterbacks, Foster figures Vol tailbacks will benefit from the new coordinator's insights into offensive football, as well.

"He's very knowledgeable of the game," Foster said. "He's been around it his whole life, so I'm pretty sure he knows a lot about the running back position. And opening up the passing game opens up the running game. It's kind of a tug-and-pull thing. We work together."

Foster had one brief meeting with Cutcliffe hours before the new coordinator was formally introduced to the media on Monday evening. The message was simple.

"He stressed that he's going to instill more discipline in us," Foster recalled. "Basically, he said that we're going to go out and work hard."

Clearly, discipline was lacking in 2005. Linemen committed too many false-start penalties, backs lost too many fumbles near the end zone and receivers dropped way too many passes. Foster thinks Cutcliffe can fix these flaws by improving UT's practice habits.

"You always look for improvement in practice, so we need to go out and work hard every day," he said. "I think it's going to be a step in a positive direction."

Tennessee opened the 2005 season with a No. 3 national ranking but closed it with a 5-6 record. Asked how quickly the Vols can get back among the NCAA's elite, Foster chuckled.

"We were just a couple of plays away THIS year," he said. "That's what it came down to. A couple of plays here and a couple of plays there, and we're not standing here talking about a new offensive coordinator, you know?"


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