Ainge stays busy

Whether you're trying to thread a sewing needle or trying to thread the needle on a crossing route, the more you do something the better you become at it.

That simple truth has Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge bubbling with optimism this spring. He's getting far more practice time with the first unit than he did in previous springs, and he's convinced he'll be significantly better in the fall because of it.

"I'm getting all the reps with the ones right now, so that's twice as many as last year and my freshman year," Ainge said following Tuesday's practice at Haslam Field. "It's the first time since I've been at this university that I got all the reps with the ones, so I think that helps a lot."

As a freshman Ainge split the practice reps with fellow rookie Brent Schaeffer. As a sophomore he split the practice reps with Rick Clausen. Now that Ainge is getting all of the first-team reps, he and the Vols' top receivers should develop a better sense of timing and anticipation with one another.

"It's just being comfortable and having them being comfortable with you," he said. "When you're taking all the snaps you can get on the same page. You know what they're going to do before they do it, and that makes the game so much easier."

In addition to the time he spends with UT's receivers on the practice field, Ainge will be spending extra time with them in the film room.

"We're going to watch film with the receivers on Sundays, so we can all get on the same page," he said. "It's all about reps."

Although the 2006 season opener is still five months away, Ainge believes immediately getting comfortable with his receivers and his new coordinator (David Cutcliffe) is vitally important.

"That's good because I'll get this whole spring under my belt under Coach Cutcliffe, then we'll take it into June and July," Ainge said. "Now that he's been teaching us for eight or nine practices, we'll know what tempo is now.

"For the first time I know what tempo really means, so we'll be able to crank it up this summer and into two-a-days."

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