Off-season is huge for Vols

The greatest misnomer in college football is the term "off-season." How much the Tennessee Vols can accomplish – individually and collectively – between now and the start of preseason drills in August will go a long way toward determining what kind of season they'll have in 2006.

Bob Davis, who played center for Tennessee's 1951 national championship team and later served on the Vol coaching staff, liked to put it this way: "Nobody stays the same. Every day you're either getting better or worse."

There's an awful lot of truth in that. So, the question is this: Will Tennessee's football players spend the days between the end of spring drills and the start of preseason drills – the so-called "off-season" – getting better or getting worse?

Based on the work ethic they exhibited in spring practice, one Vol is convinced the players will spend the next few months getting better. He credits this newfound work ethic to the return of offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe.

"The biggest thing for us this spring was learning how to work," quarterback Erik Ainge said recently. "That's the No. 1 thing Coach Cutcliffe brings to this offense – tempo, a sense of urgency, knowing how to practice, knowing what it means to sweat, knowing what it means to really work hard.

"Taking that into the off-season and summer workouts – when he can't be on the field with us – is going to be the most important thing for us."


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