FSN profiles Cutcliffe

Tennessee filled seven minutes of a 30-minute Southeastern Conference football preview called "Around the South" that aired throughout the Southeast Tuesday night. Most of those seven minutes were devoted to new offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe.

Tennessee averaged a mere 18.6 points per game in 2005, its lowest mark since 1974. The Vols ranked 90th nationally among 119 Div. 1 teams in total offense. Those numbers must improve if the Big Orange is to be a winner in 2006.

But Tony Barnhart, college football analyst for The Atlanta Journal/Constitution and Fox Sports Network, suggested there's a lot more involved than the numbers.

"The big change at Tennessee really has nothing to do with numbers. It has to do with discipline," he said. "What you need to know about David Cutcliffe is he is a perfectionist, and he doesn't care if your name is Erik Ainge or Peyton Manning. He's going to demand that you do it a certain way – on the field and off the field. More than anything else, that's what the Tennessee offense needed."

Offensive tackle Arron Sears agreed. In an on-camera interview, he noted that Cutcliffe is "what this team needed, especially off last year with the discipline problems we had. He came in and stepped in and put his foot down, and a lot of the young players have responded to that."

Cutcliffe's emphasis on discipline and toughness was driven home repeatedly via film clips from practices that were closed to all media except Fox Sports Network. The Vol aide came across as a stickler for detail, and his comments suggest he wants Tennessee to be more of a smash-mouth attack in 2006.

Addressing the offense in one film clip, Cutcliffe said: "It's about statement offense … about making a statement. That's what you have to do. It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck to think about making a statement with ‘gap' – running right behind that man (nodding toward Sears) right there, and nobody in America can stop us."

Vol quarterback Erik Ainge gave an unqualified endorsement of Cutcliffe, noting: "There's no doubt in my mind that we'll be ready. I don't think Coach Cutcliffe would let us NOT be ready.

"He refuses to fail. He always says: I refuse to be average."

After finishing 90th nationally in 2005, even average would be a step up for Tennessee's offense in 2006.

"Around the South" is scheduled to air tonight at 11 on SportSouth and at 2 a.m. on Turner South. Whether it will be a rerun of the SEC football preview or a new program is not known at this time.

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