Personnel decisions

It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that Tennessee's football team did a poor job of utilizing its offensive personnel last season. That's why the Vols averaged just 18.6 points per game en route to a 5-6 record.

Exit Randy Sanders. Enter David Cutcliffe.

The new offensive coordinator made a few changes in the spring and likely will make some more when preseason camp begins in August. He believes one of the keys for 2006 – or any other year, for that matter – is getting the right people in the right places, then getting them doing the things they do best.

That's why Chris Brown will play more as an H-back (so his route-running and receiving skills can be maximized) and less as a tight end (so his blocking limitations can be minimized).

That's why Cutcliffe spent the spring trying his offensive linemen at different positions and in different personnel groupings. He must know what to expect from each player and which guys work best in unison.

That's why several Vols may become specialists – playing primarily in situations that will allow them to exploit their strengths without exposing their weaknesses.

That's why some unheralded players may become key factors in 2006 and why some of 2005's major contributors may be relegated to smaller roles this fall.

That's why a preseason key will be finding ways to get the ball in the hands of Lucas Taylor, one of the Vols' premier weapons.

UT got very little production from its offensive personnel in 2005, which is why three of last fall's aides are no longer on the staff. Cutcliffe's job is to make sure the production improves significantly in 2006. He's confident that will happen.

"One of the great things about this offense is it's always allowed us to use the personnel to our advantage," he said. "I think that's a big part of being successful.

"That's something I think we've always done well. I think it's real important that you get players doing what they can do best."


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