Same old same old?

Phillip Fulmer learned the offense from Walt Harris in the 1980s. David Cutcliffe learned it from Fulmer in the early 1990s. Randy Sanders learned it from Cutcliffe in the mid ‘90s. Now Cutcliffe has inherited it from Sanders.

Naturally you wonder: Is Tennessee going to be playing the same offense in 2006 that Walt Harris was using two decades ago?

The answer, according to Cutcliffe, is no. Though modeled on the Walt Harris attack of the 1980s, the offense has changed since then.

"Quite a bit," Cutcliffe says. "The history of it goes back to '82 or so but it's always evolving and changing."

Fulmer made some changes after succeeding Harris as offensive coordinator. Cutcliffe made some more modifications during his stint as offensive coordinator. When Cutcliffe left to become head man at Ole Miss in 1999, he did some more tweaking in Oxford. Meanwhile, back in Knoxville, Sanders was adding some new touches of his own.

Cutcliffe says the offense Tennessee ran in 2005 was significantly different than the one he utilized in 1998. He likes some of Sanders' modifications so much that he's keeping them in the "package" for 2006.

"They did some real nice things here (after he left), as far as evolving with the offensive package, and we'll include some of those things they were doing," Cutcliffe says. "Then there's the things we evolved and changed at Ole Miss."

Although Tennessee's offense is still based on the Walt Harris attack, each succeeding coordinator has put his stamp on it. Thus, the offense should be more multiple and flexible than it was when Harris was calling the shots. That's why Cutcliffe thinks those who expect the 2006 attack to be more of the "same old same old" are in for a surprise.

"It's dangerous," he says with a laugh.

Because the 2006 attack will be based on some of what Fulmer did, some of what Cutcliffe did, some of what Sanders did and some new stuff Cutcliffe brought with him from Ole Miss, opponents could have trouble figuring it out. Heck, even the Vols may have trouble figuring it out.

"We're putting together a pretty unique system – one that's going to be really versatile," Cutcliffe says. "How functional we're going to be … I don't know yet."

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