Vols try no-huddle attack

Clearly, David Cutcliffe is a man in a hurry. Last year Tennessee's offensive coordinator insisted that the Vols get in and out of the huddle quicker. This year he's mulling the possibility of eliminating the huddle altogether.

Is a no-huddle attack on the horizon for the Vols? Perhaps … at least on a part-time basis. Head coach Phillip Fulmer touched on the subject briefly during today's pre-spring practice news conference, then Cutcliffe discussed it in more detail.

In his earlier stint as UT's coordinator, Cutcliffe routinely allowed quarterback Peyton Manning to call plays at the line of scrimmage as a senior in 1997.

"I just basically let him have it, within the realm of what the formation was," Cutcliffe said of the play-calling duties. "He always liked it and responded to it."

Now that Erik Ainge is heading into his senior year, the no-huddle attack may return.

"We've fiddled with it in the past a little," Cutcliffe said. "It's something I think we can gain some advantage from, hopefully. We'll see how it works itself out."

Manning, who recently led the Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl title, runs a no-huddle offense and calls his plays at the line of scrimmage. Cutcliffe said Tennessee's no-huddle attack will be "a little different than the rout the Colts would take" but did not elaborate.

With 23 career starts to his credit, Ainge should have the experience and knowledge needed to manage a no-huddle offense.

"It certainly helps," Cutcliffe conceded, subsequently adding: "You've got to pick what you think is the right time to take that step, and I think this is the right time."

Jonathan Crompton, who started one game at quarterback as a redshirt freshman last fall, is a quick study who should be able to manage the no-huddle system, as well.

"I've been really impressed with Jonathan," Cutcliffe said. "That was another thing (in the decision to try the no-huddle attack)."

Nick Stephens, who redshirted as a freshman last fall, is the only Vol quarterback who appears ill-equipped to handle the demands of the no-huddle attack.

"I told Nick Stephens this is a little unfair to him … his first spring," Cutcliffe said. "He'll get over it and he'll get through it, but it'll be a little tough for him."

The coordinator toyed with the idea of installing a hurry-up type of offense last spring but decided against it. He figured the Vols already had enough to learn without the added complication of a huddle-free attack.

"I fiddled with it a little bit last spring," he said, "but I knew we had too many challenges from a system standpoint – learning – and there was no way we could have taken that challenge on, too. We were just trying to learn motions, formations, how to run routes and all of those things."

Now that Tennessee's offensive players have had a full year to soak up Cutcliffe's teachings, the coordinator believes it's time to expand the repertoire a bit.

"This," he said, "is something that has kind of been in the back of my mind that I think is the next step for us offensively."

The "next step" may not be a permanent step, however. The no-huddle offense could be scrapped as early as Saturday, Tennessee's first day in full pads.

"Saturday, I might say to hell with it," Cutcliffe quipped. "Huddle! Huddle! Huddle!"


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