Being a hard-nosed kind of guy, the 6-4, 280-pounder from Collins, Miss., enjoys delivering the blow as a run blocker rather than absorbing one as a pass protector. Still, he understands why the Vols threw the ball so much in 2006.
"I think our passing game was outstanding, the best it's been here in awhile," he said. "But we've got to be a lot more balanced. The run game is something we've got to improve this year."
Asked if he expects the coaches to follow through on their promise to call more running plays in 2007, McNeil nodded.
"I think so," he said. "We had a really good passing offense last year. In some games we really didn't press the run that much. I'm all about putting points on the board – which we did most of the time – but we really didn't press the run that much."
Because the Vols didn't press the run in 2006, opposing defenses knew Tennessee was going to throw the majority of the time. This made McNeil's job more difficult.
"When they know you're not going to run it's a lot harder," he said. "The defensive linemen are going pin their ears back and give you their best pass-rush moves. It makes it a lot harder because the defensive line is just trying to get by you, instead of slowing down and trying to stop the run."
SCRIMMAGE SET: Tennessee holds its first full-scale scrimmage of the spring Saturday afternoon. We'll have a complete report posted shortly after the workout concludes.