Ainge loves no-huddle attack

Rising senior quarterback Erik Ainge got just one look at Tennessee's new no-huddle attack before a relatively minor knee surgery forced him to the sidelines for the remainder of spring practice.

That one look – an early March scrimmage played in 45 mile-per-hour winds – was all it took, however, to make a believer of Erik Ainge. He's convinced that offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe's newest brainchild will be a huge plus when the 2007 season arrives.

After starting six games as a true freshman in 2004, five as a sophomore in 2005 and 12 as a junior last fall, Ainge has sufficient familiarity with the offensive scheme to flourish in a no-huddle system. The system requires a quarterback to read and process a lot of information before taking a snap but Ainge felt he made great progress in this regard before the knee problem sidelined him.

"I think it plays to my strengths because this is essentially my fourth year in this offense," the strong-armed 6-6, 220-pounder said recently. "I'm picking it up and I'm calling a lot of plays in my head before Coach Cutcliffe is calling 'em ... or as he's calling 'em."

After three years analyzing and attacking opposing defenses, Ainge believes he'll be given a lot more freedom as a senior this fall. Obviously, the no-huddle system will give him more opportunities to check from Play A to Play B at the line of scrimmage. He believes he will get a chance to call a few plays on his own, as well.

"There will be a point where I'll be able to call my own plays," he said. "You can see a lot from upstairs (where Cutcliffe is stationed during games) but you can also FEEL a lot from down on the field.

"If I feel something is going to happen, I can change the play, and he would have confidence in me that I would know what I was doing. I think he and I will work hand in hand in that."

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