UT wideouts bounce back

After performing poorly in last Saturday's scrimmage, Tennessee's young receivers have taken some positive steps this week.

"I see our receivers are taking the challenge and have improved greatly," offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe says. "We had a lot of missed assignments (Saturday), more than I can remember to be honest. But I think they've tried to take that challenge."

The coordinator says Tuesday's evening workout was "much better" than its predecessors, adding: "That was probably the most encouraging thing I saw at practice."

Although he played quarterback in high school, Gerald Jones was the most impressive of the rookie wideouts in Saturday's scrimmage. His three receptions for 45 yards included a spectacular leaping catch. Fellow freshmen Brent Vinson, Ahmad Paige, Todd Campbell and Denarius Moore did not catch a pass. Quintin Hancock had a couple of grabs for 33 and fellow sophomore Austin Rogers had one for 21. Junior college transfer Kenny O'Neal had two grabs for 64 yards, including a 60-yard TD catch, but also dropped a potential TD pass.

"We've got a lot of freshmen, redshirt freshmen and a couple of sophomores that still have got to grow up rapidly for us to be as good as we can be," Cutcliffe notes. "They're coming around, and I thought some of them had some of their better days (Monday and Tuesday)."

The coordinator qualifies his praise, however, by noting that the improvement was "coming off Saturday, which, in my mind, was pretty much poor because of so many missed assignments and missed opportunities."

Still, Cutcliffe is encouraged by the improvement he sees. And, with continued progress, he hopes the Vols can get some help from several of their young wideouts this fall.

"They're understanding more of our routes, more of what we expect, more of the tempo," he says. "The biggest issue is being able to adjust routes, and they're getting better at that."

Complicating matters for the young receivers is the fact Tennessee's defense features considerable variety and considerable speed.

"We see a lot of coverages from our defense," Cutcliffe notes, "and we're seeing a lot of speed in our secondary, which has been good for us because speed harasses you. That's been a pretty good challenge all through practice."

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