Pound the rock or spread the field?

Based on last year's game with Arkansas, Tennessee will look to run the ball Saturday night against the Razorbacks. But, based on last week's game with Rutgers, Tennessee will look to throw the ball.

So, which offensive approach will the Vols utilize Saturday night?

Last year the Vols ran the ball 55 times and threw it just 17 times against Arkansas. Of course, last year Travis Stephens was playing tailback for UT and the two teams were playing in a tropical monsoon. In addition, Tennessee's receiving corps was virtually depleted that evening.

''Donte' (Stallworth) was hurt, Eric Parker got hurt pretty early, Bobby Graham wasn't full-speed and Kelley (Washington) was coming off a hamstring injury and hadn't played much receiver at that point,'' Vol offensive coordinator Randy Sanders recalled. ''I think we ran it 55 times for around 200 yards, which is still not a great average per carry. We were pretty hardheaded with it (rushing game) but our defense played great and allowed us to do that.''

The Vols were just as hardheaded last weekend ... for a half. They threw but five passes in the first two quarters, going to the break with a mere 63 yards of total offense and a 14-7 deficit against 41-point underdog Rutgers. Since Tennessee spread the field and threw the ball with great success in the second half, fans are wondering why the Vols didn't go to the spread offense earlier.

''It was something I wanted to get to much earlier,'' Sanders conceded. ''But, only getting 17 plays the first half, we really didn't have the opportunity to get to it.''

Oddly enough, the one time Tennessee used the spread offense in the first half, it produced a 14-yard touchdown pass from Casey Clausen to Derrick Tinsley.

''We got to it (spread) on the touchdown Derrick caught,'' Sanders said. ''We planned on getting back to it if we ever could've made that next first down on the third or fourth possession. That's not a new formation. It's something we've been doing forever. Once we came out (in the second half) and got into it, obviously, it worked pretty good, so we stayed with it.''

Asked if he'll go to the spread quicker this week, Sanders shrugged.

''We want to do whatever we have to do to move the ball,'' he said. ''A lot is affected by the game situation and how the defense is playing.''

Translation: Probably not.


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