Brown breaks out for UT

Today's mind-boggling stat: A Tennessee tight end has caught 14 passes for 120 yards in the Vols' last two games.

Chris Brown closed the 2006 season by catching seven passes for 66 yards in the Outback Bowl game vs. Penn State. He then matched his career high with seven receptions for 54 yards in the 2007 opener against California. Two of last Saturday's grabs went for touchdowns, making him the first Vol tight end since Austin Denney in 1966 to catch multiple TD passes in a game.

"It meant a lot to me," Brown said of his Game 1 performance. "I was preaching all off-season how I wanted to be That Guy, to be a leader and to make plays. I think I had a fairly decent game. There were a couple of blocking assignments that I missed but I thought I caught the ball fairly well and did some good things with it."

Offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe thought so, too. He was particularly impressed with a 27-yard catch over the middle Brown made on Tennessee's first touchdown drive of 2007.

"Chris Brown made an absolutely great catch on the vertical going down the field," Cutcliffe said. "He played hard, played physical, played 66 snaps. I was real pleased with what we got out of Chris in that game."

Naturally, the coordinator was thrilled with the two scoring receptions.

"I don't know when was the last time a tight end had two touchdown catches here," Cutcliffe noted. "But it's good to have confidence to throw to a guy like that in the end zone."

Phillip Fulmer was pleased with Brown, as well

"Chris had a nice game," the head man said. "The catches and plays are obvious; that kind of shows up. Just as importantly to us, he blocked very well. He adjusted really well to some things they did with no missed steps."

Tight ends coach Matt Luke conceded that a two-TD effort "is always good but if you don't get the win it's never like you want it to be. There are a lot of things we can do better, as a tight end group and as an offense."

Brown, a 6-3, 245-pound senior from Destrehan, La., is one of the most versatile Vols on the roster. Although listed as a tight end, he basically plays an H-back role. He lines up at tight end. He lines up at fullback. He lines up as a wide receiver. He is a good route-runner, a good blocker and a good pass receiver.

"The thing is, he's accepted whatever challenge we've put in front of him," Luke said. "If there's one word to describe Chris Brown it's competitor. He's versatile and he's a competitor. When you put those two things together, it's pretty special."

Although he felt he and the other tight ends played well in Game 1, Brown says there's plenty of room for improvement in Game 2 Saturday night against Southern Miss.

"I think the tight ends did well," he said, "but I had a couple of busts, Jeff (Cottam) had a couple of busts and Luke (Stocker) had a couple of busts. Overall, I think we played hard. We had no effort busts at all. It was just a couple of mental things."

Tennessee rang up four touchdowns in the opener but still came out on the short end of a 45-31 score. Many Vol fans are down but Brown says the players are not. He thinks Tennessee will show its resiliency vs. Southern Miss.

"I think we'll bounce back accordingly," he said. "We did a lot of good things in the Cal game. That's what a lot of people didn't realize. The defense didn't tackle well but they were there to make the plays. And the offense scored a lot of points and did a lot of good things.

"It was the small things that killed us – overpursuing on defense and a couple of blown protections on offense."


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