Taylor-made opportunity

Tennessee's basic offensive approach has produced a meager 27 points in the last two meetings with Florida – 7 in 2005 and 20 in 2006. Not surprisingly, the Vols lost both times.

Perhaps it's time to try a different approach in today's showdown at Gainesville. Perhaps it's time to try something daring. Perhaps it's time to try the Lucas Taylor package. That's the Vols' version of the "wildcat package" used by the Arkansas Razorbacks. It features Lucas Taylor as a shotgun quarterback running an option offense. His options are to (1) keep the ball, (2) pitch the ball or (3) throw the ball.

Many Tennessee fans despise this package because it has failed miserably in the past. Their frustration is not surprising. Nor is the fact the package failed previously. The Vols put in a similar package for Eric Locke in 2000. He froze up, however, and merely slammed into the line three times, bringing boos from the stands and bringing an end to the experiment.

Tennessee resurrected the package this year, however, and Taylor appears much more adept at running it than Locke. That's understandable. He says it's "exactly the same" as the option attack he ran as a high school quarterback – an attack that enabled him to rush for a mind-boggling 539 yards in a 2004 game.

Taylor's skill running the option was evident in Tennessee's second preseason scrimmage. On his first play behind center he rolled right, then pitched to Montario Hardesty for an 18-yard gain. On the next play he kept for a four-yard gain. Two plays, 22 yards. Not too shabby.

For whatever reason, the Vols have put Taylor behind center just once since then. Inexplicably, they did so near the California goal line in Game 1. Operating in such cramped quarters, Taylor was dropped for no gain.

"It's the Eric Locke thing all over again," fans grumbled.

Not really. Taylor is much more explosive, ranking second among Tennessee's players in receptions (11), while ranking first in receiving yards (221) and yards per catch (20.1). He also is a much better passer than Locke, based on his high school days.

"My senior year we threw maybe six or seven passes per game," Taylor said earlier this week, "but my junior year I passed for 1500 yards."

Taylor has thrown just one pass in college – that coming off an end-around hand-off. Notably, he completed it for a 48-yard touchdown. Even more notably, it occurred in last year's game against Florida.

Acknowledging that as the biggest play of his career to date, he added: "So far that's the only touchdown I have. You just have to be patient and good things will happen."

Maybe his patience will be rewarded today in The Swamp. Maybe he'll get a chance to run the Lucas Taylor package more than once ... and away from the goal line.

Given Tennessee's recent offensive futility against Florida, it's probably worth a shot.

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