Ainge hands off right-handed

A botched handoff killed Tennessee's hopes of beating No. 4 Florida last weekend, and quarterback Erik Ainge is determined that won't happen again.

In spite of a broken pinky, Erik Ainge said Tuesday that he will be making all future handoffs with his right hand. He tested his injured finger on handoffs during Monday's practice and found the results encouraging.

"I'm handing the ball off with my right hand this week," he said. "We're going to get that done in practice…. I did it great yesterday and didn't have any problems. I'm getting back in the swing of things, getting all those handoffs right.

"If it's done correctly and it's emphasized by the running backs and myself to make sure we're ‘big pocket' and make sure my hand's in there and then getting out, then we shouldn't have any problems."

A 96-yard interception return by Eric Berry had pulled Tennessee within 28-20 in the third quarter of last weekend's game at Gainesville. On the Vols' next possession, Ainge – attempting to hand off with his left hand – was unable to deliver the ball securely into tailback Arian Foster's arms. The loose ball was scooped up by a Gator linebacker and returned 18 yards for a touchdown that widened the gap to 35-20 and broke Tennessee's spirit.

"I refuse to let something like that happen again just because I can't hand the ball off with my right hand," Ainge said. "That's why that happened: I had to use my left hand to hand it off. That's unacceptable, so we'll find out a way to do that."

Just prior to the botched handoff, offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe was convinced the Vols were going to come back and tie the score.

"When we got it to 28-20 with the ball, I had no doubt in my mind at that point in time that we were going to take the ball down and score," the Vol aide said. "Then I knew what we were going to run on the two-point (conversion) play, and we were going to make the two points.

"I had no doubt in my mind. I STILL don't have any doubt in my mind that we would've made the two-point play, and it would've been a 28-28 game.

"Then everything's a lot different."


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