UT offense too 'giving'

John Chavis' Tennessee defense is giving up a lot of points these days. David Cutcliffe can relate; his Vol offense is giving up a lot of points, too.

Incredibly, Tennessee's attack unit is directly responsible for 28 opposing points – four cheap touchdowns – over the past five games.

Here's a recap:

- Outback Bowl vs. Penn State: Arian Foster fumbles. The Nittany Lions' Tony Davis returns it 88 yards for a touchdown.

- Game 1 vs. California: Erik Ainge fumbles. The Golden Bears' Worrell Williams returns it 45 yards for a touchdown.

- Game 3 vs. Florida: Ainge and Foster botch a handoff. The Gators' Dustin Doe returns it 18 yards for a touchdown.

- Game 4 vs. Arkansas State: Ainge throws an interception. The Indians' Tyrell Johnson returns it 54 yards for a touchdown.

Cutcliffe recently noted that his troops have had "a miniscule number of plays" that proved "disastrous," adding: "What I'm most sick over is the ball being turned over at critical times."

Reminded following Tuesday's practice that his attack unit has surrendered four TDs in the past five games, the Vol aide said the remedy is simple.

"You just coach every little detail," Cutcliffe replied. "They have to understand that ball security is an all-the-time thing."

Obviously, no team is mistake-free. Turnovers are commonplace in college football. But touchdown-producing turnovers are NOT commonplace … except at Tennessee.

Asked about the Vols' penchant for surrendering gift touchdowns, Phillip Fulmer touched on the causes of this season's turnover TDs.

The head man said that a running back "busted an assignment against Cal" by failing to pick up the blitz, leading to the fumble-causing sack of Ainge in Game 1.

Fulmer noted that the fumble vs. Florida in Game 3 occurred because Ainge was handing off with his left hand in an effort to protect a broken finger on his right hand. "He'd gotten away with it in practice," the coach said, "so that was just unfortunate."

Regarding Ainge's interception vs. Arkansas State in Game 4, the head man said: "He wasn't throwing the ball to Chris (Brown). He was throwing it to the deeper receiver and just never saw the (defender). That can happen to a quarterback."

Instead of one recurring theme in UT's touchdown-producing turnovers, there has been an assortment of costly calamities.

"It's just a series of dang bad luck in a couple of cases," Fulmer said. "We've got to avoid those kind of things."

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