Kelley's impact on the decline

Kelley Washington's impact on the Tennessee offense ain't what it used to be. And, unless Casey Clausen is back at quarterback for the Alabama game, that trend may continue.

After catching seven passes for 197 yards in Game 3 vs. Rutgers and six balls for 112 yards in Game 4 vs. Arkansas, Kelley Washington caught just three passes for 32 yards last weekend at Georgia. His first catch resulted in a four-yard loss, his second in a nine-yard loss. A 45-yard gain on his final reception upgraded his stats to the respectable level.

What were the Bulldogs doing to shut him down?

''Basically, they had a defensive back in my face and a safety over the top, so we looked elsewhere (for passing yardage),'' Washington explained.

Helping Georgia stop KW was the fact Tennessee had to give the QB reins to little-used junior C.J. Leak and untested freshman James Banks. As a result, the Big Orange adopted an ultra-conservative approach.

''We were limited in our playcalling,'' Washington said. ''It's tough when you can't use your whole offense -- the offense that's geared around stopping that double coverage. It's kind of frustrating but, as a team player, I've got to do other things -- like blocking for my teammates.''

Making just one catch that gained yardage was understandably tough for KW, who also picked up 10 rushing yards on an end-around.

''As a playmaker, I want to make as many plays as I can,'' Washington said immediately after the Georgia game. ''But tonight I was unable to get off and get started because of the coverage and the inexperience at quarterback.''

Although a ''vanilla'' gameplan also limited Washington's impact, he declined to second-guess the coaching staff.

''Since Casey wasn't going to play, we were going to stay basic -- not doing anything complicated to make our young quarterbacks think too much,'' KW said. ''We needed to open it up more but we were unable to because of inexperience at quarterback.''

Also limiting Washington's impact on the Georgia game was his playing time. He took part in roughly half of Tennessee's offensive snaps.

''The reason he's not out there all the time is that he's still not 100 percent healthy,'' offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said. ''He ended up playing more plays last week (in a six-overtime defeat of Arkansas) than we wanted him to. We're trying to limit his reps so he can be full speed and as fresh as possible when he's in there.''

Inside Tennessee Top Stories