Lock and load

Tennessee's offensive coaches are not known for thinking outside the box, yet they did so in 2007 by installing the "G-Gun package" featuring freshman wide receiver Gerald Jones lined up as a direct-snap tailback.

Now fans are waiting to see if Vol staffers will take the next step, and actually utilize it.

Jones ran three plays out of the G-Gun in the SEC Championship Game against LSU – gaining 20 yards on the first, handing to Arian Foster for five yards on the second and keeping for 19 yards on the third.

Then, inexplicably, the Vols never utilized it again ... not once on their last six possessions, Down 21-14, Tennessee moved inside the LSU 25-yard line twice in the final seven minutes. No G-Gun. No points. No SEC title.

Considering that Jones averaged 19.5 yards per carry out of the G-Gun against an excellent LSU defense, you'd figure the package would be a key element of Tennessee's offensive arsenal for the upcoming Outback Bowl game against Wisconsin. Sure enough, early indications are that Jones and the G-Gun could figure prominently in the Vol gameplan.

"We've got a little package ready for him," offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe said, shortly before deftly steering the conversation away from UT's gameplan.

"I had a lot of package ready for him in August, then he went and got hurt," the Vol aide added, referring to a preseason hamstring injury that sidelined Jones for several weeks.

Like Darren McFadden, who runs a similar direct-snap package for Arkansas, Jones played quarterback in high school. As a result, he is quite comfortable taking snaps, running the ball, throwing the ball and making hand-offs.

"He's a guy that's a quarterback," Cutcliffe said. "He can play quarterback. He can manage the game. That's why I had no fear about putting him in there once we really got everything up to speed (near the end of the regular season)."

Although Jones enjoyed some success running the G-Gun in November, he looked really comfortable – and almost unstoppable – against LSU on Dec. 1 ... with the SEC championship on the line.

"That was a pretty important game and situation when he came on the field," Cutcliffe conceded. "He did a tremendous job. He'll be a part of the equation (in the Outback Bowl)."

Jones, a 6-0, 185-pounder from Oklahoma City, reportedly is an accomplished passer. He has yet to attempt his first pass in a Vol game but that may be forthcoming Tuesday in Tampa.

"He throws the ball really well," Cutcliffe said. "He's accurate. He hasn't got what you'd call a cannon but he can throw the football. We've got a couple of little things in there for him."

You know what they say: Little things mean a lot.


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