Who's the QB?

When Tennessee's new offensive coordinator says he can't offer many specifics on the Vols' 2008 offense he isn't being coy. He'll know a lot more about the attack once he knows who his quarterback is likely to be.

"You've got to take your best player and make the system fit him," Dave Clawson said recently. "I think the one thing we've done (during his stint as head coach at Richmond) is that we've had a flexible system so that we've always been able to play the best player and take advantage of his strengths, rather than take a square peg and try to put it in a round hole."

Clawson will tailor Tennessee's 2008 offense to the strengths of either rising junior Jonathan Crompton, rising sophomore Nick Stephens or redshirt freshman B. J. Coleman. Whichever man wins the job, Clawson believes the philosophy for '08 won't be a drastic departure from '07. He says his scheme at Richmond was similar to the one UT predecessor David Cutcliffe ran in recent years.

"Once the plays are installed, a lot of the principles that Coach Cutcliffe used we're going to use as well," he said. "One of the reasons I am here is that it's not that far removed from some of the principles of attack that have been used here for years."

Like Cutcliffe, Clawson strives to field an offense that is multiple and balanced.

"Some of the concepts aren't that much different," the new coordinator said. "Tennessee is known to run the football, be physical and run downhill. And we've got some very good receivers here who I think are going to be able to make some plays in space."

Still, there will be some inevitable growing pains as the Vols move from Cutcliffe and his system to Clawson and his system. The adjustment will take some time and some diligence.

"I think the biggest challenge now is just getting everybody on the same page," Clawson said. "We're going to have four new offensive coaches (so the key is) just taking the old system with the new coaches and trying to combine it as well as we can to make this as seamless a transition as we can make it."

While his philosophy is similar to Cutcliffe's, Clawson concedes that his system will require the Vols to learn quite a few new wrinkles in the months ahead.

"That's a lot of very detailed work," he said.

Even so, Clawson is eager to get down to business. He did a lot of background checking on the Vol program before accepting the coordinator job, and liked everything he heard. So, as much as he enjoyed his stint at Richmond, he expects to find Tennessee even more to his liking.

"I loved my job at Richmond," he said. "For me to make a move and leave there, it had to be a great opportunity to work with and for good people. I felt very comfortable after the interview process that that was the case here."

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