Vols unveil new look

Tennessee has only inserted about a third of its new offense, according to new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson.

But there was enough on display at Saturday's first major scrimmage of the spring to illustrate that fans will see something a bit new this fall.

For one, the Vols threw more slants.

Secondly, they threw bubble screens that worked.

Thirdly, some of the formations were slightly different.

And fourth, they cleared out one side of the field for a tight end to run a drag route toward the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

When is the last time you saw Tennessee do that with a tight end?

It didn't add up to 60 points. But it did indicate Clawson might have some different plays up his sleeve. Yet, there is so much more to get done on offense.

Clawson trotted out quite a few formations.

``That's what we like to do,'' Clawson said. ``We like to look extremely multiple. You saw us shifting and motioning and trading. When we do that we're trying to put a defense on edge a little bit.... We're trying to learn something about the defense, as well.

``We're not to the point that we're really taking advantage of that stuff because we don't have our whole offense in.''

Clawson estimated he's put in about 35-40 percent of the offense and hopes by next week, he'll have in about 60-65 percent of it. He said he may only get 75 percent in by the end of spring.

That tells me he isn't throwing the entire playbook at his players. He inserted things he believes they can digest.

What's that old saying: Paralysis by analysis?

It looks like Clawson wants to stay away from that.

Not inserting everything did have one negative effect. The defensive line tipped about five passes, several by first-team quarterback Jonathan Crompton.

Was that a worry?

``I don't get overly concerned about that because there are times we'll let our offensive linemen cut and we haven't put that protection in yet,'' Clawson said. ``Obviously when you have 3-4 tipped passes, you start saying, man we've got to get that cup protection in.''

The slants were noticeable. Former offensive David Cutcliffe appeared to run more slants with the likes of Peyton Manning and Eli Manning than he did with, say, Erik Ainge.

Slants are typical of what Clawson likes in his offense.

``If we can get guys isolated, you need to run individual cuts and one of the individual cuts we like to run is a slant,'' Clawson said. ``I think we've got guys that run the route well and I think we've got guys that will do things with it after they catch it. Part of it was based on what our defense was giving us.''

Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore were prime targets on the slants. Moore was also effective catching the bubble screen. Some UT fans have come to dread the bubble screen because it hasn't worked all that well in recent seasons. But UT ran it with efficiency Saturday.

Maybe it's the way Clawson runs it or maybe it's the timing of the play call.

Clawson said he thought Crompton managed the offense well.

``The ball was going where it needed to go,'' Clawson said. ``We've got to get a little better rhythm. We've just got to get the quarterback and receivers on the same page.

``I thought at times his eyes were going where they should go and the ball was going where it should go, but we've got to clean up some timing issues.''

One issue was Crompton throwing a quick pass on a hot-route against a blitz. The receiver didn't break off the route or look for the ball, leading to an interception by Demetrice Morley, who made an impressive return.

Clawson said it's the first time UT has run that play. He hopes the next time it's run, the players don't make the same mistake.

Clawson said part of the lessons he wanted to learn from the scrimmage was where the breaking point is for his personnel.

``What things do they get? What concepts do they understand?'' Clawson said. ``One of the things we obviously need to work on is assignments and if guys know they're assignments, who's able to execute it.''

Another challenge is player evaluation.

``We need to make sure we have the right guys in the right spots,'' Clawson said. ``I think we found out something today and we'll find out more next week.''

Asked if he thinks he's got the right players in the right places. Clawson said: ``I think we're learning that. I think we'll have to make some personnel moves, some of it because of injury and some of it because of performance.''

Two injuries have caused some changes. Tight end Jeff Cottam suffered a broken leg several days ago and offensive lineman Cody Pope was moved to tight end. Fullback David Holbert, who missed last season because of a torn ACL, suffered a broken leg. That caused UT to run more three wideout sets.

``You have an installation plan,'' Clawson said, ``and that thing will change as you go along.''

It already has.


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