Timing is everything?

The old adage that "Timing is everything" took a hit in Tennessee's first spring football scrimmage last Saturday.

The Vols did not incur a single delay-of-game penalty, which seems to suggest the offensive players did a great job of following orders. In fact, it was the officials who did a great job of following orders: Those orders: Forget the play clock. Don't stop play by calling a delay.

"There was probably a dozen times in the first scrimmage that we had clock problems that we didn't call," head coach Phillip Fulmer said this week. "I just noted 'em on my cards because we didn't want to disrupt the scrimmage."

With the Vols already battling to learn a new offensive scheme and new offensive terminology, the coach wanted to prevent his players from battling the play clock, as well.

"Right now," Fulmer said, "everybody's head's still in a spin a little bit."

Although the Vols are having to assimilate, store and process a lot of new information this spring, the head man believes his players are happily embracing the new attack being implemented by first-year offensive coordinator Dave Clawson.

"I think as we go along they'll become more excited about it," Fulmer said. "We want to be, first and foremost, a fundamentally sound team. Dave feels exactly the same way I feel about that: You can't go to the next level until you accomplish all you want to at the first level."

The step-by-step approach seems to be working. The head coach thinks Tennessee's offensive players moved in the right direction during last Saturday's scrimmage and did so again in Tuesday's practice.

"We took a step today," he said following the workout, noting that the staff picked up "some positive things from the tape to have some better answers for the offense and to make the defense defend the field a little bit more."

Fulmer hopes his offensive players can take another step this Saturday in Scrimmage No. 2 by changing some plays at the line of scrimmage.

"We're going to allow the quarterbacks to handle some of the at-the-line checks," the head man said, noting that he will be watching the QBs closely to monitor how they handle "the checks, the snap count and play clock."

Obviously, the progress of the offense depends heavily on the progress of the quarterbacks. Asked what he will be looking for from the signal-callers in Scrimmage No. 2, Fulmer answered without hesitation.

"Just the operation of the game," he said. "There's certainly plenty of ability. The scheme is really good but now we've got to manage it."

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