G-Gun is on target

One of the oldest axioms in sport is that "You play like you practice" ... to which Tennessee offensive coordinator Dave Clawson says, "Yeah, right."

Mindful that quarterback-turned-receiver Gerald Jones had never thrown the ball out of the so-called "G-Gun" direct-snap package in an actual game, Clawson decided to hone Jones' passing skills in practice last week. The results were not encouraging but that didn't stop Clawson from calling for a G-Gun pass in the second quarter of Saturday's Orange & White Game.

"Whenever you put a special play in practice that doesn't work, that means it'll probably work in the game," Clawson deadpanned. "Whereas, if you put a trick play in practice that works, it has no shot of working (in the game).

"When we worked on it (in practice) I don't know if we hit a one, so I said, 'That play's going to work.'"

It did.

Jones ran maybe a dozen snaps out of the G-Gun last fall, either handing off or keeping the ball every single time. He did not attempt a pass out of the formation all season. So, when he ran a G-Gun keeper for 12 yards on the White team's fourth offensive snap in Saturday's game, none of the 28,988 fans at Neyland Stadium were surprised.

The next time Jones lined up in the G-Gun, more than one member of the press corps mumbled words to the effect: "OK, which way does he run this time, left or right?"

This time, though, would be different. Jones took the direct snap, scanned the field, then threw a 17-yard touchdown strike to Denarius Moore that may have surprised the Orange defense as much as it surprised the assembled media.

"It just worked the way we planned it to," Jones said, grinning broadly. "Hopefully, I'll be throwing the ball a little bit more."

That would be prudent since Jones says he "threw the ball quite a bit in high school."

Indeed. The 6-0, 185-pounder played quarterback at Millwood High of Oklahoma City, passing for 850 yards as a junior and 1,561 as a senior.

"I'm comfortable with it," he said.

Still, Jones admitted that his pass attempts in practice last week did not suggest he's ready to launch an all-out assault on Peyton Manning's school records.

"I overthrew D-Mo (Denarius Moore) in practice," Jones said. "He told me to throw it far, so I threw it far and he didn't go get it. But Coach (Clawson) said, 'That's good. If it doesn't work in practice it's going to work in the game.'"

Now that Tennessee's future opponents know Jones is a legitimate threat to pass the ball out of the G-Gun, they won't be able to overplay the keeper every time he lines up in the formation. That should make the package more effective.

"I think that will make it very hard to stop," Jones said. "When you've got to cover the pass and you've got to cover the run – and both of them are working effectively – it's kind of hard to stop."

Of course, it's only hard to stop if you use it. Clawson hinted that fans may have seen the last of the G-Gun Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium.

"We were just having fun with it," the coordinator said. "I don't know if we're going to do that next year or not."

Yeah, right.

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