Changing of the guard

There were some heated moments in the trenches during Saturday's Orange & White Game but, in the end, a cooler head prevailed.

It belonged to Anthony Parker.

Parker, a 6-3, 305-pound senior guard from Jonesboro, Ga., has been known for two things during his Tennessee football career – his strong blocking and his long hair. Now he's known for only the former.

In a brief post-game ceremony on Shields-Watkins Field, Parker got his first haircut since junior high. Teammate Arian Foster did the trimming. The obvious concern: On his next trip to the weight room, will Parker discover that – like Samson of Biblical fame – the loss of hair has brought a corresponding loss of strength?

"I've got to check on that tomorrow," he quipped.

Tennessee fans can only hope Parker's strength isn't tied to his hair because he was Tennessee's best blocker as a junior last fall, earning second-team All-America honors from the Associated Press.

Following the shearing ceremony, Parker repeatedly ran his right hand over his freshly trimmed scalp.

"It feels funny," he said. "Cold."

In addition to a new "do," Parker is adjusting to a new offense these days. First-year coordinator Dave Clawson added new terminology and elements of the West Coast attack to Tennessee's package during the spring. That meant a lot of extra study for Parker and his offensive mates but he figures the work will be worthwhile come fall.

"It definitely opens up the running game," he said of the West Coast Offense. "There are so many formations and so many match-ups that move guys around on defense, allowing us to run the ball when we want to run the ball."

The WCO spreads a defense by utilizing a lot of short to intermediate passes. This creates better blocking angles for the offensive linemen and wider running lanes for the backs.

"That's definitely what it is," Parker said. "We're creating a lot of mismatches, and that's allowing us to do the things we want to do. That gives us advantages on every play, with the offensive style he (Clawson) has put in."

After three years in essentially the same offensive system, Parker says the adjustment to the new system was not as difficult as some might expect.

"It's the same plays but different name-calling," he said. "And there's different ways we block certain plays. But, for the most part, it's the same."

Basically, the Vol attack is a lot like Parker's head: It hasn't changed drastically but it's sporting a cool new look.


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