Carryover is key for UT

Because he was installing a new scheme with new terminology, Tennessee offensive coordinator Dave Clawson started spring practice from scratch. He isn't planning to do so again in August.

Clawson says the Vols had better retain just about everything they learned this spring when they show up for preseason drills in August. Otherwise, the Big Orange could be in for a rough September.

"There needs to be a lot of carryover from spring to camp," the new coordinator says. "If we feel like we're starting from Square One when we get to fall camp, we're in trouble."

Although Clawson threw a lot of information at the Vols during spring practice, he did not install the entire offensive package. Some of it remains to be put in when the team re-assembles in August.

"If we got 90 percent of it in, I hope when we start fall camp (the players are saying), 'Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I remember this,'" Clawson says. "That'll help our development."

Tennessee suffered some obvious growing pains in the new West Coast Offense during the early weeks of spring practice. The light finally came on in Scrimmage No. 3 on April 12, and the offense peaked with a good showing in last Saturday's Orange & White Game. Clawson is encouraged by the progress.

"I think every time we go through it you'll get a little better," he notes.

There are many lessons still to be learned, however. As a result, it's inevitable that there will be more growing pains in August.

"With as multiple as we can be on defense, there's so many scenarios that can come up that maybe you didn't cover every single one in the meeting," Clawson says. "It'll show up on the practice field or in a film session and you think, 'Gee, we didn't cover this.'"

Given how mightily the offense struggled during the first four weeks of spring practice, the new coordinator was understandably encouraged by Saturday's big finish. Particularly encouraging was the play of quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who completed 13 of 20 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns. His only mistake came on his final attempt of the day, when he tried to force a throw to tight end Luke Stocker that was picked off by linebacker LaMarcus Thompson.

"We had a tight end down the middle of the field, and that thing should be thrown away or over the top ... not underthrown," Clawson says. "It's the type of throw that, if you make it to a receiver who has a chance to separate, it's not a bad ball. But to a tight end, you have to realize the matchup you have."

All in all, though, Crompton and his mates on the first-team offense played very well. They hung 35 first-half points on the No. 2 defense before wilting a bit thereafter.

"I thought things got a little bit sloppy," Clawson says of the second-half play. "It's just learning to play a full game. But (No. 1 tailback) Arian Foster doesn't play and we pulled (standout receiver) Gerald Jones. Those things weigh into it, too."

On the plus side, limiting Foster to one carry and limiting Jones to three catches and a couple of G-Gun snaps enabled Tennessee's coaches to take longer looks at some of the younger players – mid-term freshman tailback Tauren Poole, sophomore fullback Kevin Cooper and sophomore wideout Denarius Moore, for instance.

"On the positive, it was great to see Tauren Poole get reps with the Ones," Clawson concedes. "It was great to see Kevin Cooper get so much work. It was great to see Denarius Moore and those guys get all the reps with the Ones.

"That's only going to help us at some point."

Inside Tennessee Top Stories