Choosing a plan of attack

After 15 days of spring practice, Dave Clawson will spend the next 15 weeks designing Tennessee's 2008 offense.

Armed with 11 spring practice tapes and four scrimmage tapes, the new offensive coordinator's challenge in May, June and July is to determine who the Vols' best weapons are, what each of them does best and which plays best utilize their talents.

Fresh from a highly successful stint as head coach at Div. 1-AA Richmond, Clawson accepted the coordinator job at UT in January, then spent March and April teaching Tennessee's players his version of the West Coast Offense. He fed them the package in small portions but eventually gave them everything on the shelf.

"As we evaluated the personnel, we wanted to expose them to everything that could possibly be called in the fall," he recalled. "It might not have been fair to the players but we almost threw more at them in the spring than we'll throw at them in the fall."

When he wasn't installing new terminology, new techniques and new plays, Clawson was busy observing and analyzing the new players he's entrusted with molding into a potent offense by fall.

"As you evaluate your personnel, you figure out what your personality is going to be from a personnel standpoint and also who your players are upfront and what they do well," the coordinator said. "It's hard to evaluate what they can and can't do unless you expose them to everything, so we threw everything at them."

Now that the Vols have processed all of the information thrown at them during spring practice, Clawson must process all of the information he can glean from studying the 15 spring practice films. Once he determines which players give Tennessee the best chance to win, he'll determine which plays fit those players the best.

"Now our challenge is to evaluate our personnel and (ask) 'What do these guys do well?' Then you add to those packages," Clawson said. The things you struggled with (during the spring), either we don't put them in at all or you reduce how often we run it or how many ways we run it."

By eliminating the plays Tennessee struggled with in the spring, the coordinator will have a thinner playbook heading into the fall.

"I think the package in the fall will actually be condensed now that we've been able to evaluate the personnel," Clawson said. "When you combine how much we threw at them with how multiple we are on defense, assignment-wise, we gave them a lot."

The upside is this: Everything that could be thrown at the Vols was thrown at them in the spring. As a result, preseason drills may seem like a picnic.

"We exposed them to everything we may call," Clawson said. "Now that we've evaluated the personnel, we can narrow down the package and be a little more focused going into the fall."


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