Loading the G-Gun

Tennessee's "G-Gun" will have a little extra ammunition in 2008. It will be armed with insight, as well as instinct.

Last fall the specialty package featuring wide receiver Gerald Jones as a direct-snap tailback couldn't have been simpler. He took the snap, read his blocks and headed upfield. New offensive coordinator Dave Clawson is adding a new wrinkle for 2008, however.

"Coach Clawson is making me learn the defense," Jones said. "I've actually got to read the defense before I call the play. That helps me a lot – to sit down with him and learn the defense, so I'll know what to expect."

A shotgun quarterback during his high school days in Oklahoma City, Jones is no stranger to lining up behind center and reading defenses. He'll just make the reads BEFORE he calls the play this season.

"I'll know where the defense is going to be and what the pursuit angles are, stuff like that," he said.

Clawson called for the G-Gun on the fifth play of Saturday's full-scale scrimmage. The No. 1 defense promptly stopped Jones for no gain. Although Vol defenders weren't surprised, Jones says he had no idea what was coming.

"We put it in Thursday and didn't run it Friday," he recalled. "I didn't know we was going to run it, so he surprised me with it. I was like 'Whoa!'"

Jones ran one more play in the G-Gun package late in the scrimmage, this time finding a crease and spurting ahead for an eight-yard gain.

"I just got out there and did it," he said. "We'll work on it a little more and, hopefully, it'll improve. I think I'll run it a lot better this year. We've just got to get reps."

Jones ran from direct-snap formation eight times last season, gaining 58 yards. Opponents figured out that he almost invariably ran the ball at right tackle and eventually stopped the play cold. Jones gave foes something else to think about in last spring's Orange & White Game, however, firing a 17-yard touchdown pass from direct-snap formation.

"I'm happy Coach even called the pass play," Jones recalled. "I didn't think he was going to call it. It gave me a chance to show I can pass – probably not as good as I can run, but I can pass decent enough to pass the ball in a game. I think it just keeps opposing defenses honest."

Clawson said upon taking the offensive coordinator reins that he wanted Jones to focus less energy on being a direct-snap tailback and more energy on becoming a polished receiver. That mission has been accomplished. The 6-0, 185-pound sophomore started ahead of senior Josh Briscoe and junior Austin Rogers on Saturday, then led all receivers with five catches for 64 yards.

"Transferring from quarterback to receiver, especially here at Tennessee, is a big change," Jones said. "Now that I've got a year under my belt and I know what to expect, I'm doing better."

Jones was just getting familiar with David Cutcliffe's offense when Cutcliffe left to become head man at Duke. Now learning Clausen's version of the West Coast attack, Jones believes he and his teammates are coming along nicely.

"I think we're picking it up real well – from the linemen to the quarterback to the receivers," he said. "As much studying as we do, we should. We've improved a lot since the spring."

Probably no Vol has improved more in the past year than Gerald Jones. One reason is that he has altered a running style that made him susceptible to hamstring injuries.

"The style of my running was why I kept pulling my hamstring," he said. "Since I've been here they've taught me how to run a little bit better. It's all about treatment and all about taking care of your body."

That's important. He'll need good hamstrings to run the G-Gun. And, this year, he'll need a quick mind, as well.

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