Clawson picks press box

Dave Clawson is a big-picture guy, and he believes he can see the big picture better from the press box than from the sidelines.

That's why Tennessee's first-year offensive coordinator will be calling plays from high atop Rose Bowl Stadium Monday night against UCLA, rather than from the sidelines.

Obviously, the atmosphere in the press box is totally different from the atmosphere on the sidelines. It's more subdued. More detached. More clinical.

"It's a much different environment," Clawson conceded. "In some ways it's good and in some ways it's bad. Sometimes it feels like you're in an office rather than at a football game. It's quiet and you don't hear crowd noise as much. But I think it helps you make adjustments."

The roar of 107,000 fans is an obvious distraction but it's just part of the chaos at field level. Coaches and players are milling around, obstructing your view and disrupting your concentration. And, because your sight line lacks elevation, you basically see only the near side of the field.

"But there's a reason that other coaches stay on the field," Clawson noted.

Indeed. Working from the sidelines gives you a better feel for the momentum and flow of the game. It also gives you face-to-face interaction with your players. That can be crucial with a relatively inexperienced quarterback such as Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton.

"That's important," Clawson said. "But, to gain a better view and to make better adjustments, you've got to give something up. There will be a direct phone line so I'll be able to speak with Jonathan.

"I won't be able to have that eye-to-eye contact with him, which I wish I could, but I think there's more to be gained by being up there where I can see things and help him make adjustments."

Clawson has a system in place that he believes will enable him to communicate effectively with the coaches on the sidelines and with Crompton.

"It's important that Jonathan and I and the (field-level) coaches have great communication," the coordinator said. "We're going to work hard to do that."

The fact Clawson will spend Game 1 in the press box does not mean he will spend Game 12 in the press box. He will consider moving to the sidelines if developments suggest a switch might be warranted.

"You can always revisit these things," Clawson said, "but we have a plan in place on how we're going to call plays, and our signal system and our communication. Obviously, the only reason to change things like that is if things go wrong. You hope that doesn't happen to a degree that we have to switch it, and I don't think it will."

Clawson's decision was not a hasty one. He spent a lot of time weighing the pros and cons before deciding to call plays from the press box.

"That's how we're going to start the season," he said, "and, hopefully, that's how we're going to finish it."


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