Why not run more?

Tennessee's Game 1 loss at UCLA raised a lot of questions. Foremost among them is: Why didn't the Vols run the ball more?

You'd think Tennessee would want to put the game in the hands of a senior tailback with tons of experience (Arian Foster) rather than a junior quarterback with virtually no meaningful experience (Jonathan Crompton).

The fact Foster (13 carries for 96 yards) and backup Montario Hardesty (12 for 66) combined to average 6.48 yards per carry, while Crompton completed just 19 of 41 throws makes the question even more perplexing:

Why didn't the Vols run the ball more?

Dave Clawson, Tennessee's first-year offensive coordinator, conceded that the question is an obvious one.

"You look at the numbers," he said, "and it's easy to say, 'Yeah, you should have run the ball more.'"

Based on UCLA's defensive talent, Tennessee wasn't expecting to run the ball so effectively and pass the ball so ineffectively. Clawson noted that the Bruins have two defensive tackles (Brian Price, Brigham Harwell) who are "NFL prospects" and a superior middle linebacker (Reggie Carter). Conversely, Clawson said UCLA "had graduated their entire secondary except one guy."

Tennessee's success running the ball in the first half of Game 1 surprised both the Vol and UCLA coaching staffs. Eventually, the Vols began callling more runs. The Bruins responded by putting extra men in the box to try and force Tennessee to pass.

"They gave us looks where you have to be able to throw it, and that's where the breakdown was," Clawson said. "We were getting looks to throw it, and we weren't executing the passing game as effectively as we needed to."

Even after UCLA began crowding the line of scrimmage, Foster and Hardesty managed to post some nice runs.

"We ran it against some bad looks," Clawson conceded. "We ran it against some pressures and some safeties in the box there and still managed to be productive."

The passing game, conversely, was not productive for most of the second half. Often throwing under duress, Crompton threw eight consecutive incompletions in the third and fourth quarters, during which time a 14-7 Vol lead turned into a 17-14 deficit en route to a 27-24 overtime defeat.

Clawson was not expecting the ground game to be so good in Game 1. Nor was he expecting the passing attack to be so erratic in Game 1. He's hoping the latter will be much more efficient this Saturday vs. UAB in Game 2.

"Now the thing you have to do is you have to develop a more efficient, more effective passing game," he said. "You need the ability to do both (run and pass). I was disappointed we didn't execute the passing game better."

So, why didn't Tennessee run the ball more in Game 1?

Basically, because UCLA dared the Vols to throw ... and the Vols took the dare.


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