No air-mail for this package

The G-Gun must be a fragile package because Tennessee's offensive coaches seem awfully reluctant to air-mail it.

Whenever sophomore wideout Gerald Jones lines up as a shotgun quarterback the Vols drop their "balance is best" mantra in favor of a new philosophy: The run is fun. The pass is passe'.

In 17 games as a Volunteer, Jones has run the ball 14 times from the G-Gun formation. He has yet to attempt a pass. It's difficult to be more predictable than that.

Jones was a heralded high school quarterback back in Oklahoma City. Given his one-dimensional use in the G-Gun, however, you have to wonder: Can he throw the football?

"Of course, I can," he said, flashing a big grin. "I can throw the football. I think I proved it in the spring (with a touchdown pass in the Orange & White Game). And, I know this is not high school, but I did a pretty good job in high school. I've got confidence in my arm."

Perhaps Tennessee's coaches don't share that confidence. Or maybe they think the G-Gun is novel enough to succeed without the threat of a pass. If so, they might want to rethink that. After rushing for 30 yards on his first four G-Gun carries of 2008, Jones' final two carries in last weekend's loss to Florida resulted in a one-yard loss and a no-gain.

"Toward the end you could see Florida really biting on the run (as if) that's all there was going to be," Jones recalled. "I felt we would've snuck somebody out the back and let me throw it but we didn't."

When asked if his passing ability will be unveiled soon, Jones nodded.

"It has to be," he replied. "If the G-Gun package is successful it has to be (unveiled) because we've got to keep the defense honest."

Based on the practices leading up to the Florida game, Jones fully expected to utilize his right arm against the Gators.

"Yeah," he said, "I actually thought we were going to throw."

One advantage of the G-Gun is that Tennessee can switch to the package at any time. Upon breaking the huddle, Jones and quarterback Jonathan Crompton merely exchange places.

"I think every time I've run it a quarterback was out there," Jones said.

So, would he ever throw the ball to Crompton?

"Nah," Jones said, clearly incredulous. "I'm not going to throw HIM the ball."

The way things have been going, Jones isn't going to throw ANYONE the ball. He believes that could change this weekend at Auburn, however. He says offensive coordinator Dave Clawson is expanding the G-Gun package to include some new wrinkles, including a few more pass plays.

"We've got so many things we can do out of it, and we haven't shown anybody," Jones said. "A lot of people are going to be expecting the run, so I wouldn't surprised if, come Auburn, I might be throwing it.

"There's so many more things we can do in that package that we haven't brought out yet."

Clawson concedes that there's plenty the Vols have revealed thus far.

"We have more out of it," he said. "We believe Gerald Jones is one of our best playmakers, and the G-Gun package is there in part to ensure that he has his hands on the football."

Between G-Gun snaps and receptions, Jones had nine touches vs. Florida. Counting five passes thrown his way that were incomplete, he was the focal point in 14 of Tennessee's 59 offensive snaps.

"That's almost one in four plays that ended up in his direction," Clawson noted. "We made a big emphasis to try and get him the ball. When they (Gators) gave him some coverage looks that made it tough, we jumped into the G-Gun and made sure he got his touches that way."

Asked if Jones will get to throw the ball soon, the coordinator smiled smugly and replied:

"Oh ... maybe."

Inside Tennessee Top Stories