Getting to know you

After rarely connecting on the field last fall, Tennessee's quarterbacks and receivers are trying to connect off the field this spring.

If the buddy system produces the desired result, the Vols may actually have a competent passing attack in 2009. Gerald Jones, UT's leading receiver last fall with a mere 30 catches and a modest 10.8-yard average, is convinced that developing chemistry among QBs and receivers on the field starts off the field.

Tennessee's passers and pass-catchers had no semblance of chemistry last fall. As a result, the '08 Vols completed just 49.5 percent of their pass attempts with a paltry nine TD passes in 12 games. Asked to pinpoint the key to better chemistry, Jones answered without hesitation:

"The time put in outside of practice," he said. "It's about how much we want it. Even just hanging out on weekends, getting to know each other – what you like, what you dislike – it builds that chemistry on the field.

"On a lot of teams with that quarterback/wide receiver chemistry, they do hang out on weekends and they do stay after practice to throw and communicate. That's the No. 1 thing."

Asked if he notes Tennessee's quarterbacks and receivers hanging out together more this spring than last spring, Jones nodded emphatically.

"Oh, yeah. Most definitely," he said. "These quarterbacks are making sure we spend some time during the week or on the weekend just to get to know each other."

Tennessee fielded a superior defense last fall but a putrid offense failed to carry its share of the load, resulting in a 5-7 record that cost head coach Phillip Fulmer his job. With the arrival of a new coaching staff and the start of 2009 spring practice, the Vols at long last are able to put the '08 nightmare behind them.

"Oh, yeah. That's over and done with," Jones said. "We had a terrible year, and we're doing everything we can right now to not let that happen again. And I guarantee you these coaches will not let that happen again."

Inside Tennessee Top Stories