McNeil loves new run scheme

No one relishes Tennessee's new zone-running scheme more than the guy who is smack in the middle of it.

Rising senior center Josh McNeil says the Vols' new scheme makes every offensive lineman's job a whole lot easier.

"We're getting (defensive) people out of position, and the back only has to find a crease instead of us having to push people back five yards to make a big play," McNeil said. "That's really a big change."

Apparently so. A Tennessee team that struggled to run the ball effectively throughout 2008 picked up big chunks of yardage in Saturday's scrimmage. Toney Williams ran for 84 yards and Tauren Poole 81 – each carrying 14 times. Did the new zone-running scheme help the ground attack that much?

"Absolutely," McNeil said. "This type of scheme really enables your offense to go out and make plays in the run game because it's all about getting on a (defender) and letting the running back make a play. When you've got running backs like we do, they can really make you look good.

"I really love this scheme, as far as the run game goes."

Although the new scheme is not particularly complex, McNeil says it would take a long time to mention all of the differences between the new zone-running scheme and the 2007 and 2008 schemes.

"It's completely different than anything we've ever ran here," he said. "For the last couple of years we've run more of a straight-up downhill type of run game, man-on-man (to see) who can root the other one out of the hole. We still have that but now we're stretching teams (to the outside in order to create wider running lanes)."

Although the offense generally performed well in Saturday's scrimmage, the Vols lost three fumbles and an interception. Four turnovers will get you beat against a quality SEC opponent.

"The next step is to quit turning the ball over," McNeil said. "That's the first and main step. You can't win any game without the ball. What we really have to do is keep growing in our consistency, work on becoming a better team every day."

Sounding very much like a coach, McNeil noted that, while the attack units finished strongly on Saturday, they underachieved in the early portion of the scrimmage.

"We need to make sure we start the way we finished," he said, "and we'll be a lot better off."

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