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Football practices at Tennessee these days are a lot like family reunions: The goal is getting everybody in the picture.

To promote better downfield blocking, Vol coaches closely examine practice tapes to see which offensive linemen are in the video frame at the end of each successful running play. If you're in the frame, you're going to be praised. If you aren't, you're likely to be chastised.

"When we get a running back 20 yards downfield, every one of those offensive linemen better get in that video," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said this week. "That's what we're pressing to these young men: We've got to get down the field more in the offensive line. They're buying into that and they're working hard to get there."

Downfield blocking by Tennessee's wide receivers is also at the top of the practice priority list.

"Perimeter blocking is paramount," Chaney said. "One of the things I've been most pleased with this spring is how our wide receivers have blocked. Our physical nature on the perimeter has really been a plus for our offense throughout the spring."

The coordinator went on to note that Vol wideouts "have created some issues for the defense," adding: "I don't think any defensive back likes to get blocked by a wide receiver, and wide receivers love to attack defensive backs."

New receivers coach Frank Wilson doesn't have the fastest group of pass catchers in the SEC but he might have the most determined group of downfield blockers in the league.

"The competitiveness of our kids has really shined in that group," Chaney said. "I think Coach Wilson's really done a wonderful job getting that out of those guys. And I think it's part of them. I don't believe that (aggressiveness) is something we've had to bring out; I think it's part of who they are in that group of wide receivers."

One of those receivers, junior Gerald Jones, thought the linemen and receivers showed their aggressiveness at the start of last Friday's full-scale scrimmage only to lose it as the workout progressed.

"I think the biggest difference was our intensity," he recalled. "When we first started our first play was a big gain ... Montario (Hardesty) had about a 15-yard gain and everybody was in the camera. We want everybody in the camera – everybody running down the field with the ball-carrier and blocking downfield.

"On that first play we was blocking downfield. Come play 30 and 35, you see less and less people downfield blocking, including myself. I catch myself watching sometimes, too. That's the biggest disappointment. They (coaches) are not going to let that continue to happen, so we'll change."

To emphasize the "everyone in the video" mindset, head coach Lane Kiffin recently played a practice clip from his days as offensive coordinator at Southern Cal.

"Coach Kiffin showed us a clip of a USC practice with the offense backed up on the 2-yard line," Jones noted. "They did a run play that went for about 60 or 70 yards, and the whole offensive line ran down the field blocking.

"He (Kiffin) said that should be our attitude. We're getting there but we're not there yet. We should have the energy level they had on that play on every play."

When asked if he remembered which USC running back made the long run on the practice tape, Jones shook his head and smiled.

"I don't remember but he was fast," he said. "He was way faster than me."


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