Tennessee, coming off a 10-win season, won just five football games in 2005. Tennessee, coming off a 10-win season, won just five football games in 2008.
Tennessee had an excellent defense but a woeful offense in 2005. Tennessee had an excellent defense but a woeful offense in 2008.
Tennessee ran off its offensive coordinator, its offensive line coach and its receivers coach after the 2005 season. Tennessee ran off its entire coaching staff after the 2008 season.
Perhaps the greatest similarity between '05 and '08, however, was this: The quarterbacks got most of the blame each time. In '05 it was Erik Ainge and Rick Clausen who were in the cross-hairs. In '08 it was Jonathan Crompton, Nick Stephens and B. J. Coleman.
This bit of information would come as no surprise to Jim Chaney, Tennessee's new offensive coordinator. After 24 years in the coaching ranks, he understands that the quarterbacks always catch most of the heat when things go wrong. Heck, he saw it happen on The Hill this spring.
"The quarterback position is the one that gets all of the blame when you lose and all of the benefits when you win," he said.
Chaney believes this is terribly unfortunate because, more often than not, the real blame for an unsuccessful pass play lies elsewhere.
"When you throw the football, timing is so important," the coordinator said. "If a receiver is two yards short on his route and getting a little too wide on his break, then the cornerback's involved and it looks like the timing's off, so (everyone assumes) the quarterback's messed up again.
"Or the left guard jump-sets, as opposed to pass-sets, and the 3-technique (defensive tackle) beats him and gets a little pressure. But (everyone says) the quarterback didn't step up enough.
"So, once again, everybody notices the quarterback position. But it takes all 11 of them in a timing situation."
Timing passes are an integral part of Tennessee's offense, which is why quarterbacks Crompton, Coleman and Stephens looked pretty bad on some of their practice throws this spring. Sometimes it was the QB's fault. More often, it was a receiver or a pass protector or a combination of the two.
Regardless, Chaney believes the air attack made steady strides as Tennessee's spring workouts progressed.
"We're not where we need to be yet in the timing of our passing game but we feel very comfortable that we're on schedule to be there," he said. "That's the key to the thing."