Offense 'light years' ahead

Comparing Tennessee's offensive execution four days into 2009 preseason camp to where it was four days into 2008 camp is a little like comparing Jupiter to Mars.

"We're light years ahead of where we were last year," sophomore receiver Todd Campbell said following Thursday's workout. "Last year there was a lot of confusion during the fall but this year we're rolling, and Coach Kiffin is letting us roll."

Apparently so. Thanks to new head coach Lane Kiffin's user-friendly attack, the Vols are completing long passes and popping long runs on a semi-regular basis in practice. Big plays were virtually non-existent this time last year.

Several Tennessee players admit being utterly confused by the West Coast scheme 2008 offensive coordinator Dave Clawson installed a year ago. That was evident as the Vols averaged a paltry 17.3 points per game.

By comparison, Campbell says the pro-style attack implemented by new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is "real different. We don't have to do all the switching like we did last year.... With the staff last year there was a lot of shifts and motions, and a lot of players got confused. This year it's a lot easier."

Although there is some complexity to Tennessee's 2009 offense, it isn't nearly so complicated as the '08 attack.

"It's simplified," Campbell said. "I guess it's like an NFL-style offense, where guys get traded all the time and they've got to come in and play. It's a simplified offense, and the play's going to tell you what to do."

The receivers aren't the only Vols who are embracing the simpler attack. Tennessee's offensive linemen are thrilled, too. The guards and tackles no longer have to flip-flop from one side to the other. In addition, the run-blocking and pass-protecting responsibilities are less involved. As a result, Vol linemen already feel quite comfortable.

Noting that the new blocking scheme is "definitely very player-friendly," senior guard Jacques McClendon added: "It's unbelievable how we've grown in this offense, man. Coach Kiffin, Coach (James) Craig and Coach Chaney have done an unbelievable job making sure the offense is being presented to the offensive line in a presentable manner.

"We're picking it up great. We're already into some of our checks and stuff. It's really going smooth."

It's obvious that the players have tremendous confidence in the offensive system Tennessee coaches are installing this year. That confidence could pay huge dividends in the season to come.

"They make it simple AND everybody's buying into the program," Campbell said. "When you've got a simple offense and people buying into the program, the possibilities are endless."


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