Passing woes

Just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to complete a pass - the person who throws the ball and the person who catches the ball.

A lot of Tennessee fans are complaining about the person who throws the ball, senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton, but there is evidence to suggest that the people entrusted with catching the ball aren't exactly playing like All-Americans, either.

Consider:

GAME 2: With Tennessee trailing UCLA 19-10 early in the fourth quarter, Denarius Moore dropped a third-down pass at the UCLA 5-yard line. Tennessee settled for a field goal and wound up losing by four points. Fellow wideout Gerald Jones admitted after the game that he ran three wrong routes and was a key figure in the setback.

GAME 3: With UT down 10-3 late in the first half, Jones caught an apparent TD pass in the right corner of the end zone but was ruled to have stepped on the side boundary. On the next play Quintin Hancock failed to run his route precisely, resulting in an incompletion. The Vols settled for a field goal and a 10-6 deficit instead of a touchdown and a 10-all tie. With Tennessee trailing 13-6 in the third quarter but driving for the tying score, Jones made his cut too early, and a Crompton pass was intercepted near the Florida 30-yard line. The Vols wound up losing by 10 points.

Although many fans think Crompton is solely to blame for Tennessee's passing woes, head coach Lane Kiffin has another explanation.

"Details ... the littlest things," he said. "If you go back to the second down on the goal line (vs. Florida), if Gerald stays in bounds it's a touchdown there. The third-down play, if Quintin motions out a little further we have a pick route coming and he's going to be open, but he didn't motion out quite far enough. On the (third-quarter) interception Gerald is supposed to go to the (yard-line) numbers before he turns up on the wheel route. Even at that, if Jonathan makes a little better throw it's complete. It's just real little details in the passing game that are so important."

Given the number of passing-game miscues being laid at the feet of wide receivers, you have to wonder: Are Vol wideouts executing their assignments at a satisfactory level?

Kiffin's response didn't really answer the question.

"One thing is, we haven't given them very many opportunities," he said. "That was part of the game plan last week. They (Gators) have two great corners, and we felt like there were other things to go at during that game that would be better matchups for us. We need to give them more opportunities (this Saturday vs. Ohio University) and they need to produce.

"This will be a big week for them."


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