Sanders seeking answers

There were times last season when the UT football team's offense resembled a Keystone Kops film -- a bunch of guys running in every direction with no apparent clue as to what they were doing.

Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders has taken a lot of heat because of last year's troubles, and now he's taking steps to fix the problems this spring.

Asked why he thinks the 2003 offense will be more cohesive, he replied:

''Hopefully, being a year older and more mature, being more comfortable with the offense ... that will help. We went through a phase there where we hurt ourselves with penalties, then a phase where we killed ourselves with turnovers. Then we went through a phase where we kind of lost our confidence a little bit.''

Except for offensive tackle Will Ofenheusle and tight end Jason Witten, Tennessee's offense returns intact from last season. That should help in the area of consistency, assuming the Vols can stay reasonably healthy.

''Hopefully, we'll be able to start this thing over and guys will feel more comfortable,'' Sanders said. ''Hopefully, we'll stay healthy, so guys are practicing Monday through Friday, then playing on Saturday, instead of playing on Saturday without hardly practicing.''

One area that must improve if the Vols are to be more offensive-minded next fall is the running game. It sputtered at times last fall. With four starters returning in the offensive line, along with the top two tailbacks -- Cedric Houston and Jabari Davis -- the ground game should be considerably better.

''Cedric had a good year for us,'' Sanders said. ''He obviously would've been much better had he not missed four or five weeks with thumb surgery. I hope Cedric will take the next step. We need for Cedric to take the next step.

''Jabari has tried to lose some weight. He looks good, seems to be moving well. We'll find out this spring how much he's developed and how much progress he's made.''

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