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Does Tennessee Have the Horses for a No-Huddle Offense?

Feb 27, 2007 – 3:45 PM
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Andy Katzer

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There was a time when Tennessee's offense was known as a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust unit. Even with the likes of Heath Shuler and Peyton Manning at quarterback, Tennessee fans at any time felt nearly 90% sure that the next play would be an off-tackle run . There was also a time when Erik Ainge was known more for throwing away the ball at inopportune times (like with a LSU lineman draped around his neck like mardi gras beads) than for quality quarterback play. But apparently things are changing in Knoxville as the Vols are test-driving a no-huddle offense this spring.

Despite a rocky sophomore season, Ainge bounced back with a good junior year in which he set the UT record for completion percentage (67%). It's obvious that coaches Fulmer and Cutcliffe have enough faith in their senior QB to hand him the keys. There is, however, more to a no-huddle approach than just who's under center. The biggest problem with the no-huddle, according to lineman Darius Myles:
You get tired and stuff.

And stuff, indeed. Maybe I should point out that Myles is a freshman. If there's really going to be a problem with Tennessee's new offensive approach, it will be the inexperience of the wide receivers. It's one thing for the quarterback to be able to direct the no-huddle, it's another for the wide-outs to know where they're supposed to be. Tennesse lost their three leading recivers from 2006, and didn't get much production from the rest of their WRs. In fact, if you need to know just how much the Vols lost in the pass-catching department from last year's team, here's an example: Bret Smith, Tennessee's third-best receiver, caught 39 passes for 453 yards, while the entire returning returning receiving corps only caught 26 passes for 252 yards. It could be a long spring for UT.

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