Blog...Tennessee Pass Game Important
"We can beat them short, we can make them miss and we’re just as talented as they are," says Tennessee's Gerald Jones.
By: BE Coleman
Tennessee has something to show and prove on Saturday with Florida arriving for the SEC's biggest showdown. Unlike another SEC team in Auburn, that also has a new O-Coordinator in place has seen the Vols are able to score points.
The totals have not been impressive by Volunteer standards heading into week four of play. This week finds the unit hopes to get back some of its clout facing off with the Florida Gators.
While Florida is a 7 point favorite that is loaded with talent and Superman returning to Knoxville for a final time finds the Vols are prepping as usual with a measure of noted confidence.
The Vols strong suit has been the run game that was supposed to be set up off the West Coast passing game. The passing game has not been as strong with the complexity of adjusting to it fully with QB Jon Crompton in a rookie role.
Crompton is 38 out of 72 passing for 429 yards, has two touchdowns and three interceptions this season. His 52.77 passing percentage hasn't been up to par within the Vols rich pass tradition. This week he hopes to get it into better rhythm, a pledge he made Saturday.
In order to keep Florida from stacking the box to stop the triple threat of Arian Foster, Montario Hardesty and Lennon Creer finds the Vols have to get the ball out to the deep wide out package.
"It is a good problem to have," noted former QB Tee Martin this week of the three rushers, but also noted the importance of getting the passing game on a roll.
WR's Lucas Taylor, Gerald Jones and Josh Briscoe are all big time athletes that have to figure in heavily this week. Taylor had 132 yards receiving last week, made most of his total output after the catch, that was noted by Coach Phillip Fulmer Tuesday. Taylor leads the conference in receiving yards - playing only two games.
Jones scored twice last Saturday running routes for Crompton, who noted one of his scores was not intended to be his pass. Having a step on the coverage saw Crompton adjust to hit Jones for the score.
Whether Jones is running the ball, passing the ball or catching the ball, or is returning the ball is more than an added advantage for the offense as they prepare in advance for the visiting Gators.
Briscoe can run the go route for the deep pass as well as anyone in the conference. He is playing the silent but deadly role as the Vols find their groove and rhythm with Crompton.
Briscoe's confidence level is beaming and believes the best is yet to come by saying, "we feel like we're the best receiving unit in the conference, maybe the nation."
But the three are not all Tennessee has ready to go. Adding Austin Rogers, Denaruis Moore (DeMo) and Quinton Hancock give the Vols a two set six man rotation.
The Vols have to get the ball into the hands of these six playmakers first and foremost to have success against Florida. The Gators pass defense has only seen two games against lesser talent. The Vols know the Gators will play man coverage and have to make plays.
The Tennessee Tight Ends could play even bigger roles this week, Luke Stocker had a nightmare game last week against UAB. Stocker had three scores in his hands and was unable to corral the ball.
"He's an excellent pass catcher," noted Phillip Fulmer of Stocker. That is a sign Fulmer will keep going to him often.
Brandon Warren will be a target this week as will Fullback Kevin Cooper in the game plan. Warren is averaging 17.7 yards per catch may see time on the defense playing both ways to help give the starters a breather. These three players are people to watch as they are being used with a slight of hand.
Vols fans hope to see a whole lot of the G-Gun Package this week with Jones under center or perhaps in the shotgun formation. The former QB is expected to be an essential piece of the offense.
"I think we are going to use it a whole lot more," noted Jones this week.
Philip Fulmer noted on Tuesday that Jones understanding of a new play is outstanding. Jones stopped by the Coaches office earlier this week to find a new play on the board. Fulmer said that he told him to dissect the play.
Jones explained to the coaches correctly what the receivers set and the quarterback, tailback should do, that brought a smile to the seated staff.
While the team that rushes the ball the best has won 16 out of the last 18 games played, finds the need to help create running lanes with the pass regimen is a key element.
The Vols have had problems the last two seasons running the ball against Florida with a pass first game plan that was shut down last year. "If we can beat them deep, we can make them respect the pass, then they will take eight out of the box and then Arian (Foster) can run the ball," noted Jones.
Foster has been a cog in helping Tennessee to the top of the SEC's Total Offense category with the Vols are averaging 457 yards per game. The Gators are back at 6th with a 375 yard per game average in contrast.
"I think we can beat them deep," said Jones. "We can beat them short, we can make them miss and we’re just as talented as they are." Jones has shown in both games played that he is able to do just that. He and his team mates need to translate that one more time this week in a big way.
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