- Dave Hooker interviews offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe
- Dave Hooker interviews QB Erik Ainge
- Dave Hooker interviews RB coach Kurt Roper
Tennessee Stat Book
Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge said the G-Gun only needs to be pulled from its holster when absolutely necessary.
The G-Gun, as it's been dubbed by the media, is an offensive package in which freshman receiver Gerald Jones lines up at quarterback and the quarterback slides to receiver.
Ainge said the G-Gun should only be used when the Vols traditional offense is struggling.
"We have a lot of stuff like that," the senior said Tuesday as he previewed Saturday's game against Arkansas. "I don't see that being a big part of what we do while I'm in the game."
The G-Gun debuted last week when Ainge was on the sideline while backup quarterback Jonathan Crompton was handling mop-up duty in a 59-7 romp over Louisiana-Lafayette.
Ainge's reluctance might make some think he's not willing to line up at receiver, as Crompton did against the Ragin' Cajuns. Not so.
"I told Gerald yesterday, 'If they don't guard me, you better throw me the ball,' " Ainge said.
Putting Ainge in such a position certainly comes with risk, especially for a player who's had more than his fair share of injuries.
"That's between the DB and Erik," UT offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe said. "Let's see if he wants to take that on. Erik's a 6-6, 225-pound guy. He knows how to take care of himself. I'd be interested to see how that matchup went."
Said Ainge, "I played basketball in high school. I'll just post him up."
If the Vols run the G-Gun against Arkansas, much of that decision will be based on Jones, who led Millwood High School in Oklahoma City to a state title while playing quarterback.
"He has a take-charge mentality," Cutcliffe said of Jones. "He's comfortable there. A lot of guys aren't comfortable in that mode."
The package was certainly effective against Lafayette. Jones rushed for 20 yards on two carries, including a 12-yard touchdown. Ainge said surprise is key.
"He can get a big play if you spring it on somebody when they're not expecting it," Ainge said. "But I think we'll just keep doing what we've been doing."
Cutcliffe downplayed whatever time Arkansas might have to commit to stopping the G-Gun, as its defense has practiced against the "Wildhawg" - in which tailback Darren McFadden lines up at quarterback.
Cutcliffe also added that working on the attack would also affect UT's offensive practice itinerary, as well as its opponent's.
Scouting Report: Arkansas' defense is first in the SEC in pass efficiency defense (91.5).
"They play a ton of man coverage," Cutcliffe said. "They play a lot of press coverage. They bring pressure a lot."
Ainge, who's passer rating is 133.2, described Arkansas as basic in their defensive approach. But the Razorbacks' talent is far from ordinary.
"Even when they bring four, they can still put pressure on the quarterback because their D-line's good," Ainge said. "… They force you to really be sharp and execute over and over again."
It's rare that an offensive player cites an opposing offensive player, but Ainge did so during UT's media day, saying McFadden is a prime reason why UT's offense will have to control time of possession.
"You can't just let him run around and waste all the clock," Ainge said.
As for Arkansas' defense, running backs coach Kurt Roper said, "They play as hard as any group we've watched on tape this year."
No Hard Feelings: Roper said he doesn't see any difference in tailback Montario Hardesty now that he's been a more significant part of the offense as of late.
"Regardless of the situation, he comes to work with the right mindset," Roper said. "It's hard for me to tell a difference between Montario any day of the week."
Hardesty ran nine times for 45 yards last week against Lafayette. He was oddly absent during UT's 41-17 loss to Alabama. Since then, he has averaged 5.7 yards a carry against Lafayette and South Carolina. Hardesty rushed twice for 18 yards against the Gamecocks.
Cut Cut: Cutcliffe bristled a bit when asked why Ainge's performance fell off against Laffayette.
"I didn't think Erik struggled," Cutcliffe said, as he turned to the reporter who posed the question. "I don't know if you watched the same game I saw, but I thought Erik played extremely well. He did what we asked him to do."
Ainge was 15-of-23 for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Ragin' Cajuns.
Injury Report: Cutcliffe said sophomore receiver Austin Rogers (shoulder) will be limited for practice this week. He is expected to play Saturday.