Former Tennessee wide receiver Josh Briscoe vividly remembers his position coach telling him how much better the Dave Clawson offense would be in its second year.
Briscoe was not encouraged. He knew two years would be too long.
"We were in a meeting room with our receivers coach (Latrell Scott)," Briscoe said in an interview on The Sports Page, the News Sentinel radio show, Friday morning. "He started showing us film of Richmond (where Clawson was the head coach) the first year and then showing us film of Richmond a couple of years after Coach Clawson had been there.
"'If you give this offense time, it will be successful,' he told us. That was the thing that got my attention."
Briscoe, who was a senior receiver last year, thought at the time: "Coach, we don't have that time. We're struggling right now."
The struggle with Clawson's new offense began in the spring and continued through a 5-7 season that cost coach Phillip Fulmer and his staff their jobs. The Vols ranked 115th out of 119 Division I-A teams in total offense.
Briscoe said players had to think too much on the field; that younger receivers were given more opportunities at the expense of proven, veteran receivers; and that Clawson's philosophy of flip-flopping offensive linemen from one side to the other never worked.
But nothing bothered Briscoe more than the idea that the offense was on a two-year timetable.
"Hearing that from (Scott) was really upsetting," he said. "Putting an offense in at this level, you can't have a year for it to take effect - not at this level, especially not at Tennessee. We expect to be able to win every week.
"That offense wasn't putting us there. That offense held us back a lot."
Briscoe was asked if he approached Fulmer about the problems with the new offense.
"I talked to Coach Fulmer," he said. "Older guys (at receiver) were looked over because we didn't have as much time to play under (Clawson).
"Coach Fulmer is a very loyal guy. He believed in Coach Clawson. He believed that he was gonna be given a second chance, that the system would be given a second chance. It's unfortunate that things didn't turn out that way."
Briscoe said Fulmer's faith in Clawson carried over to the team, even though the offense was floundering.
"Because Coach Fulmer believed in Coach Clawson, that gave us more hope. We thought, 'Coach Fulmer believes in this guy, so let's keep fighting for this guy. Coach Fulmer is not giving up, so we won't give up.'
"We had the attitude to just play hard and finish hard as best as we could. For the most part, we did that - except for Wyoming."
Briscoe contrasted last season with the 2007 season under former offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, who helped lead UT to the SEC East championship.
"Coach Cutcliffe did a great job of finding what our identity was and using that talent," Briscoe said. "We didn't have a lot of (receivers) who could go deep. But we had guys who could get separation and run great routes. This year with a new offense, we never really found that identity with a new coordinator coming into the program.
"(Clawson) didn't really know these guys. He didn't know their talents. We were trying to do a lot of things we really shouldn't have been doing offensively. We never really found our identity, never really found something that we knew if we did it, we were going to get positive yards."
Briscoe said he complained to Fulmer that the veteran receivers were getting fewer opportunities.
"They started to focus more on the younger guys," Briscoe said. "(Lucas Taylor's) reps were cut in half. That's uncalled for. Austin (Rogers) and I ... Our reps were cut in half. That's uncalled for ... because you want to play the younger guys for the future. It's not right."
Taylor had 73 catches while Rogers and Briscoe each had 56 in 2007 when Cutcliffe was the coordinator and senior Erik Ainge was the quarterback. In 2008, Gerald Jones led UT with 30 receptions. Taylor had 26; Briscoe and Rogers had 14 apiece.
Not only did UT have a new offense, it had a new quarterback in Jonathan Crompton. When he faltered, the Vols turned to Nick Stephens before going back to Crompton.
Briscoe was asked about the problems the system posed for a new quarterback.
"It's a difficult scheme to learn in a year," he said. "There's a lot of pre-snap reads based on safeties and corners. It was too much thinking going on instead of just playing ball.
"We had to do a lot more thinking as a whole. We weren't able to go out and just play as much."
Briscoe said the offensive linemen were as uncomfortable as anyone in Clawson's system.
“He came in and started flipping linemen around. It was difficult to understand why we would flip linemen like that.” When a linemen is at right tackle and has to put his left hand down to pass block and then he has to switch over to left tackle, it’s completely two different things. It’s two different movements.”
Briscoe said he’s still upset about how the season went, but that he and his teammates realized they had to move on. He said he has heard good things from his former teammates about coach Lane Kiffin’s new staff.
“I haven’t talked to the guys too much about Coach Kiffin,” he said. “They have said some great things about coach (Ed) Orgeron and (defensive coordinator) Monte Kiffin, and some of the other position coaches — the energy they have and the ability to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning for morning runs.”
He is training to prepare himself for NFL tryouts. And Clawson is starting over as the coach at Bowling Green.
Briscoe was asked if he was surprised that after the way the offense performed, Clawson got a better job.
“I don’t think ‘surprised’ is the word,” he said. “He must be a great interviewer.”