Adams: Spring ahead to forget bad memories

A fumbled exchange between a quarterback and center shouldn't evoke so much as a shrug in your average spring football practice. Neither should an incomplete pass, even if it does clear the receiver's head by 10 yards.

It's spring. An offense can turn the ball over without turning over its coaching staff. One awful pass doesn't leave a program teetering on the abyss.

But in Tennessee's case, those mishaps do the next worst thing. They bring back memories.

When I saw a center snap go awry in a practice last week, I also saw quarterback Jonathan Crompton and Arian Foster fail to complete a handoff on the goal line at Jordan-Hare Stadium last October. When one ball flew past the field of play, I saw all those others that landed hither there and yon at the Rose Bowl last September.

The connection is unavoidable. The departure of offensive coordinator Dave Clawson doesn't change that. Nor does the arrival of coach Lane Kiffin and staff.

The offense still has baggage. And one mistake leads to the memory of another one.

But, because of last season's ineptitude, more than miscues are magnified. So is proficiency.

Kiffin praised quarterback Jonathan Crompton for his decision-making and ball security after Saturday's practice at Haslam Field. That's worthy of applause from UT fans, who learned through the trials of last season not to take the basics for granted.

If you're looking for more reasons to be optimistic about UT's offense, I recommend comparison shopping. Half the programs in the SEC would suffice.

UT was one of six SEC teams that ranked in the bottom 25 in total offense last season. Three of those offenses - at UT, Auburn and Mississippi State - got their coaches fired.

The three new coaches will have to deal with some of the same old problems, the most glaring of which are at quarterback.

Like UT, Auburn has three candidates for the starting quarterback job. Mississippi State has a Tyson (Lee) and a Tyler (Russell). Lee is a better fit for coach Dan Mullen's offense than he was for Sylvester Croom's West Coast offense, but he's still only 5-foot-11. Russell is 6-4, but he's a true freshman.

Florida has Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow at quarterback. Ole Miss has Jevan Snead. No one else in the conference has a quarterback who has demonstrated a full season's worth of competence.

Maybe Stephen Garcia will get his act together at South Carolina. Maybe Jordan Jefferson will pick up where he left off in the second half of his freshman season at LSU. Maybe Star Jackson will play up to his name at Alabama. But they're still "maybes."

Georgia, Arkansas and Vanderbilt will have to break in new quarterbacks. Kentucky will have to hope that Mike Hartline progresses - a lot.

Questionable quarterbacking is compounded in a conference famous for defense. Moreover, the league has lost three of its best running backs (Knowshon Moreno, Percy Harvin, and Glen Coffee) and a handful of offensive linemen coveted by the NFL.

Thanks, in part, to that attrition, running back is a position where UT could gain ground. Although it doesn't have an obvious All-SEC candidate, it has depth.

Montario Hardesty and Lennon Creer have experience. Taurean Poole has been as impressive as anyone in practice. Tony Williams, a January enrollee, has run hard. And Bryce Brown, the nation's top-rated high school running back, could have an impact this fall.

The new offense should serve them well. Kiffin is committed to building a more physical offense; the practices reflect that.

So it's significant that when Kiffin is asked to specify encouraging signs about his offense after two weeks of practice, he singles out the offensive line.

"The o-line is run blocking really well," he said. "We've got to get better pass blocking. But I think they're run blocking extremely well against a good d-line."

You had to remember last season to fully appreciate the compliment.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 21

hoosier_vol_fan writes:

first

EZVOL writes:

Thanks John for reminding of us once again of last year's disappointments. I thought the earlier news of how well the spring practice was progressing had wiped it away. Oh well, hopefully this time on September 5, none of us will remember anything about last season. Go VOLS!

DroopyDrawers writes:

in response to DetroitVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I would love 9 or 10 but will be happy with 8 for the 1st year of CLK.

DroopyDrawers writes:

in response to hoosier_vol_fan:

first

Adams rides again. Mr. Negative himself. I forgot Adams is a LSU & Bama fan.

MrBamSeydu writes:

Hey OrangeHammer, what's wrong with D.G.'s bottom row?

Lean_and_Hungry writes:

how many years of success will kiffin need to re-enter discussions whenever an NFL vacancy develops?

Voluvr writes:

Mr. Adams, the only bad memory is this negative article reminding me of your last one.

How do you come up this junk in a sea of good positive change from a completely different staff?

Voluvr writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That question is based on the premise that an NFL job is the pinnacle of coaching. Perhaps at one time, but that's not the case anymore.

When he wins titles and championships at Tennessee, why not ride it out. History has proven over and over that the grass isn't greener.

elsinoresam writes:

What is wrong John? No spring practice report from Baton Rouge? No articles on how wonderful Les Smiles is? No in-depth analysis on LSU's quarterback situation?
Man you are slipping!
Or are you saving that phooey for August?

teampenny#658108 writes:

Like running backs you can not have enough. Most leave if they do not work out, if they have somewhere to go or if they really want to play. Not a bad article for Adams.. It looks like to me Ol Miss & Fla in SEC championship. Neither have glaring weaknesses. Go Vols

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to TCHDWN10C:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Have a fritter!

Slystone writes:

Let's get the first win and work from there!

douglasawilliams#582863 writes:

8-4 would be viewed by most as a successful season when last year is taken into account. If you throw-in a bowl win and a top 25 finish icing on the cake. Anything above 8 wins during the regular season and there may be a tickter thier tape parade in downtown Knoxville. 2010 we lose 4 starting offensive linemen. No wonder they moved A. Douglas to offensive tackle we will be razor thin after this season on the O-line.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to Lean_and_Hungry:

how many years of success will kiffin need to re-enter discussions whenever an NFL vacancy develops?

two good seasons and that iron will get very hot. With having been there before he will be a hot commodity for the NFL provided he has winning seasons.. Be advised, he is not a long termer at UT.

TommyJack writes:

in response to TCHDWN10C:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bring back Gen. Melons.

GahLee writes:

Wow...what a negative article, what does he think he is doing, being the yin to the yang? Trying to keep Vol fans grounded, let us not have too high of hopes here, that way when we fall it won't hurt so bad? C'mon man, get with it, write something that people want to read, something current and relevant, not dwelling on the mishaps of last years team.
And who really cares what other teams are having to go through at the QB position? Start contributing to the new regime, or just go to Gatorville and continue your infatuation with THAT program.

txvolsfan writes:

in response to Lean_and_Hungry:

how many years of success will kiffin need to re-enter discussions whenever an NFL vacancy develops?

Let's just worry about success, I hope we are wondering when an NFL team will come calling!!!

Bigger_Al writes:

UT fans will never be able to forget the bad memories. We have Tuscaloosa John Adams to remind us.

DenmarkVol, did you ever send your resume for Sports Editor to the KNS?

TheVolMan writes:

DroopyDrawers VolFan4Life Voluvr: wow, blaming JA for negativity? This wasn't a negative article unless you're a Fulmerite who is still is stewing that Adams was right when he called for Phil to be fired or for him to step down.

Reading comprehension -- try it.

Halls3 writes:

in response to TheVolMan:

DroopyDrawers VolFan4Life Voluvr: wow, blaming JA for negativity? This wasn't a negative article unless you're a Fulmerite who is still is stewing that Adams was right when he called for Phil to be fired or for him to step down.

Reading comprehension -- try it.

You are absolutely right Volman. Of course for some reason many people on this board have it in for John Adams, yet they continue to read his stuff. I wonder how many actually truly read the article before they negatively comment on it. Oh and all it is for those who passed reading comprehension in school is that as bad as those mistakes in practice are & how they resemble last year's team, Vol fans have a future, whether good or bad, to look forward too.

BigOrangeCrush10 writes:

I hate to be reminded but the man is right. We couldn't even count on the basics last season, just thinking about it drives a man to drink! I mean honestly has anyone ever seen so many passes blocked by D-linemen in one season, its no wonder he couldn't hit a reciever he was just as happy to get it past the big boys up front! Uhhggg I hate to even think about it. Well here's to drinking to forget!!!

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