Receiver Gerald Jones thinks it’s time for Tennessee’s passing offense to break out.
“I think this game is going to be a confidence game — try to raise our confidence level when it comes to passing the ball,” the junior said of Saturday’s game against Ohio.
That would be a welcome sight for fans, players and coaches. Since airing it out against Western Kentucky, the Vols have kept it on the ground against more stout defenses, subsequently losing to UCLA and Florida.
“This week I think we’re going to really focus on passing the ball and try to get confidence with the quarterback and the receivers and just trusting each other to be in the right spot,” Jones said. “If we can do that, especially for these next two weeks, it will be very dangerous for the rest of the season.”
The Vols face Auburn and Georgia after hosting Ohio. Quarterback Jonathan Crompton said UT can’t blindly pledge to throw the ball more.
“I’d like to be throwing it around, but at the same time if I’m throwing it 50 times a game, that means they’re just dropping back in coverage and we’re not setting up the run game to establish play action,” the senior said. “As a quarterback ... one of your best friends is a good run game.”
The Vols aren’t just hoping for more passes; they’re hoping for more downfield passes. Jones said he has noticed defensive backs jumping short routes.
“You see once we come out of our breaks, they’re breaking on it automatically,” Jones said.
The key retort is a double-move route.
“If we can start getting teams to bite on those comebacks and then take it up, they’ll start respecting the deep ball,” Jones said.
Said Crompton: “When we get opportunities, we’ll take them. So far we haven’t had a great opportunity to do it. But when we get them we’ll take the shots and hopefully execute them.
“(But) if they’re going to give us the short stuff, then we’ll just keep taking it and move the ball.”
Jones said some players allow their technique on deep passes to slip when a crowd is on hand.
“We do it all the time in practice against our defense and (our) defense is pretty dang good,” Jones said. “It’s just a matter of staying focused.”