John Adams: Bold offense better than old offense

John Adams
Adam Brimer/News Sentinel
Tennessee tailback Tauren Poole runs the ball during practice Saturday at Haslam Field.

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

Adam Brimer/News Sentinel Tennessee tailback Tauren Poole runs the ball during practice Saturday at Haslam Field.

Tennessee running back Tauren Poole barely surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last season, but that had no influence on his blocking buddies. Shortly after the 2010 season ended, his offensive linemen identified Poole with another number.

And it wasn't the No. 28 on his jersey. They began talking about a 2,000-yard season for their senior running back.

"That's bold," Poole said with a smile at SEC Football Media Days last month.

It's not just bold. It's unheard of in the SEC.

Former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker of Georgia holds the SEC single-season rushing record of 1,891 yards (1981). Only two other SEC players have rushed for as many as 1,700 yards in a season.

So the mere suggestion of a 2,000-yard rushing season is — I'll put this as tactfully as possible — ridiculous. In fact, it's so absurd, why stop there? How about 5,000 yards passing for Tyler Bray? Or 120 catches for Justin Hunter

— and Da'Rick Rogers?

As silly as 2,000 yards might sound, the thinking behind it isn't. In fact, UT fans probably welcome it.

Setting your sights high is certainly more embraceable than the mediocre marks the Vols have been posting. This is no time for discouraging bold goals.

The team is a consensus pick to finish fourth in the SEC East. The defensive front seven doesn't rank that high. But the offense fosters fantasies — as well as fond memories.

Even in the 1990s when the Vols averaged almost 10 wins per season, the defense sometimes lagged behind the offense. When the defense caught up, UT won a national championship.

Those offenses came with few doubts attached. UT fans couldn't count on beating Florida or winning a championship, but they usually could rely on an offense that scored 40 or more points 38 times in the decade.

There's no such certainty about the 2011 offense. There's at least promise.

The offensive line returns intact and has been fortified by new arrivals, including freshman Marcus Jackson, a possible starter.

Poole and backup Rajion Neal are back. So are sophomore wide receivers Hunter and Rogers, who at least have shown the potential to be regarded as possible big-time players, as has sophomore quarterback Bray.

Much of UT's offensive potential is based on what the Vols did in four consecutive victories to end the 2010 regular season. They averaged 37.5 points per game against Memphis, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. That average is tempered somewhat in that it was achieved against teams who gave up an average of 33.8 points per game.

But in evaluating this offense, you also have to consider the experience gained since the 2010 opener. And you can't rule out the possibility that running back Marlin Lane and receivers Vincent Dallas and DeAnthony Arnett could have an impact as freshmen.

There just might be enough talent on hand for the Vols to field their best offense since 2007 — even if they don't have a 2,000-yard rusher.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns

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Comments » 19

Alwaysavol writes:

"...who at least have shown the potential to be regarded as possible big-time players..."

So, you're saying that there might, just maybe, somehow sort of be a slight bit of a chance that they will be almost kind of decent?

Sheesh, with a vote of confidence like that, how can they miss?

eb502us#225637 writes:

We're definitely young, but I could see us being the best offense in the SEC East. Only question is can the defense get off the field to allow the offense enough plays to rank that high.

abnerPeabody writes:

John, you will be bashed for the truth you have written.You must have the thickest skin of any human.You told the truth and I am going to say thank you.Keep telling the truth as you see it.You may not always be right,but, by thunders you are never wrong.Keep up the good work.The writer awards will continue if you do.I am 100% orange blooded season ticket holder.Sometimes the truth hurts but as long as it is an honest truth,keep telling it.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

For Adams, this was a fairly decent article, void of the usual pessimism. The young guys will make mistakes, to be expected......but their enthusiasm and hustle will make up for a lot of those.

pingkr62 writes:

I agree the offense will be much improved since the nucleus of the offense is still intact. I think a some what soft early season will be a big help. Time will tell. G.B.O.!

VolinCalif writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

We're definitely young, but I could see us being the best offense in the SEC East. Only question is can the defense get off the field to allow the offense enough plays to rank that high.

Now! Now! Now! I have been saying this for a week. Don't knock our defense!!! Yes they are young, they lack exp and dept, the Lb's are a little small by SEC standards. But they are very fast for big men and they will swarm the running plays. Just watch, you'll see soon enough. Those LB's are still big guys and they can make up for a couple of pounds ave. with strength and speed. Remember that F=M.V sq, when the RBs gets hit by those LB's, speed makes it a lot harder hit than bulk. That is one key to CW success at BSU. Eight maybe nine wins and a Bowlis is possible And they could win the SECE. I think the FL game will really make or break this team, they want it pretty bad and if they win, watch out SEC.

GO Vols

txvolsfan writes:

in response to Dead_Head_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ditto

ReverendOrange writes:

in response to Dead_Head_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I hate Bama more.

sambad writes:

in response to Dead_Head_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

DITTO.

AllforTenn writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

John, you will be bashed for the truth you have written.You must have the thickest skin of any human.You told the truth and I am going to say thank you.Keep telling the truth as you see it.You may not always be right,but, by thunders you are never wrong.Keep up the good work.The writer awards will continue if you do.I am 100% orange blooded season ticket holder.Sometimes the truth hurts but as long as it is an honest truth,keep telling it.

Is an "honest truth" better than just a truth? Redundant.

Volunatic writes:

This is the second article in less than a week in which John Adams attempts to give Vol fans hope for the upcoming season.
Is he up to something?

Theo writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm sure you do understand. Florida is like new money - tacky and fleeting.

VolGrad writes:

in response to ReverendOrange:

I hate Bama more.

... what he said.

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

I hate Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Ken_ucky, BOTH Carolinas, and Vandy. Also included are: CantstandSaban, Bodiene Bonehead, Witch Doctors illegitimate Pop, and all of the other trolls that don't have a life, can't get a girlfriend, or live on their own.

I hope I'm right by saying "wait until Saturdays in the Fall" and The Big Orange and TP pound the rock down your throat. And just when you expect another 20 or 30 yard run, TB throws to JH or DR for another GIVE HIM 6!!!!! Go Big Orange! I can't wait.

keviningeorgia writes:

I don't hate Florida. I just HATE obnoxious Florida fans...

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bodeane you are trolling at 1:47 am. We know you are obsessed with the Vols but shouldn't you try and get some sleep

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Actually Adams is right, he can't get 2000. Simply because UT will hopefully be pass oriented and there just isn't enough yards to go around. I'll take 1600 from Poole and 800 from Rajion any day!

Rockytop38 writes:

If Tauren can just pick up positive yards to keep the defense off balance to allow for Bray's passing we should be okay. GBO

woodwr#217203 writes:

in response to Dead_Head_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't we all?

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