Vols sticking with wildcat — the play and the name

Vols to keep working on formation

Marlin Lane on running the wildcat formation

First, Tennessee had to make sure it could consistently put a snap on target.

Second, it needed to find the right player to operate the attack, preferably someone with previous experience.

Then the Vols obviously had to work on the timing of the play and fine-tune the details before using it in a game.

But now that all hard stuff is out of the way heading into a trip to No. 8 Arkansas on Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 6 p.m.), the Vols might just have a second or two to think about a different name for their version of the wildcat package.

"We call it the wildcat; we don't have any different names for it yet," running back Marlin Lane said. "It's all up to the head coach and the offensive coordinator. I don't know what they're going to call it.

"It doesn't matter. As long as I'm out there running it, I'm cool with it."

Lane has emerged as the triggerman for the single-wing approach for the Vols (4-5, 0-5 SEC), leaning on his two years running it in high school as well as a season at quarterback to help give coach Derek Dooley a viable reason to install the wildcat.

Even as recently as two weeks ago, Dooley had dismissed the package as a fix for the ongoing problems with the running game, and he certainly didn't seem interested in giving it a school-specific moniker after debuting it in last week's shutout win over Middle Tennessee State. But after finding a bit of consistency with Alex Bullard delivering snaps and settling on Lane to receive them, there were signs of progress on the ground in the wildcat — and it figures to be part of the game plan again as UT takes on the Razorbacks (8-1, 4-1).

"It was a good start, and we'll keep playing with it," Dooley said. "It's not going to solve our problems. I've always liked it, but I haven't run it here just because I haven't had a comfort level of the right guy running it.

"The scheme isn't hard, it's the timing. It's a shotgun snap, and then a lot of times you're doing it off fly-sweep motion, so you have to time everything up. Then you've got a guy doing it that it's not what he does. It's not complex, but it's like anything, it takes practice."

And for a relatively simply play, those reps are critical at a number of positions — not just for Lane.

Bullard in particular has to be sharp with his snapping, which is important on any play in the shotgun but perhaps even more so in the wildcat with the moving parts. And in some ways, the always-critical communication between the linemen around him also becomes a bit more crucial with Bullard's head down as he fires the ball to Lane.

"I have to rely on the other guys to tell me if the defense is moving around or anything like that," Bullard said. "That's the biggest thing, as the center, you're snapping the ball out of shotgun and you have to make sure on the wildcat that the snap has to be dead-on them every time or it's going to throw off the process of the play."

The rest of it was pretty straightforward for Lane last week, with UT doing little more than putting the ball in his hands and letting him make something happen. That decision paid off a couple times, with Lane keeping once for a 7-yard gain and again to convert a third-and-2 later in the easy win. The Vols figure to add more wrinkles on top of that as they get more comfortable with the wildcat. But for now, that might be all they tweak about it.

"We got some positive yards out of it," Dooley said. "But when we get good at it, maybe then we'll name it."

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 66

SpiralBound writes:

It should be dubbed the "Fast Lane"....

MTSUVOL writes:

Call it the Volcat!!!!!!!!!!!

VOL2014 writes:

Marsalis Teague was a great high school quarterback and recruited as an athlete out of high school. I know he has been disappointing as a CB this year but he could be great with a run/pass option in the wildcat.

flatrock writes:

in response to VOL2014:

Marsalis Teague was a great high school quarterback and recruited as an athlete out of high school. I know he has been disappointing as a CB this year but he could be great with a run/pass option in the wildcat.

Marsalis could have been helped by a pass rush...

jobrando#216494 writes:

single wing.....after young delivers jump pass right. I think Majors is on the field

Orange_Pants_Buy_One_Get_One_Free writes:

"The Wild Fooley"

Guaranteed to make you laugh!

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to Orange_Pants_Buy_One_Get_One_Free:

"The Wild Fooley"

Guaranteed to make you laugh!

You're a joke. You make me laugh

PennVol writes:

We'll probably call it 2nd and 12.

iowavol writes:

in response to MTSUVOL:

Call it the Volcat!!!!!!!!!!!

Call it the Blue Tic Hound or Wild Hound. We aint a dang cat.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

Call it the "only way we can get positive yards running cat".

Madkels writes:

Won't make a difference against the Hogs. Chalk up another whoopin.

rockytn2jc writes:

OMG!!!......Lets tell our opponent what we've been working on all week, that way they can prepare for it...... SMH!!!

CrankE writes:

Yawn. Haven't we heard this story before? The "excitement" over the "G-Gun", a play that seemed to have the muzzle pointed at UT every time? And say, wasn't that play a desperation attempt to generate some positive running yards in a situation where UT couldn't do this through their base offense?

Workin' like heck at The Hecktagon!

But I'm sure it will work out as soon as it has a catchy nickname. How about "Bamboo"? After all, you just keep watering it and all of the sudden it'll shoot up like crazy. And once we have a big tall bamboo forest out there at Neyland Stadium, the defenders won't be able to FIND the runners, much less tackle them. Maybe "Bamboozled"?

Tennfan4075 writes:

in response to Orange_Pants_Buy_One_Get_One_Free:

"The Wild Fooley"

Guaranteed to make you laugh!

Love the name. Not necessarily the play name your name. Orange_Pants_Buy_One_Get_One_Free:

Tennfan4075 writes:

The wild whatever is usually used to take advantage of an outstanding players skills and I am not sure the Vols have a player fitting this description. Or as I am afraid the case my be, this type of play is used in desperation. Which ever the play will need run blocking and this is a skill which as been lacking all year. How will the offensive line suddenly become proficient blockers? Run blocking requires some speed and agility while pass blocking (of which the Vols have been relatively good at) can sometimes be achieved with big bodies just getting in the way of the defenseive rush.

UKblue02 writes:

We call it the play before the punt......LOL

DooleysOrangePants writes:

in response to UKblue02:

We call it the play before the punt......LOL

thats funny.

DooleysOrangePants writes:

go ahead and shelf it now. we dont have darren mcfadden back there running it and it wont work consistently without a top notch back or threat of a pass.

MemphisHog writes:

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Wildcat was born in Fayetteville, the brainchild of then-OC Gus Malzahn as a way to get Darren McFadden and Felix Jones on the field together and involved in the same play. First game that it really took off was against UT in '06. Now everybody uses it, including the pros.

Volunatic writes:

in response to MemphisHog:

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Wildcat was born in Fayetteville, the brainchild of then-OC Gus Malzahn as a way to get Darren McFadden and Felix Jones on the field together and involved in the same play. First game that it really took off was against UT in '06. Now everybody uses it, including the pros.

I saw Michael Bishop at K-State run the Wildcat several years before McFadden and Jones. I will admit that McFadden and Jones were an impressive combination with it, though.

NickDanger-ThirdEye writes:

in response to Volunatic:

I saw Michael Bishop at K-State run the Wildcat several years before McFadden and Jones. I will admit that McFadden and Jones were an impressive combination with it, though.

it used to be called the single-wing.
More recently and more famously, Kordell Stewart aka Slash, ran it for Colorado and then the Steelers in the 90's.

MemphisHog writes:

in response to Volunatic:

I saw Michael Bishop at K-State run the Wildcat several years before McFadden and Jones. I will admit that McFadden and Jones were an impressive combination with it, though.

Michael Bishop and Kordell Stewart were quarterbacks running plays out of shotgun. McFadden was a running back and the direct snap to him, with option to hand off to Jones or keep it himself, was the first time (since the single wing, which had not been used in at least 50 years) it was installed as an alternative offensive package. Bishop and Stewart were great running QBs, but they were simply running plays out of shotgun. That's the difference.

orangesherbert writes:

Devrin Young should get a shot at running it.He's quick and elusive and we can't seem to get him the ball any other way.

GONAVY writes:

This reminds me of the 2008 season.

tulelakevol writes:

in response to UKblue02:

We call it the play before the punt......LOL

Good One blue!

Volunatic writes:

in response to MemphisHog:

Michael Bishop and Kordell Stewart were quarterbacks running plays out of shotgun. McFadden was a running back and the direct snap to him, with option to hand off to Jones or keep it himself, was the first time (since the single wing, which had not been used in at least 50 years) it was installed as an alternative offensive package. Bishop and Stewart were great running QBs, but they were simply running plays out of shotgun. That's the difference.

I recall that the Arkansas variation was generally called the "Wild Hog", for obvious reasons. The name "Wildcat" goes back further than that. I know that Snyder called it the "Wildcat" formation-- I assumed that was because that was the name of the K-State team. I'm not sure if that's the case, or if the formation was so named prior to its utilization by Snyder.

UKblue02 writes:

in response to tulelakevol:

Good One blue!

Yeah tlv, but it hurts too much to laugh....

MemphisHog writes:

in response to Volunatic:

I recall that the Arkansas variation was generally called the "Wild Hog", for obvious reasons. The name "Wildcat" goes back further than that. I know that Snyder called it the "Wildcat" formation-- I assumed that was because that was the name of the K-State team. I'm not sure if that's the case, or if the formation was so named prior to its utilization by Snyder.

We'll get to the bottom of this somehow. The first year the Hogs used it ('06), they called it the Wildcat - which leads me to believe that Malzahn was borrowing heavily from what Snyder had done with Michael Bishop at K-State. The next year, '07 when McFadden and Jones were juniors, they added some wrinkles to the package and re-named it the Wild Hog.

Malzahn never claimed he invented the scheme; in fact he said he came up with it after looking at lots of similar things that had been done in the past by other teams. But the fact remains that the '06 Hogs was the first team in recent memory to utilize the direct snap to a running back who then had options with what he could do with it. You may recall that McFadden threw a TD pass against the Vols in '06 out of the Wildcat. He went on to throw 5 or 6 more TD passses out of it but the one against the Vols was his first pass out of it.

One last thing....no way Nutt would have ever been smart enough to come up with something like that. Without Malzahn, those two seasons would have been huges wastes of talent.

gary_gudmundson#304948 writes:

in response to MTSUVOL:

Call it the Volcat!!!!!!!!!!!

Like the name Volcat!!!

gary_gudmundson#304948 writes:

in response to 10seVol85:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I like the name Wild Smokey too!!!

Or maybe "WildDog" because WildCat seems better reserved for the Kittens @ Kentucky, LSU, or Auburn,

Down_The_Field writes:

dang, if we're gonna do it, go all out. go unballanced and do the triple spin. let marlin punt out of it too.

now that majors is back in with the program, get him back on the field as "single wing" consultant.

speaking of majors. like him or not, he hates peebody and I LIKE THAT IN A MAN.

murrayvol writes:

in response to flatrock:

Marsalis could have been helped by a pass rush...

Would help more if he were a step quicker.

DiegoVol writes:

in response to Volunatic:

I recall that the Arkansas variation was generally called the "Wild Hog", for obvious reasons. The name "Wildcat" goes back further than that. I know that Snyder called it the "Wildcat" formation-- I assumed that was because that was the name of the K-State team. I'm not sure if that's the case, or if the formation was so named prior to its utilization by Snyder.

You are correct, Wildcat has been around well before Arkansas. Malzahn was and is a spread Guru. He has been using it since being a headcoach in highschool. Reggie Bush played out of a wildcat formation in HS. Not very often but I watched him in a few games do it. Bush and Alex Smith were teammates in HS. I watched a few of their games together.

murrayvol writes:

in response to UKblue02:

We call it the play before the punt......LOL

Hilarious!

thevoice writes:

The "Lane Train."

murrayvol writes:

in response to MemphisHog:

We'll get to the bottom of this somehow. The first year the Hogs used it ('06), they called it the Wildcat - which leads me to believe that Malzahn was borrowing heavily from what Snyder had done with Michael Bishop at K-State. The next year, '07 when McFadden and Jones were juniors, they added some wrinkles to the package and re-named it the Wild Hog.

Malzahn never claimed he invented the scheme; in fact he said he came up with it after looking at lots of similar things that had been done in the past by other teams. But the fact remains that the '06 Hogs was the first team in recent memory to utilize the direct snap to a running back who then had options with what he could do with it. You may recall that McFadden threw a TD pass against the Vols in '06 out of the Wildcat. He went on to throw 5 or 6 more TD passses out of it but the one against the Vols was his first pass out of it.

One last thing....no way Nutt would have ever been smart enough to come up with something like that. Without Malzahn, those two seasons would have been huges wastes of talent.

Good news for all Hog fans. Nutt's available at season's end.....just in case Petrino gets itchy feet again.:{)

murrayvol writes:

in response to thevoice:

The "Lane Train."

don't think so.

Vol86 writes:

in response to thevoice:

The "Lane Train."

no

MemphisHog writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Good news for all Hog fans. Nutt's available at season's end.....just in case Petrino gets itchy feet again.:{)

I'm pretty sure in the UA vs. Nutt divorce papers there was a "no reconciliation" clause. That train done left the station...

And please don't mention Petrino and itchy feet. Just the thought of him leaving is enough to make a Hog fan cry.

Volunatic writes:

in response to MemphisHog:

We'll get to the bottom of this somehow. The first year the Hogs used it ('06), they called it the Wildcat - which leads me to believe that Malzahn was borrowing heavily from what Snyder had done with Michael Bishop at K-State. The next year, '07 when McFadden and Jones were juniors, they added some wrinkles to the package and re-named it the Wild Hog.

Malzahn never claimed he invented the scheme; in fact he said he came up with it after looking at lots of similar things that had been done in the past by other teams. But the fact remains that the '06 Hogs was the first team in recent memory to utilize the direct snap to a running back who then had options with what he could do with it. You may recall that McFadden threw a TD pass against the Vols in '06 out of the Wildcat. He went on to throw 5 or 6 more TD passses out of it but the one against the Vols was his first pass out of it.

One last thing....no way Nutt would have ever been smart enough to come up with something like that. Without Malzahn, those two seasons would have been huges wastes of talent.

I remember that '06 game against Arkansas ALL too well.
I also remember the '07 game, in a much more positive light. I can't figure out why Peyton Hillis got the carry on 4th and short. I know Hillis is (and was) a great FB, but when the money's on the line, give it to the money man (D-Mac).

buzz29 writes:

It's a Vol taking the snap, and he wants to Go forward and gain yards. Call it the GoVol.

murrayvol writes:

in response to MemphisHog:

I'm pretty sure in the UA vs. Nutt divorce papers there was a "no reconciliation" clause. That train done left the station...

And please don't mention Petrino and itchy feet. Just the thought of him leaving is enough to make a Hog fan cry.

He's a good coach. If Bobby ever lands a Kirby Smart clone to handle DC duties, Arkie could be a force.

MemphisHog writes:

in response to Volunatic:

I remember that '06 game against Arkansas ALL too well.
I also remember the '07 game, in a much more positive light. I can't figure out why Peyton Hillis got the carry on 4th and short. I know Hillis is (and was) a great FB, but when the money's on the line, give it to the money man (D-Mac).

Dang, I was hoping nobody would mention the '07 game, or what some of my Vols friends call "the game that saved Fulmer for a year." Hogs laid a huge egg that day. If memory serves Eric Berry had a pick-6. At least I think it was him. Somebody in an orange uniform brought one back to the endzone right in front of where I was sitting.

Nutt had McFadden, Jones & Hillis, plus some offensive linemen that are playing in the pros now, all on that '07 team. And he never made a BCS game with them. What a joke of a coach he was.

MemphisHog writes:

in response to murrayvol:

He's a good coach. If Bobby ever lands a Kirby Smart clone to handle DC duties, Arkie could be a force.

We can't figure out why he's so loyal to Willy Robinson (current DC). Willy is overmatched against good offenses and sometimes against bad ones. Maybe Bobby doesn't want his offensive "genius" to be matched or overshadowed by a great defensive coordinator. Hope that's not the case...

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

The Wildcat formation may actually work if Chaney got a little more creative with his very "vanilla" play-calling..When Lane is under center, the only play Chaney calls is him running up the middle..The problem is that the opponent knows exactly what Lane is gonna do..A play in the Wildcat formation that,IMO, would be a good one to call is actually Lane dropping back and actually throwing a pass whether it be the QB that is lined up in the WR posiiton or to a WR or even to a TE..Put the passing threat in there to throw your opponent off guard..Mix it up to keep them guessing because it may actually work..We are predictable enough as it is, which is why I think Chaney needs to be released at the end of the season...Bray has made Chaney looked better than he actually is.

Smokey says he wouldn't mind seeing a 5-WR formation either..There are plenty of WR's on that sideline to incorporate that formation..

volsfanstuckinbama writes:

in response to ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog:

The Wildcat formation may actually work if Chaney got a little more creative with his very "vanilla" play-calling..When Lane is under center, the only play Chaney calls is him running up the middle..The problem is that the opponent knows exactly what Lane is gonna do..A play in the Wildcat formation that,IMO, would be a good one to call is actually Lane dropping back and actually throwing a pass whether it be the QB that is lined up in the WR posiiton or to a WR or even to a TE..Put the passing threat in there to throw your opponent off guard..Mix it up to keep them guessing because it may actually work..We are predictable enough as it is, which is why I think Chaney needs to be released at the end of the season...Bray has made Chaney looked better than he actually is.

Smokey says he wouldn't mind seeing a 5-WR formation either..There are plenty of WR's on that sideline to incorporate that formation..

I totally agree that Chaney needs to mix it up more. His idea of improving the running game is run the same play over and over thinking that it has got to eventually work. News flash Chaney we don't have the tallent this year to just line up and run straight up the middle, especially when they know it is coming b/c its all we do. How bout a wrinkle or three!!!!!

murrayvol writes:

in response to MemphisHog:

We can't figure out why he's so loyal to Willy Robinson (current DC). Willy is overmatched against good offenses and sometimes against bad ones. Maybe Bobby doesn't want his offensive "genius" to be matched or overshadowed by a great defensive coordinator. Hope that's not the case...

Mark Richt was loyal to Willie Martinez too but he got over it.

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Mark Richt was loyal to Willie Martinez too but he got over it.

I was thinking the same thing but you beat me on the draw.

fshnhol writes:

in response to orangesherbert:

Devrin Young should get a shot at running it.He's quick and elusive and we can't seem to get him the ball any other way.

Couldnt agree with you more!!

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to UKblue02:

We call it the play before the punt......LOL

At least you haven't lost your sense of humor.

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