March 13, 2008

Clawson, Vols progressing in drills

A couple days' stubble lining his face and a whistle around his neck, Dave Clawson looked to be settling in comfortably as Tennessee's offensive coordinator Thursday when the Vols concluded their opening week of spring drills.

"There's no shortage of energy and enthusiasm out there," UT coach Phillip Fulmer said. "There's great communication. The players have listened and learned. There's a lot of little things within this offense that are very important, and I saw us from the first day to the second day get better at those things. We're taking care of the football reasonably well. Regardless of the offense you're in, that's important.

"And we talked about with our defense today the importance of takeaways and our winning edge, so it was a good start for us."

It was a more efficient performance that Clawson watched over at the second of UT's two practices before it departed for spring break. The Vols resume work with their first full day in pads March 25.

"It's just a couple of plays every practice. Like the first practice, there were a couple of mistakes we made, and today we repeated the plays and they got it right," Clawson said. "Those are the things that are real encouraging. They made a mistake, we corrected it, they learned from it and now it's better. When that happens, you feel you can put the next step of the installation in."

Tennessee continued to implement Clawson's system with fundamental work and acclimate to its revamped coaching staff, which also added offensive assistants Latrell Scott, Jason Michael and Stan Drayton.

"I don't think you can do many good things in football if you don't have a good fundamental base," Clawson said. "Whether it's a quarterback taking a drop or the tailback steps on a certain play, unless those things are done the right way, they're probably not going to be very successful.

"So again, we threw a lot at them, and I think they were thinking so much that the fundamentals were not where they should be. We kind of just backed it up and got things corrected before we move ahead."

Praise by Fulmer for his preparation, Jonathan Crompton thinks Tennessee got off to a strong start for its spring practice.

"It's been fun. A little, I wouldn't say slow because it hasn't been slow, but we've been learning," Crompton said. "We've got some good tempo the first two days. I've been pretty pleased with everybody's effort and intensity. I think we're off to a good start."

Happy Drayton
A trimmer Arian Foster, who guessed he had lost about eight pounds but doesn't want to reveal his playing weight until the end of camp, said it's obvious new running backs coach Stan Drayton is happy in an offense that utilizes its running backs.

"I can tell he's happy. He's stressed his stressful days over at Florida to us," said Foster, who believes he's picked up an extra burst under Drayton. "You can tell their offense isn't really a running back offense, and I'm not trying to stir anything up. But it's just the truth. I bet it would be hard for a running backs coach over there, so I can see why he made the transition. I think he's going to be utilized and he's going to be liked very highly over here."

Foster's first impressions of Drayton as an on-the-field coach were favorable.

"He's tough, he's a technician," Foster said. "I like his style, though. He knows what he's talking about. Every drill he has us doing is very beneficial to little tiny increments of our game. And I like it."

Foster similarly appreciates having a position coach who understands the nuances of that position.

"Not to take anything away from Coach (Kurt) Roper when he was coaching, because he was a good coach here, but it's just different when you've played the position," Foster said. "(Drayton) has played the running back position, so he knows and understands what we do and why we do it. So it's a lot easier mode. It's just a better fit, I feel.

"Again, not to start anything because some other guys still talk to coach Roper. But I feel like (Drayton) is just a better fit for what I'm trying to get done and what our running backs group are trying to get done as well."

Versatile Parker
Anthony Parker is making the most of his time at center while Josh McNeil recuperates from knee surgery.

"I played (center) my freshman year, and that definitely helped me out a lot," Parker said. "Now with this new offense, I think playing center right now is definitely going to help me out a lot. It couldn't hurt. If I know what everybody on the line is doing, it's got to help me out."

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