|Vols' new offensive chief trying to learn|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 22 August 2008 22:07|
After spending nearly a decade as a head coach, Clawson wants to learn as much as he can about the way business is done at Tennessee in his first year as the Vols' offensive coordinator.
``There's a way that Tennessee does things and a way they've been successful. They win a lot of football,'' Clawson said. ``I'm trying to just listen a lot and absorb as much as I can.''
He's trying to learn why coach Phillip Fulmer and his staff recruit the way they do, learn how the offseason program is run and learn how the program is administered.
Before spending four years as head coach at Richmond and five at Fordham, Clawson worked for five years as an offensive coordinator at Villanova and Lehigh.
``I think as a head coach, there's got to be a chain of command and people have to know where they fit in that,'' he said. ``I think I have a greater appreciation of that now that I've had the experience of being a head coach for nine years.''
Fulmer has made it clear that it's Clawson, not him, in charge of running the offense after replacing David Cutcliffe, now the coach at Duke.
The Volunteers are returning eight starters on offense, including the team's top receivers and rushers from 2007 and an offensive line that allowed only four sacks.
That hasn't been enough to erase the uncertainty of having both a new offensive coordinator and quarterback in the mind of preseason pollsters and analysts.
The Vols are ranked 18th in the preseason Associated Press poll and have been picked by many to finish third in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division behind Georgia and Florida.
Clawson likes to describe his offensive style as one that puts the ball in his best player's hands.
Tennessee will still try to use a balance between the running and passing games to spread out defenses, but might rely more heavily on the squad's most versatile players like wide receiver Gerald Jones, tailback Arian Foster and tight end Brandon Warren.
It was a method that worked well when Clawson was offensive coordinator at Villanova and coached Brian Westbrook, the first player to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.
That was enough for Clawson's resume to impress Fulmer.
``For Westbrook to be the first back to rush for a thousand and catch a thousand passing at Villanova was pretty darn impressive,'' Fulmer said. ``He'll have a little bit more luxury here than maybe he's had anywhere else he's been in that there's several guys that have that potential.''
Clawson brought with him different terminology to describe some plays the Vols were already familiar with. He's also introduced some changes to the offensive line.
Despite the changes, his players appear to have taken to the new style. Fulmer said Clawson and quarterback Jonathan Crompton have been inseparable since they began to work together.
Senior wide receiver Josh Briscoe said Clawson is soft-spoken but still demands a lot of respect from his players.
Foster, also a senior, said he's enjoyed getting to learn a new system and working with a new coordinator.
``He's kind of laid back, but he's not,'' he said. ``I like his style.''