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Clawson says too many breakdowns burst UT bubble

Clawson says too many breakdowns burst UT bubble

Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 4:24 pm
By: By Beth Rucker, Associated Press Writer

KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tennessee offensive coordinator Dave Clawson thinks he and his players have only themselves to blame for their crop of problems at UCLA.
The Vols (0-1) ran the ball efficiently but struggled in the passing game in the 27-24 loss last week. On some plays it was because the line’s protection broke down; on others the receivers failed to separate from defenders; other passes were thrown inaccurately.
“We had too many breakdowns to expect to be successful on offense,” Clawson said Tuesday. “Those are things that have to get a lot better from Week 1 to Week 2 and that’s what we’re working very hard to do.”
Coaches and players spent their off week trying to correct the many mistakes which cropped up in the UCLA game before preparing to face UAB (0-2) on Saturday.
Clawson did not believe anything the UCLA defense did was new to the eight returning offensive starters and other players with on-the-field experience.
Arian Foster and Montario Hardesty ran the ball successfully — combined they averaged nearly 6.5 yards a carry — and quarterback Jonathan Crompton completed some short passes before halftime.
Clawson felt he had to back away from the run and short passing game when the Bruins began to stack defenders near the line of scrimmage to add pressure and began ordering a few longer passes. Those plays failed.
“We wanted to sting them deep and back them off a little bit. We thought that would help us run the ball and help us execute the short passing game. When they’re up in your face and pressing you and playing man-to-man, you’ve got to challenge them,” he said.
The passing problems were exacerbated when the Vols struggled to convert on third down and had game-changing mistakes like Foster’s fumble on the UCLA 6-yard line or penalties that put the Vols out of field goal range.
Many mistakes were made on second down. The Vols were usually successful with first down runs and a few short passes, but penalties and negative yardage on the next play often pushed them back.
“We had a lot of second and very manageable downs that we turned into third and unmanageable,” he said. “That’s really where I thought our biggest breakdowns in the game occurred.”
Clawson expects the passing game to improve with more repetitions on the practice field.
He may roll Crompton out of the pocket more to give the mobile quarterback more of a chance to tuck the ball and run. And with Crompton’s strong arm and a corps of talented receivers, Clawson still plans to try the occasional long pass.
He’s also spent some time talking to Foster about the way he carries the football.
Foster, while not a frequent fumbler, has caused several game-changing fumbles in his career.
“There’s a certain correct way to carry the football. Unfortunately, the ball wasn’t held with the proper technique at a very critical time,” Clawson said.
“Arian’s a good player. He’s going to be back in there. We’re going to give him the ball again, and we’re going to give him the ball again in that situation. At the same time, he knows he has to protect it. I don’t think anybody is any more aware of that than Arian is.”

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