Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer sounded pleasantly surprised Friday about how quickly his Vols are learning their offensive and defensive assignments.
And that's doubly encouraging considering the addition of four new assistant coaches on the offensive side of the football since last year's squad completed a 10-4 season at the 2008 Outback Bowl.
?We are well ahead on both defense and offense with our insertion,? Fulmer said. I'm pleased with how well we've been able to pick things up. I think Coach (Dave) Clawson has been pleased.
Clawson, the former Richmond head coach now serving as Tennessee's offensive coordinator, was hired in January along with running backs coach Stan Drayton, wide receivers assistant Latrell Scott and tight ends coach Jason Michael. Their limited off-season in Knoxville appears to have been productive.
?We actually went from one kind of a scheme in ?06 to another one in 07 with the no-huddle, and the guys did a great job,?Fulmer said of the David Cutcliffe offense. That probably helped us with this transition and now here in '08 they are picking it up very well.
Tennessee's first full scrimmage of the spring is Saturday and serves as both the highlight and conclusion to the annual UT Coaching Clinic. Nearly 275 coaches from far and wide are enjoying the guest instructors, headlined Friday morning by Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.
?We have a great turnout, Fulmer said. Marvin Lewis spoke and then Coach (John) Chavis and I stole him for about an hour-and-a-half, locked the door and had some great conversations with him.?
The clinic continues Saturday morning inside Thompson-Boling Arena and includes Fulmer joining team chaplain James Mitchell for a ?Faith in Coaching? session. Afterward, it?s over to Neyland Stadium for the scrimmage.
I'm looking for effort,? Fulmer said of the practice game conditions. I'm looking for guys on defense who are going to be passionate about chasing the football and rushing the passer, breaking on the ball and knocking the thing loose.
Offensively, I?m looking for guys who are going to play with pad leverage. Guys who are going to take care of the ball and those kinds of things that you can never forget. Effort, leverage and who's going to play the game Saturday with a passion.