KNOXVILLE — The so-called “new era of Tennessee offensive football” begins Tuesday, when the Volunteers open one of their most intriguing spring practices in years.
Phillip Fulmer matched those words — “new era” — with a wide smile. He has been overtly optimistic about first-year coordinator David Clawson’s plan for the UT offense.
What that offense will look like, though, remains a mystery.
Clawson steadfastly maintains that his Vols offenses will be shaped for every season’s best playmakers, just like his groups that started tormenting the Football Championship Subdivision in 1993. He has coached 1,000-yard rushers and 4,000-yard passers. He has coached quarterbacks who ran for nearly 1,000 yards in a season and tailbacks who surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier in both rushing and receiving yards.
Any formation at any time is a possibility, in Clawson’s words.
“The bottom line is our playmakers are going to get the ball,” Clawson said.
But who are UT’s playmakers?
Who will lead Clawson’s first Southeastern Conference offense?
Tailback Arian Foster’s decision to return for a senior season gave UT a big building block, but it didn’t ensure a firm foundation.
As long as Fulmer stays atop the chain of command, the Vols will try to establish a strong running game. But how much this team depends on Foster (and Montario Hardesty and Lennon Creer) depends on the answer to question No. 1.