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Spaulding Roundup: Got To Keep It Coming

We will start this Monday with some quick notes on the Volunteers fall scrimmage courtesy of our friends at Rocky Top Talk (RTT). The Volunteers also held their fall scrimmage this past weekend and reading Joel’s notes it sounds like the Tennessee offense under its new OC – Dave Clawson – is taking shape:

  • No interceptions from Crompton [Jonathan Crompton – BN Ed], who went 12-18 for 101 yards and one touchdown -- a "great throw," according to recipient Gerald Jones, who had found just a bit of space between Eric Berry and some unidentified defender. Crompton also led the team on another drive that ended with a mid-range field goal by Daniel Lincoln. Clawson says that Crompton is playing faster every time he steps on the field. Clock and huddle management was good.
  • The receivers were consistently able to find space.
  • The offensive line got a strong push and made room for the running backs.

 Joel and the RTT crew already have nicknamed their new offense "Clawfense." We will roll out more notes on those guys starting next week. Needless to say Crompton and his team-mates are going to present a challenge for DeWayne Walker, who is right now working to figure out how to manage an young and inexperienced secondary unit featuring a true freshman in Rahim Moore. Chris Foster from the LA Times gives us a little peak into Walker’s mindset in deciding to go with Moore:

"He's going to have to come on some more these next two weeks," Walker said. "On that one play, fortunately we sacked the QB. If not, it is a wide-open touchdown. It's just little high school mistakes."

As for whether he could accept some freshman-like mistakes, Walker said, "I can't have that in a game."

Moore has been the best of a talented group of freshman defensive backs -- Tony Dye, Aaron Hester and E.J. Woods. He has spent the last two weeks taking an Evelyn Wood speed-reading course on college football.

"The college level is hard," said Moore, who was ranked third nationally among defensive backs by "Not so much the plays, but the players. They are bigger and faster.

"Coach Walker told me straight up, 'Rahim, there is going to be a lot thrown at you. I'm going to be doing a lot of things to you.'

"I've been going through this since I was in the 10th grade. This is not overwhelming, but it is challenging."

More from the Daily News on the same topic:

"For a young kid, I feel sorry for him, but he's all we got," Walker said. "And he's good enough to come through. Athletically, I think he can do it. Mentally, I think he's going to have to keep coming."

Another kid who will have to keep it coming is Chris Forcier. Foricer right now is behind Craft in the ongoing QB competition. But as Dohn notes Forcier and everyone associated with this program knows, given our recent history, he has to turn it up a notch in terms of preparations both on and off the field. He is not letting up:

UCLA quarterback Chris Forcier wasn't fazed when Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel said last week the redshirt freshman needed a better off-the-field commitment to run the offense.

So, no more afternoon naps for Forcier. Instead, he is working harder at learning the offense, and trying to gain the trust of UCLA's coaching staff.

"I knew it. It wasn't any news to me," said Forcier, UCLA's backup quarterback. "Making mistakes out there, I know I'm a young guy and I have to get on the offense. You can never learn too much. You can know it, but it doesn't hurt to go over it again.

"I'm doing more now. I'm looking over more film. Instead of taking naps in the afternoon when we have off, I'm looking at the playbook, making flash cards or whatever, just to get a step ahead."

Forcier's relevance is combination of history and the present. The last time the Bruins made it through a season with only one quarterback was 2005, when Drew Olson led UCLA to a 10-2 mark, and only once in the past six seasons did one quarterback start each game.

Again at this point of time all our team needs from Forcier and Craft is to be able to manage our offense minimizing the number of mistakes. On the same note Ted Miller posted some good takes on WWL on how the our team might have a decent chance to put together a salvageable season if it combines good defense with great special teams performance:

[H]ere are two critical things: 1. The defense is good. 2. Punter Aaron Perez owns a big foot (see the monstrous 58-yard boot he launched into the stratosphere on his first punt).

That's a great combination to have because it means a team can focus on the field position game and not take stupid chances on offense.

And if the defense can force a few extra turnovers while winning the field position battle of attrition that can mean short fields for the offense -- and probably a lot of 40-plus-yard field goal attempts from kicker Kai Forbath.

I think that sounds about right. However, we also have to be realistic about the flip side. I think the best way to scheme against the team we have right now is to feature a ball control offense, that would grind it out and wear down our defense. I will not be surprise if that is exactly what Fulmer and co. cook it up for Labor Day when they open up with a game plan that would put a premium on keeping our defense on the field for a while in the early going so that they could wear us down. On the defensive side, Craft and Forcier can expect a heavy dose of blitzes all game long as the opposing DC will go all out in their attempt to rattle our young QBs.

The question will be is whether Craft (assuming he is the starter) and/or Forcier (if he sees action) will be composed enough so that they can maintain their cool, while not giving up the ball and do their best to find their hot receivers. They will also need serviceable performance from our patchwork OL that will have to open some gaps for Bell, Carter et al to blast through and do their best to make sure their young QBs are not being driven into the Rose Bowl turf by the white jerseys. 

Our guys have 14 more days to study up during their nap time and keep it coming at Spaulding. As anxious as I am about our team and as realistic I am about the prospect of a long season, I can’t help feel like 66 given what I have seen and read re. our staff.