Will Casey's play spur Vols?

Will Casey's play spur Vols?

One play CAN turn around an entire season. It happened to Tennessee's football team in 2000 at South Carolina, when a freshman quarterback named Casey Clausen completed a 23-yard pass to Donte' Stallworth on a third-and-14, extending a fourth-quarter drive that gave the Vols a last-minute touchdown and a dramatic 17-14 victory.

Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders noted at the time that the Vols ''could reap the benefits of that drive the rest of the year.'' Sure enough, Tennessee swept its remaining regular-season games -- notching another last-minute victory at Memphis (19-17), blowing out Arkansas (63-20) and Kentucky (59-20), then edging Vanderbilt (28-26) in the finale.

Clausen, now a senior, produced an even more dramatic play last weekend at Alabama. Down 34-27 in double overtime, the Vols faced a fourth-and-19 at the Tide 34-yard line. Anything less than a 19-yard gain meant defeat, yet Clausen coolly hit C.J. Fayton with a 28-yard completion that carried to the Bama 6-yard line. The Vols scored on the very next play and went on to win the game.

So, could the fourth-and-19 play vs. Bama spur the 2003 Vols, as the third-and-14 play did for the 2000 Vols?

''Sure,'' Sanders said. ''It depends on what we do this week (vs. Duke) and the rest of the season. But if you go back to that play in 2000, that was the first game Casey ever started. Hitting a pass like that in that situation gave him a lot of confidence. We probably felt the repercussions from that one Saturday night on the fourth-and-19. He had confidence he could get it done.''

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