Is Cut the key?
Coach David Cutcliffe

Posted May 14, 2006

The return of offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, who molded the ultra-productive Tennessee attacks of the mid-1990s, has many Vol fans expecting a return to those high-scoring days of old. But is Cutcliffe alone enough to restore life to an offense that was virtually comatose last fall?

That’s the key question posed by Brett Edgerton of, who wonders about the bounce-back ability of quarterback Ainge and the big-play ability of Tennessee’s wide receivers.

Edgerton’s comments on the UT, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Vanderbilt football programs can be found in an article called “SEC East spring recap: Gators eyeing title.” Here’s the gist of his thoughts on Tennessee:

Fall Questions: The offense can't get any worse, right? While we were still trying to understand how a team ranked No. 3 in the preseason could finish 101st in scoring (19 ppg) and plummet to its first losing season in 17 years, coach Phillip Fulmer decided to bring back his old friend Cutcliffe (UT's offensive coordinator for most of the 1990s before becoming head coach at Ole Miss). Will he alone cure what ails this unit, though? QB Erik Ainge said all the right things this spring, but he took a major slide during that disastrous, season-long duel with Rick Clausen. If Ainge struggles early, will he start feeling the heat from impressive redshirt freshman Jonathan Crompton? … And how much heat will he be feeling from oncoming defenders? The Vols lose four starters off the O-line and players like Ramon Foster, Anthony Parker and Eric Young didn't exactly make anyone feel better about the situation this spring. Trouble up front will mean trouble on the scoreboard -- again. … Do you realize it's been three years since UT had a receiver gain at least 500 yards in a season? Lucas Taylor looks like a potential playmaker and Robert Meachem might finally tap into that unfulfilled potential, but the jury is still out on this group. Cut down on the drops when it counts and we'll listen.

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