"We're coming together and understanding the offensive scheme, exactly what we're trying to do," junior receiver Brandon Warren said recently. "I think everybody's starting to click, getting on the same page."
That's especially true for Warren, who distinguished himself in last Saturday's full-scale scrimmage with a nifty cut on a 34-yard reception and a six-yard TD catch. He admits he never quite grasped last year's offensive scheme.
"I'm feeling a lot more comfortable," he said. "It's not near as difficult as it was last season - terminology and everything. It is what it is, and that's what football is. You just go out and play ball, and I like it."
The offense scored three touchdowns and three field goals in last Saturday's scrimmage but came within a whisker of putting up some big numbers.
- Freshman Marsalis Teague barely missed making a diving catch of a 25-yard pass Nick Stephens at the 15-yard line. UT wound up getting no points from the possession.
- A flanker pass from Nu'keese Richardson to fellow freshman Zach Rogers would've produced a 27-yard touchdown except for a brilliant recovery by cornerback Mike Edwards, yet another freshman. UT wound up getting zero points out of the possession.
- Fullback Sam Edgmon was wide open at the 15-yard line when the defensive back covering him tripped but Jonathan Crompton's throw sailed too high. UT wound up settling for a field goal instead of a touchdown.
Big plays were almost non-existent in 2008 but Warren believes the Vol offense will make a lot of big plays in '09.
"Every time out there I think something good can happen with the great players we've got," he said. "We've got a lot of good plays, and any of them can break at any moment. That's the exciting part about it."
Whereas the defense totally dominated preseason scrimmages last August, the offense has been holding its own this August. That was the case again last Saturday.
"We just wanted to come out and compete as an offense against the defense," Warren noted. "We wanted to come out, fly around and be physical. I think we did a good job."
With four weeks of preseason drills due to end with a kicking scrimmage on Saturday, the Vols are looking forward to Monday and the start of "Game Week." They are understandably eager to line up against Western Kentucky on Sept. 5.
"This is the best time," Warren said, "because we're about to roll into the first game."