Originally created 11/04/99

Young Vols receivers need to step up

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- There's an internal clock in every good receiver's head that tells him when his quarterback is out of time. Cedrick Wilson of No. 4 Tennessee has one, but he may not play Saturday night against Notre Dame.

Vols quarterback Tee Martin hopes somebody else develops one. Now.

Martin said he had to pull the ball down and run several times last week against South Carolina because his receivers were too slow running their routes.

"I told Donte' (Stallworth), `You can do that in practice, but in a game I don't have on a green (no-contact) jersey,"' Martin said.

Wilson, Tennessee's leading receiver with 42 catches, played only one series before straining a hamstring against South Carolina last week. He is listed as questionable for Saturday's game against No. 24 Notre Dame.

Until he was hurt, Wilson was on a pace to set a Tennessee receiving record. That's a testament to Wilson's ability, but it also suggests Martin is not as comfortable with the other wide receivers and goes to Wilson on key plays. Eric Parker is the No. 2 receiver with 15 catches.

Wilson's absence was glaring against South Carolina. Tennessee (6-1) had a disjointed passing game the rest of the day.

Martin says it should be better with a week of practice by players who know their time has come.

"If Cedrick can come back it'll be a plus for us. If not, it won't be tragic," Martin said. "We got better as the South Carolina game went along."

Parker also was limited last week because of a flu bug, and did not catch a pass.

In their stead, Stallworth caught four passes for 130 yards, most of it on two long runs after catching short screen passes. Leonard Scott caught three passes.

"Donte' would have had about 400 yards and five touchdowns last week if he had done certain things," Martin said, shaking his head. "Little things, like not tripping or looking at me sooner."

Stallworth said he "didn't understand the importance of how much time Tee has back there. I was thinking he had a little more time than he actually did."

Stallworth and Martin spent most of Saturday night together going over things after the South Carolina game.

"We're in a teaching and learning mode," Martin said. "We're getting better."

Parker is expected to be back Saturday against the Irish (5-3).

"Definitely without Cedrick the offense is at a loss," Parker said. "We have to emerge. We all have to have stellar games."

Wilson said he probably won't know until game time if he can play.

"You really don't want to miss a game like this. As a kid you all wanted to play for Notre Dame or against them. It's a once-in-a-lifetime deal and I really hope God blesses me to play," he said on Tuesday. "But if I feel like I do right now, I won't be able to play."

If he can't play, Wilson will be on the sidelines coaching the younger receivers.

"Those guys need to learn to believe what they see" in terms of coverages, Wilson said. "Notre Dame is going to give us a lot of different looks. It could be very frustrating."


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