Clausen’s Vols plan to rebound

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2003

Coming off Tennessee’s destruction of Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, UT quarterback Casey Clausen was mentioned as a possible sleeper for the Heisman in 2002. His team was the pre-season favorite to win the SEC.

A year later the golden-boy quarterback and his team have something to prove after a dismal campaign littered with a myriad of injuries and a poisonous team chemistry.

Clausen has one more season to silence critics and prove once and for all just who he is.

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The California-kid irked some fans with his cool demeanor, others had him pegged as arrogant, but what they missed is the grim determination that allowed him to play with a broken collarbone and a severely sprained ankle.

Clausen got injured in Tennessee’s win over Arkansas in the teams overtime battle.

That didn’t stop Clausen from feathering a perfect strike to tight end Jason Witten for the game winner.

But that play was one of the few offensive highlights for the Vols in 2002.

It came natural for Clausen, a born quarterback.

When his team was in trouble, he’d try to make a play.

He says that he’s matured and learned that sometimes the best choice is to just throw the ball away and get ready for the next down.

Clausen lost his best receiver for the season and his offensive line was injury depleted as well. The starting offensive line only played together in two games as a whole.

As fans grew frustrated with the Vols lack of offense, blame fell on offensive coordinator Randy Sanders and onto Clausen.

This season, Clausen is a team captain and he has little tolerance for players who aren’t with the program. He says this off-season has been much better.