Running quarterbacks are still a rare delicacy only utilized by the deviants of college football.
Or so Tennessee seems to think.
After all, Butch Jones preaches frequently that the SEC is a line of scrimmage league.
Any team worth its salt is going to line up and hit you in the mouth, not foray into tomfoolery like allowing the guy who is supposed to pass the ball to run with it, right?
It appears the Vols believe signal callers with wheels are essentially like point guards who dared to dribble the ball between their legs or attempt behind-the-back passes in the 1950s: an exception to the rule and an overall disservice to the game that comes around every once and a while but isn't worth fretting over.
"It's an extra element that the defense has to defend," UT linebacker Dontavis Sapp said Saturday after Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall ran mostly untouched for 214 yards as his Tigers glided past the Vols 55-23.
Except running quarterbacks aren't just an "extra" element anymore. They are not some occasional nuisance. They're the norm. In fact, the current top 10 indicates pure pocket passers are the exception in today's college football landscape. Tennessee's coaches need to acknowledge as much. Maybe if they had on Saturday, Marshall might have thrown the ball more than seven times.
Alabama's A.J. McCarron is the lone quarterback in the top 10 who is essentially inept at running the football.
The Vols were no good at slowing McCarron, either, but they continue to be ransacked by dual-threat quarterbacks this year at a level that makes UT's 2012 defense appear potent.
Quarterbacks have accounted for 657 rushing yards against the Vols through 10 games in 2013. They ran for just 225 last season.
Marshall's field day is just the latest in a string of games that proves the Vols lack more than just speed. Poor performances in containing quarterbacks from Auburn, Missouri, South Carolina, South Alabama and Florida indicate the Vols are also inept at adapting to their opponents.
With two games left, they at least seem to be catching on.
"It's a copycat league," Sapp said. "We didn't stop it early (in the season) and of course, Auburn saw it. They figured they can do it too."
Is Jones wrong to peg the SEC as a line of scrimmage league? No, but the conference isn't stuck in a cave, oblivious to obvious methods of success. Dual-threat quarterbacks are everywhere and don't seem to be an endangered species.
Sure, Alabama and LSU are ground-and-pound offenses that bruise opponents to death with quarterbacks firmly planted in the pocket. But then there's Missouri, Auburn and Texas A&M. Each are among the nation's elite and have quarterbacks just as comfortable scrambling in the open field as they are going through their progressions in the pocket.
Yes, the Vols lack speed. But they also lack the ability to adjust, even over an entire season. And that's not a problem that will simply fix itself with an influx of talent.
It's adapt or die in college football, and UT's dream of a bowl game is awfully close to dying thanks to mobile quarterbacks.