Vol offense coming alive

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — It's hard to call the Tennessee offense a well-oiled machine after the first scrimmage of training camp, but the Volunteers showed life both on the ground and in the air at Science Hill High School on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Out of 50 passes by the three scholarship quarterbacks, only one attempt was intercepted, which came from a freshman in his first camp contest — Nathan Peterman.

Wide receivers Da' Rick Rogers (six receptions, 105 yards, one touchdown) and Justin Hunter (7-47) continue to back up the preseason hype with production.

"For me to be out there was great, took a couple of hits and everything and it felt good," said Hunter, who is on his way back from tearing a knee ligament last September.

Jacob Carter, the walk-on from Ensworth (Tenn.) High School, posted some gaudy statistics in the spring and continued that progress to the fall and had four receptions for 58 yards and a score.

As it was long before Derek Dooley arrived as the head coach in Knoxville and will likely be for the foreseeable future, much of the attention centered around the key cog to the Pro-Style offense — the running game.

Ball carriers as a whole had 49 carries for 301 yards (6.14 per carry) with as-of-right-now starting tailback Rajion Neal blistering the Orange & White defense for 134 yards on just nine carries. The junior from Sandy Creek (Ga.) High School highlighted the afternoon with a 68-yard vault to paydirt.

"Rajion Neal came out early and had a 60, 70-yard run early right off the bat," Rogers said. "The O-line blocked that up great and he kept it up strong the rest of the game."

Freshman tailback Quenshaun Watson showed the breakaway speed that the Tennessee staff saw out of him last season at Clarke Central (Ga.) High with a 61-yard TD run. However, he totaled minus-1 yard on his five other carries.

More than anything, coaches want to see the offense get out of the huddle (if there is one) on time, facilitate the offense and operate a clean, chain-moving machine when the first 1-2 scrimmages take place. Going by the statistics and the head coach's comments, the Vols were productive and did well with the two-minute offense.

Starting quarterback Tyler Bray, who has a propensity to push the envelope with his reads and throws in scrimmage settings, completed 18 of 31 passes for 189 yards with a 29-yard scoring strike to Rogers.

"I am trying to take more command and get everyone where they need to be so we can execute the offense," Bray said.

Sophomore backup signal-caller Justin Worley enjoyed an efficient day slingin' the rock in the Tri-Cities sun, hitting on 9 of 15 attempts for 134 yards and two TDs (17, 20).

"Justin has had a great camp too guys," said Dooley, when asked about his top QBs. "Both of them commanded the situation the way we wanted to. They were poised, they were calm, understood the time, understood the timeouts. That was good to see."

The present plan, based off UT's schedule, is for the InsideTennessee crew to be at Milligan College on Monday morning for the next practice.

See more from Hunter talking about the scrimmage in the video below:

Neal talks about his big day carrying the football in this footage:

Center James Stone says he and his fellow offensive linemen are making progress. Hear what he had to say:

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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