''Inky Johnson showed up at corner,'' defensive coordinator John Chavis said. ''He made some plays over there, but he's a guy we knew was very, very talented.''
The emergence of Johnson as a quality prospect gives Tennessee a solid outlook at cornerback. Junior Jason Allen is an All-Southeastern Conference caliber player. World-class sprinter Jonathan Wade has looked very good after moving over from wide receiver. Heralded prep school grad Jonathan Hefney has lived up to his billing and Roshaun Fellows continues to show a big-play knack. Fellows and Hefney intercepted passes during Saturday's scrimmage.
Except for two big plays -- both by Robert Meachem -- Chavis' troops dominated Saturday's scrimmage. Meachem turned a short reception into a 33-yard gain early in the scrimmage and later gathered in a bomb from Brent Schaeffer and sped 65 yards to paydirt.
''We've got to eliminate the big play,'' Chavis said. ''We were so close to doing that (but) we let 'em have one or two.''
Although UT's defensive philosophy is built around forcing the action, Chavis won't accept the notion that surrendering the occasional big play is an inevitable result of such aggressiveness.
''If you eliminate the big play,'' he said, ''you're going to have a chance to win a lot of ballgames.''
Although Vol offensive coordinator Randy Sanders gave a lot of snaps to freshman quarterbacks Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer, Chavis said his defense didn't blitz any more than usual in hopes of rattling the rookies.
''We blitzed maybe 20 percent of the time -- enough to make them feel the threat of the blitz,'' he said. ''But I'd say it was about average for a first scrimmage.''
Chavis' troops allowed just one run of more than 15 yards -- a 19-yarder by Cedric Houston -- and safety Corey Campbell stripped the ball at the end of that one, resulting in a defensive fumble recovery. Except for the two big plays by Meachem, Vol defenders generally limited the passing game to short gains. Still, the thing that pleased Chavis most was not the pass coverage or the run support.
''I thought our guys competed well and gave great effort,'' the coordinator said. ''I told them before we came out (for the scrimmage) that the thing that was going to be most important in grading this film was going to be effort. You realize there's going to be some mistakes in your first big scrimmage, so you work to correct those. The thing we DON'T have time to correct is effort.''
After watching his guys control the tempo throughout the first scrimmage, Chavis is hoping they will build on this success.
''Now what's important is: Where do you go from here?'' Chavis said. ''You can't regress. You've got to continue to progress.''