Riggs is rolling ... finally

<!--Default For Tennessee is to ignore-->Tennessee tailback Gerald Riggs Jr., was tired after last Saturday night's game with <!--Default NodeId For Ole Miss is 71056,2004--><A HREF=http://mississippi.TheInsiders.com>Ole Miss</A> but it was a GOOD kind of tired.

He had just converted his first college start into a 26-carry, 118-yard rushing performance that helped the Vols notch a 21-14 victory. The 26 carries matched his career high, set one week earlier against Georgia.

''There was a little bit more soreness than usual, just because I hadn't been subjected to that kind of workload in a few years,'' Riggs said this week. ''Obviously, it's a lot different than carrying the ball 26 times in high school. But you're going to be sore after games like that, especially back-to-back weeks when you haven't done it in awhile.''

Rated a top-five running back in high school, Riggs scarcely carried the ball his first two years at Tennessee. If he developed any rust, though, he seems to be shedding it quickly this fall.

''The more you're in the game, the more things come back to you,'' he said. ''I was a little bit rusty with some of those things at the beginning of the season but it's starting to come back to me.''

Obviously. Riggs has three 100-yard performances in his last four games. He gained 116 on 16 carries in Game 3 vs. Louisiana Tech, 102 on 26 carries in Game 5 at Georgia and 118 on 26 carries in Game 6 at Ole Miss. The only time he didn't crack the 100-yard barier was Game 4 against Auburn, when an early deficit forced Tennessee to abandon the run. Still, Riggs gained 43 yards on just seven carries, an average of 6.1 yards per attempt.

Cedric Houston started the first five games at tailback but Riggs clearly has overtaken him. Combining stats for the past two games shows Houston with 32 yards on 22 rushes (1.5 yards per carry), whereas Riggs has 220 yards on 52 rushes (4.2 yards per carry).

Riggs would love to run for 150 or more yards every game but he isn't about to get greedy. As long as he's productive and Tennessee's winning, he's happy.

''Everybody knows we're going to come out and run the ball,'' he said. ''But teams are stacking up against that. We played against an eight-man front pretty much every down last week (at Ole Miss), so I'm satisfied with what we're getting done.... As long as what I'm doing is helping us win, that's what's important.''

Being the son of former Atlanta Falcons running back Gerald Riggs, Sr., has its perks. Junior says he still gets occasional tips from his dad.

''He says maybe I need even more patience, setting up my blocks a little bit better,'' the younger Riggs said. ''That again comes with more time being out there and getting back in the groove.

''I've played a lot of football this year and I've been able to make some plays. Some of those things still haven't come out yet that I'm able to do, but it's just a matter of getting into the flow of the game a little bit more.''

Given how productive Riggs has been lately, Vol fans can hardly wait to see how dynamic he'll be when he gets ''in the flow.''


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