Frosh RBs fire up Vols

Freshman quarterbacks Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer brought so much youthful enthusiasm to Tennessee's practice field last August that they invigorated the entire team. This August, a couple of freshman running backs may be having a similar impact.

Montario Hardesty and LaMarcus Coker showed so much energy and skill in UT's early workouts that they raised the level of competition around them. David Yancey, Arian Foster and JaKouri Williams – the other backs bidding for playing time behind starter Gerald Riggs -- have stepped up their play in response to the flashy freshmen.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer conceded following Tuesday's practice that the competition for the backup tailback spot is "very intense. It's made everybody better. It's certainly made (Arian) Foster better… All of a sudden, every time he gets the football there is a sense of urgency for him right now. It's obvious that Hardesty got their attention.

"It's a real good battle going on back there, as to who we'd put in a game second."

Foster popped a 40-yard run in Saturday's first full-scale scrimmage of the preseason. Other than that, however, the ground game was relatively quiet. Fulmer conceded that the running attack didn't produce a whole lot on Saturday.

"Not really," he said. "But if the defense puts a bunch of them up there (in the box), you're usually not going to get a whole lot out of it… That's kind of the way it is. Look at pro football; if a team rushes for 100 yards in a game, man, they've had a hell of a day."

With Vol defenders massed to stop the run on Saturday, the attack units were able to exploit them by hitting a few big pass plays. That's a trade-off Fulmer is not willing to make.

"The goal is to play the run that way and NOT give up those big plays they gave up," he said. "You can't do that."

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