Ainge making progress

The numbers he posted in Tennessee's second full-scale scrimmage were so-so but sometimes, he says, you have to look beyond the numbers.

Although he completed just 10 of 20 passes for 91 yards in Saturday night's scrimmage, sophomore quarterback Erik Ainge believes he is making progress on a consistent basis this preseason.

"I feel like I know what's going on more and more," he said. "There were a couple of throws I could've got done that I missed and there were a couple of plays where I had guys open but our protection broke down. But, for the most part, I thought I did a good job."

Ainge struggled at the start of Saturday night's scrimmage. His first series consisted of two incompletions and a sack. He completed a two-yard dump-off to fullback Cory Anderson, then threw another incompletion – making him 1 of 4 for 2 yards to that point.

On the next play Ainge fired a 25-yard touchdown pass … only to have it nullified when officials ruled he was "touched" (i.e. – sacked) a split-second before he unloaded the ball.

"I thought I started off a little rough," he conceded.

After a sack, an incompletion and another sack, Ainge's numbers were downright woeful – 1 of 5 for 2 yards with three sacks.

Ainge hit Josh Briscoe with a 38-yard pass on his next series but threw a pass that was intercepted by Antwan Stewart on the very next snap.

In his defense, Ainge had a couple of passes dropped and a couple more tipped at the line of scrimmage because Vol offensive linemen were not allowed to cut-block (hit defensive linemen at the knees).

"We're not cutting defensive linemen , so a lot of balls were batted down," Ainge noted. "As it (the scrimmage) went on and we got into it, though, I thought I did a real good job. I credit that to the offensive line.

"It's easier to be a defensive lineman than an offensive lineman when you can't cut-block, so I think we did a good job overall. I thought we really figured it out about halfway through and performed well."

Ainge gets another chance this evening, when the Vols hold their final scrimmage of the preseason. Tonight's results may well determine whether he or senior Rick Clausen starts the Vols' Sept. 3 opener against Alabama-Birmingham.

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