Scrimmage notes

Poor quarterback play was one of the key factors in Tennessee's 5-6 record last fall. While Saturday's spring scrimmage hardly constitutes proof, it appears the Vols' QB play will be much improved in 2006.

Rising junior Erik Ainge, coming off a poor sophomore season, completed 14 of 23 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. He would've been 15 of 23 for 189 yards and two TDs except he had an 11-yard touchdown pass dropped by Bret Smith.

Ainge's velocity appears better than last year, and so is his decision-making. He made just one glaringly bad decision. That came on a throw over the deep middle that hit safety Jonathan Hefney right in the hands, only to be dropped. Ainge showed a feathery touch on a 44-yard strike to Robert Meachem and exhibited the ability to throw on the run with a two-yard throwback TD to Meachem while rolling to his right.

Redshirt freshman Jonathan Crompton appeared just as sharp. The rangy rookie completed 10 of 16 passes for 106 yards and three touchdowns. He would've been 11 of 16 for 115 yards and four TDs except Casey Woods dropped a nine-yard strike in the back of the end zone.

Crompton also showed some elusiveness. He scored untouched on a seven-yard quarterback draw and showed nifty feet while moving the pocket on several occasions.

Rising junior Bo Hardegree was the biggest surprise of the scrimmage, completing 13 of 19 for 87 yards and a touchdown. His best throw was a perfect strike from seven yards out that found a well-covered Slick Shelley in the back-left corner of the end zone. He also completed six consecutive passes in a two-minute drill.

Statistically, the leading receivers were Meachem (5 catches, 66 yards, 1 TD), Woods (4 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD), Slick Shelley (3 catches, 34 yards, 1 TD), Lucas Taylor (3 catches, 33 yards, 1 TD) and Bill Grimes (3 catches, 33 yards). The dropped TD throws by Smith and Woods were two of only four dropped passes on the day. Clearly, new receivers coach Trooper Taylor is emphasizing better concentration.

Cory Anderson, a 265-pounder utilized at both fullback and tailback, led the rushers with 66 yards on five carries. He got 64 of those yards on one play, however, and just 2 yards on the other four rushes. David Yancey had a 55-yard TD run among his five carries for 63 yards. He left safety Jonathan Hefney sprawled on the turf with a nifty move on the TD run. Converted defensive back Ricardo Kemp showed a nice burst of speed in gaining 24 yards on four carries. Injury-plagued Jakouri Williams picked up 10 yards on 10 carries.

Defensively, cornerback Marsalous Johnson led with 9 stops. Defensive tackle Dan Williams added 7 tackles, including 3 sacks. Cornerback Jonathan Wade also recorded 7 stops. Walk-on linebacker Anthony McAllister contributed 6 stops.

The most impressive defenders, however, were safety-turned-linebacker Adam Myers-White, linebacker-turned-defensive end Robert Ayers and tackle Demonte Bolden.

Myers-White showed remarkable quickness in recording four stops that included a sack and a tackle for loss. He also broke up a pass and came from the backside to drop Jakouri Williams after a short gain.

Ayers recorded just two stops but both were sacks. He also batted a pass at the line of scrimmage.

Bolden made the most of two tackles, as well, registering a sack, a tackle for loss and a fumble forced.

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