O-line is versatile

The University of Tennessee football team has a bunch of offensive linemen who can play several positions. The problem is: Does Tennessee have enough offensive linemen who can play one position WELL?

That question is still hanging in view of Saturday's first full-scale scrimmage of the preseason. Tailbacks Arian Foster, LaMarcus Coker, David Yancey and Ja'Kouri Williams had a few decent openings but ran into some brick walls, too. Meanwhile, pass protection for quarterbacks Erik Ainge, Jonathan Crompton and Bo Hardegree was very good at times, not so good at other times.

Regardless, sophomore guard Anthony Parker believes the blocking front is progressing nicely and will be fine by the Sept. 2 opener against California.

"From the first day of practice to right now, there's been a lot of improvement," he said. "This was the first real scrimmage, so from this scrimmage to the next scrimmage is when we should make the biggest improvement. We'll be able to see stuff on tape and, hopefully, we'll just get better."

The Vols might get better quicker if they didn't do so much shuffling in the offensive line. How can there be continuity with new guys entering the lineup on almost every play?

"We've got a lot of good guys on the offensive line and we all rotate at different positions," Parker said. "David Ligon can play all three positions (center, guard, tackle). I can play guard and center. Michael Frogg can play guard and center. Ramon Foster can play guard and tackle. Arron Sears can play guard and tackle. Everybody's comfortable at any position."

So, what's the key to the line's continued development?

"Just hard work," Parker replied. "Keep working as we are. The harder we work the better we'll get."

Phillip Fulmer thinks all of the verbal abuse the line took in 2005 has made the 2006 linemen more determined.

"I think we're making some strides there," the head coach said. "There's a mentality there because they've been kinda' beat up by everybody, and they're anxious to prove everybody wrong."

Fulmer wasn't particularly pleased with the run blocking on Saturday but seemed happy with the pass protection.

"I don't know if we played well or the defense didn't get the rush they normally do," he said. "But, whichever way it was, it was fairly productive from a protection standpoint."


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