Ainge used the word ``encouraged'' more than once. He felt better and the offense and himself after going 17 of 26 for 196 yards and one touchdowns, a 25-yard strike over the middle to Robert Meachem.
The first-team offense, which didn't score in the first major scrimmage, put up 17 points, if you count one overtime situation from the 25-yard line. The Vols scored on a field goal on a seven-play, 55-yard drive, scored a touchdown on a nine-play, 40-yard march and got a touchdown in an overtime simulation.
``We looked like we used to look out here,'' Ainge said.
A cynic might gasp, ``Oh, no.''
But Erik Ainge was referring to more positive times. And it was clear Ainge had a more positive pocket presence. He said he made a couple of mental mistakes when he tried to get ``too cute'' with some checks. Otherwise, he played well.
Ainge made several big-league throws. He zipped a 12-yard pass to the tight end on the first possession. He rolled left – yes, left, my least favorite play in the Ainge arsenal – and found Robert Meachem for 9 yards. He threw a 37-yarder to Meachem deep and to the left. He zipped a bullet to Jayson Swain on a slant for 19. He made a nice 39-yard toss to tight end Brad Cottam, who displayed an ability to go deep.
``The flow was better,'' Ainge said of the offense. ``We had seven practices in five days and we didn't take a play off. I think it really helped us a lot.''
Tennessee tried to go deep several times, but rarely had success with Ainge. Ainge is throwing the intermediate pass with zip and accuracy, but he's still a work in progress on throws beyond 30 yards.