Stats don't lie but ...

Sometimes statistics tell a lot about a football player. And sometimes statistics tell absolutely nothing about him. That simple truth was never more evident than in Tennessee's last two full-scale scrimmages of the preseason.

Sophomore tailback Arian Foster carried three times in Scrimmage No. 2. Not once did he make it back to the line of scrimmage. He wound up with minus-11 yards on the three rushes, which seems to suggest he isn't much of a running back.

Obviously, that is not the case. Foster averaged 148 yards per game in his five late-season starts last fall and is a preseason second-team All-SEC pick for 2006. Still, he clearly was disappointed with his unproductive effort in that scrimmage.

"It was a little frustrating not being able to get carries," he said, "but Coach Fulmer knows what he's doing."

Foster appeared to be a little slow getting turned upfield in Scrimmage No. 2. He was running "East and West" as coaches like to say, and that enabled Tennessee's aggressive defenders to stop him in his tracks.

Foster was all North and South in Scrimmage No. 3, however, exploding through holes at full speed. He finished with 28 yards on just four carries, showing the dash and determination that made him such a productive freshman last fall. Still, he wasn't satisfied.

"I felt OK out there," he recalled. "I've got a couple of things to work on but I feel like I'll be OK. I need to work on pass blocking, little technique things."

The Vol offense improved significantly from Scrimmage 1 to Scrimmage 3, and Foster believes that progress will continue.

"We seem to be jelling as a team, coming together as a unit," he said. "We're starting to make plays, starting to play smarter and do the little things right. Little things make big things happen."

Foster, who played his junior and senior seasons of high school ball in San Diego, is eager to face the home-state California Golden Bears in UT's Sept. 2 opener. Heck, he's eager to face ANYBODY that isn't wearing orange.

"We're tired of beating each other up," he said. "We're ready to put it on Cal."


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