'D' scores two TDs in scrimmage

Mother Nature, inexperienced receivers and an opportunistic defensive back combined to shut down Tennessee's passing attack Saturday at Neyland Stadium in the first scrimmage of the spring.

Gusting winds of up to 45 miles per hour made throwing the football hazardous. No. 1 quarterback Erik Ainge completed just 9 of 26 attempts for 90 yards. No. 2 QB Crompton had a little more success, going 16 of 24 for 106 yards.

Each quarterback made a mistake that resulted in a defensive touchdown. Senior cornerback Antonio Gaines picked off an Ainge pass and returned it 37 yards. Redshirt freshman linebacker Dorian Davis scooped up a Crompton fumble and ran 55 yards.

With the passing game hindered by the wind, tailbacks Arian Foster and LaMarcus Coker provided most of the offense. Foster finished with 98 yards on 19 carries. Coker gained 60 yards on eight tries before leaving with sore ribs. Walk-on Roy Olasimbo added 50 yards on 15 rushes.

Redshirt freshman Slick Shelley led all receivers with 38 yards on three grabs. Tight end Brad Cottam added 33 yards on two receptions. Sophomore Quintin Hancock added 24 yards on two catches.

Redshirt freshman kicker Daniel Lincoln connected on five of six field goals, with a long of 42 yards. Britton Colquitt made three of five, with a long of 50.

Defensive leaders were Davis (7 tackles and the fumble return TD), safety Antonio Wardlow (7 tackles), linebacker Nick Reveiz (6 tackles, 1 fumble forced), linebacker Rico McCoy (6 tackles), safety Jonathan Hefney (5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss), linebacker Ellix Wilson (5 tackles) and Gaines (4 tackles, 2 pass breakups and the 37-yard interception return).

Head coach Phillip Fulmer said he saw "good signs on both sides" of the line of scrimmage and was not at all concerned by the struggles in the passing game, given the extenuating circumstances.

"Our passing numbers weren't what they typically would be," Fulmer said. "But I think that's as much the receivers and the wind today."

Despite Ainge's paltry numbers, the head man said he was "pleased with Erik," adding: "He stood in the pocket well and didn't get hit much – which is a good and a bad sign. That second-team defensive line looks like shadows of the offensive line. They can't get away from them."

After throwing three incompletions, Ainge handed off to Foster for a six-yard gain. Ainge's fourth pass of the day – a quick out – was picked off by Gaines and returned for a score.

Foster had an 11-yard run on the next series, and Ainge hit tight end Chris Brown for a gain of roughly 20 yards. A Xavier Mitchell sack sabotaged the series, however, then Colquitt missed a 40-yard field goal.

Crompton got the next series at quarterback, and promptly hit Shelley for a 15-yard gain. After runs of 8 and 7 yards by Coker, however, the drive stalled and Lincoln nailed a 42-yard field goal.

Crompton hit Jeff Cottam for nine yards and JaKouri Williams for six before stalling again. Lincoln then hit a 35-yard field goal.

Foster made a nifty move on an eight-yard run and an even niftier run for a 13-yard gain on a screen pass. The latter was nullified by a holding call against receiver Josh Briscoe, however, killing the drive.

Crompton, rolling to his right, hit Shelley with a 17-yard strike, then Coker broke free on a 20-yard burst. Olasimbo made an 11-yard run but the drive stalled and Lincoln nailed a 28-yard field goal.

Tennessee then ran its orange-area offense from the 20-yard line. Ainge experienced two near-misses. A well-thrown pass to Briscoe fell incomplete, thanks to a big hit from Gaines, then a pass just skimmed off the fingertips of a leaping Brad Cottam in the back of the end zone.

The next possession reached the 7-yard line before stalling. Colquitt then hit a 25-yard field goal.

Foster picked up 14 yards on a nice run, then Crompton found a lunging David Holbert with a six-yard pass for the first offensive touchdown of the day.

Moving to a first-and-goal drill at the 9-yard line, Crompton handed to Foster for six yards, then Olasimbo got the last three yards on three smashes into the line.

Ainge then put together two nine-yard TD drives. He hit Brad Cottam with a nine-yard toss for the first. On the second he hit Austin Rogers for six yards, then handed to Foster, who scored untouched around right end.

No. 3 QB Nick Stephens got a few goal-line series at this point, converting one of them into a TD, thanks to a spectacular leaping catch at the goal line by Hancock.

Tennessee then ran a series of plays from midfield. After making a throwaway under pressure, Ainge hit Rogers for nearly 20 yards on a crossing route and found Brad Cottam for roughly 20 more. Defensive tackle Dan Williams then sacked Ainge for an eight-yard loss.

Crompton hit Foster for five yards, then Foster rambled for 18 on the next play, dragging a tackler the last four yards. After hitting Hancock for a nice gain, Crompton fumbled at the end of a scramble. Davis scooped up the loose ball and rambled 55 yards for the second defensive TD of the afternoon.

Corner Rolando Kemp made a couple of nice pass breakups to prevent completions to Brisco and Lucas Taylor, then Colquitt hit a 35-yard field goal.

Crompton hit Shelley for 25 yards, then Lincoln nailed a 29-yard field goal.

The scrimmage ended with two 50-yard field goal tries. Lincoln was one yard short, while Colquitt put his kick over the crossbar with about a yard to spare.


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