Creer stars in scrimmage

Heralded Tennessee tailback Lennon Creer needed a little while to get comfortable in Saturday's football scrimmage. One play, to be exact.

After being stopped for no gain on his first carry, the talented Texan shocked observers by ripping off gains of 16 and 35 yards on his next two attempts. Lennon Creer showed the ability to read blocks and weave his way through traffic on the former, then exhibited an explosive burst of speed on the second.

With LaMarcus Coker's future in doubt following an indefinite suspension, Vol fans fretted that Tennessee had lost its only breakaway threat. Not so. The 6-1, 202-pound Creer appears to be just as fast as Coker. He made several more nice runs Saturday afternoon and finished with a scrimmage-high 84 yards on 11 carries. He ran mostly against the No. 2 defense but also got some work against first-team defenders.

"Lennon ran like I thought he would, based on what we've been seeing in live inside drills," offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe said. "He's got a nice feel, he's strong and he's certainly got some speed."

First-team tailback Arian Foster had a strong scrimmage, too. Running mostly against the No. 1 defense, the 6-1, 225-pound junior racked up 47 yards on 13 carries. His per-carry average would've been better except that he ran the ball numerous times in goal-line situations when the defense was massed to stop the run.

"Arian is playing at a high level," Cutcliffe said, adding that Foster won't get many carries in the remaining scrimmages as the Vols continue their search for depth behind him.

Montario Hardesty, who started four games in 2006, had a so-so day, rushing five times for 14 yards.

Freshman Daryl Vereen rushed 13 times for 41 yards. He showed nice acceleration on a 17-yard burst that would've gone for a 66-yard gain if senior safety Jarod Parrish hadn't made a touchdown-saving tackle. Fellow freshman Josh Hawkins added 16 yards on seven rushes. Walk-on Roy Olasimbo, competing against third-team defenders, chipped in 25 yards on six tries.

"I thought our base running game was good," Cutcliffe said, noting that the ground game "starts with" left tackle Eric Young and left guard Anthony Parker. "I want to see (center Josh) McNeil continue. He's made some progress but he's got progress left. Then we need to solidify the right side to see exactly where we are."

Chris Scott opened at right tackle, with Ramon Foster at right guard. Neither has a job locked up at this point.

"There still could be changes," Cutcliffe said. "We're going to evaluate this tape real closely."

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