Vols play give-away in scrimmage

If not for wasted plays, Tennessee's offense had a solid showing during the second major scrimmage of the fall camp Saturday night at Neyland Stadium.

The first two quarterbacks were sharp, the running backs were impressive and the offensive line opened holes. If not for eight dropped passes – Trooper Taylor counted six - the offense might have dominated.

``We made some plays but gave a lot of plays away,'' said offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe. ``Any time you have drops or missed assignments or a bad snap or an overthrown ball … when you have an opportunity, you better take advantage of it.''

Cutcliffe said he was ``surprised'' by the drops because ``it's not something we're used to seeing.''

Cutcliffe wondered if it was practicing under the lights for the first time or working in front of a few thousand fans who made it into the closed scrimmage.

``I'm trying to figure out why and what's going on,'' Cutcliffe said. ``It was disconcerting to see.''

Taylor, the receivers coach, said he was ``very frustrated'' by the drops.

``It was contagious,'' Taylor said. ``The back dropped one. The receiver dropped one. The tight end dropped one. It's a game of momentum and if it changes on you because of one bad play, that's how important making that play becomes.

``I try to make the guys understand, there is no such thing as a drop. Drops come from lack of concentration or focus. Football is a game of habits. You shouldn't have the habit of dropping the football. We catch 100 balls a day on the Jugs machine for a reason.''

While some of the receivers didn't catch the ball well, three stood out. Austin Rogers caught four for 56 yards, mostly from his favorite spot – the slot. Josh Briscoe, who has a knack for getting open, had four catches for 29 yards. And true freshman Denarius Moore had two catches for 48 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown reception from Erik Ainge on the fourth series.

Moore also had a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown (although nullified by a penalty).

``Do I want Denarius on that plane (to California for the opener)? Yes,'' Taylor said.

But Taylor isn't ready to give Moore a boarding pass. He remembers last August when true freshman receiver Quintin Hancock was making big plays, then hit what Taylor called a ``freshman wall.''

``I don't want to put more on him (Moore) than he can handle,'' Taylor said.

Maybe not. But there's no mistaking Moore's ability. No. 83 has a knack for making big plays. That's how Tennessee found him in the first place. Taylor was recruiting running back Lennon Creer in Tatum, Texas, but he couldn't ignore Moore.

``This kid stood out,'' Taylor said. ``He make plays on offense. He made plays on defense. One time I watched him play basketball and in the pregame warmup he was more physical than anybody I'd ever seen. You knew the kid had something to him.''

Many thought UT offered Moore as a package deal to land his more highly touted teammate, Creer. But Taylor said LSU, Florida and Oklahoma all offered Moore.

``All three of them weren't going to miss that bad,'' Taylor said. ``I'm glad we got him and I think the kid understands it wasn't a package deal.''

Taylor said Rogers, Briscoe and Lucas Taylor will make the Cal trip. He said Hancock has to start making plays. He mentioned Kenny O'Neal and Gerald Jones as potential travelers as well as Moore.

``I haven't narrowed it down yet, not completely,'' Taylor said.


Defensive coordinator John Chavis hesitated when asked what encouraged him about the scrimmage.

``It's hard to say,'' he said. ``We got the ball back a couple of times and had a couple of guys make good plays on interceptions. That's good to see.''

Interceptions were turned in by true freshman Eric Berry, who is making a push to start at one corner, and C. J. Fleming, who made a spectacular leaping pick on a deep route. Chavis has been particularly impressed with Berry.

``Some people have it, whatever it is,'' Chavis said. ``I don't know how to describe it, but he's got it. He's a super young man. He has the total package. And he's a guy that will make his presence known. He's a very talented young man and he'll show up a lot this year.''

Chavis said he's got a talented secondary, but he pointed out UT has just one senior back there, Jonathan Hefney.

``We've got some work to do,'' Chavis said of the backfield.

As for secondary depth, Chavis said: ``We're probably better than we've been in some of the past years, for sure.''

Chavis said the defense would have performed better had three of the top six linebackers – Ryan Karl, Adam Myers-White and Ellix Wilson – not been hurt. Karl and Wilson didn't scrimmage. Myers-White was hurt early and was limited.

EXTRA POINTS: Karl said he will be released for full contact Monday. Chavis said it wasn't necessary to work Karl on Saturday: ``He's played a lot of football. It's a lot more important for him to get well. We want to win in two weeks, not tonight.'' … Maybe father does know best. Craig Colquitt doesn't want son Britton Colquitt handling punting, kickoff and place-kicking duties. Britton injured his quadricep on his first kickoff and was done for the night. Chad Cunningham averaged 43.5 yards on 11 punts, but was inconsistent. Daniel Lincoln, trying to win the place-kicking duties, was five of eight on field goals – he missed three in a row at one stretch – and missed an extra point

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