Hardesty's hard on Cal

Montario Hardesty said he was tired of talking about his 43-yard touchdown run in last year's Cal game ... but the big grin on his face suggested otherwise.

"It was a good run – probably my best run last year – so a lot of people are always saying something about it," Tennessee's sophomore tailback said earlier this week. "But it's a new year and I'm healthy, so I'm going to try and make some more plays this year. That was last year."

Ignoring Hardesty's desire to change the subject, a reporter asked what that touchdown run in the 2006 opener meant to Hardesty, who had missed virtually all of 2005 due to a knee injury.

"It was my first touchdown, my first game back from being injured," Hardesty said, smiling broadly. "My family was there and saw me. It was a big thing and it helped our team win. But that was last year, like I said."

This time another reporter chimed in, asking if that TD run was the highlight of Hardesty's college career.

"I guess scoring four in a row (TDs in consecutive games) was better than that," he replied. "But it was all right."

Unfortunately for Hardesty, Game 1 was the only time he was healthy in 2006. Although he played in all 13 games, he battled an assortment of injuries in Games 2-13.

"After that game I felt good, but then the nagging injuries came," he said. "I was a little frustrated with that but this year I'm feeling good, so I ain't worried about injuries."

Hardesty isn't worried about the Vols' new no-huddle offense, either. He thought the players picked it up quickly in the spring and continued to make progress with it during fall camp.

"We've been doing it all spring and all fall and doing good," he said. "We haven't been jumping offsides or anything like that. I think it's a good way to control the pace of the game ... try to make them (defenders) go our speed and make adjustments, things like that. I'm confident in it."

With LaMarcus Coker suspended for Saturday night's rematch with Cal, Hardesty is the only experienced backup to Arian Foster. As a result, Tennessee's coaches limited Hardesty's carries in preseason scrimmages. He carried five times for 14 yards in the first and five times for 30 yards in the second. With the first-team offense playing just two series in Scrimmage No. 3, he carried one time for 3 yards and turned a short pass into a 20-yard gain.

The lack of work annoyed Hardesty at first but he eventually moved past it.

"At one little time there I was a little frustrated but I got over that," he said. "I wasn't mad at the coaches or anything like that. As camp went on – the second scrimmage – I got a lot more work. Then the next Tuesday scrimmage I got some good work.

"I'm real healthy coming out of camp, so I guess it worked out good."


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