Rushing woes no new development

This may come as a shock to Tennessee football fans, but the Vols' rushing woes are no recent development. Going back to Game 6 of 2001, the Big Orange has rushed for less than 100 yards seven times in the past 12 games.

After rushing for at least 139 yards in each of the first five games last fall, Tennessee slipped to 87 yards vs. South Carolina in Game 6 and 78 against Notre Dame in Game 7. The Vols got healthy against Memphis in Game 8 (218 rushing yards) but ran for just 82 against Kentucky. They ran effectively against Vanderbilt (189) and Florida (242), but came up empty against LSU in the SEC Championship Game (50 yards) and against Michigan in the Citrus Bowl (97 yards).

So, the fact Tennessee has rushed for less than 100 yards in two of the first four games this fall is merely the continuation of a trend which started last October.

After watching UT gain a paltry 94 rushing yards against lowly Rutgers last Saturday, a lot of Big Orange fans are asking: What's happened to Tennessee's ground game?

''Everybody's saying that but the first half we only had the ball 17 plays, and the times we did run it we had good gains,'' Vol guard Sean Young said. ''The first two plays of the game (gains of 19 and 13) we averaged 16 yards. The second half we didn't run that much because we were behind and started throwing.''

Fortunately for the Vols, they're a lot better at throwing the ball than they are at running it. Casey Clausen passed for 258 yards in the second half, rallying the Vols from a 14-7 halftime deficit to a 35-14 victory. Still, fans are concerned by UT's inability to muster a ground attack.

''That's people being critics, saying we don't run enough,'' Young said. ''But we've got a Heisman-type quarterback in Casey Clausen, who can throw it, so we don't have to run it much.

''It ain't the old Tennessee, where you have to run, run, run. It's just like when Peyton was here. Yeah, we had great runners, but they also threw a lot, too. I'm pretty sure they had games where they didn't rush very good and had to throw the ball a lot.''

Regardless, here's a game-by-game recap of Tennessee's rushes and rushing yards:

2001 SEASON

Syracuse 39 for 197
Arkansas 55 for 183
LSU 49 for 139
Georgia 42 for 197
Alabama 45 for 187
S.Carolina 39 for 87
N.Dame 34 for 78
Memphis 43 for 218
Kentucky 23 for 82
Vanderbilt 35 for 189
Florida 31 for 242
LSU 18 for 50
Michigan 37 for 97

2002 SEASON

Wyoming 42 for 188
MTSU 31 for 137
Florida 33 for 99
Rutgers 23 for 94


Inside Tennessee Top Stories