Creer shines in Vol romp

The official mourning period for former Tennessee tailback LaMarcus Coker ended with 2:28 left in the third quarter of Saturday's Homecoming game with Louisiana-Lafayette.

That's when freshman Lennon Creer, who joined the Vols' three-man tailback rotation when Coker was dismissed from the team on Friday, bounced an off-tackle play to the outside, eluded a trio of defenders and raced 30 yards for a touchdown on his first carry of the evening.

Creer, a 6-1, 205-pounder from Tatum, Texas, continued to make yards and believers in the fourth quarter, finishing with 109 yards on just seven carries – an average of 15.6 yards per rush – as the Vols routed the Ragin' Cajuns 59-7.

First-team tailback Arian Foster, who produced 100 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, was not surprised by his understudy's performance.

"We already knew Lennon could play," Foster said. "He just had guys in front of him."

Now that Coker is no longer in front of him, Creer should get a lot more carries as the No. 3 tailback behind Foster and Montario Hardesty.

"Lennon Creer obviously is a talent," head coach Phillip Fulmer said. "He did a great job. He looks like a guy that certainly can continue to help us."

Ironically, Creer suffered a knee injury last weekend vs. South Carolina that threatened to end his season prematurely. He made a nice recovery during the week, however, and was ready when his big chance arrived on Saturday.

"A week ago we were concerned over whether he was going to get to play any more this season or not," Fulmer said. "But he's a tough guy."

Freshman receivers Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore had good games, too. Jones caught two passes for 10 yards and carried twice for 20 yards and a touchdown as a direct-snap tailback. Moore caught four passes for 36 yards. Another rookie, cornerback Dennis Rogan, recorded six tackles and returned a kickoff 25 yards.

"It was good to see the young players get a chance to play and play so well," Fulmer said.

Basically, Saturday's mismatch had one brief moment of suspense. With Tennessee leading 17-0, ULL appeared to be driving for a touchdown late in the second quarter. On second-and-eight at the Vol 26-yard line, however, a Michael Desormeaux pass bounced off the fingers of Jason Chery and into the arms of Tennessee defensive end Antonio Reynolds, who lumbered 70 yards to paydirt. That 14-point swing turned a potential 17-7 halftime lead into a 24-0 halftime lead and sealed the deal.

"As we practice every day, I just pursued to the ball," Reynolds explained. "I pursued, looked the ball into my hands and took off."

Reynolds, a 6-3, 270-pounder, used a nifty side-step to elude Desormeaux at the ULL 37-yard line and went the rest of the way with a convoy of Vol teammates escorting him.

"He (Desormeaux) was coming from my left side, so I was thinking he was going to try and take my legs out," Reynolds said. "I figured I'd slow down a little bit, try to do a little move."

The Ragin' Cajuns (1-8) scored on their first possession of the second half but Tennessee (6-3) found the end zone on all four of its second-half possessions to win handily.

Senior quarterback Erik Ainge had a quiet evening, completing 16 of 23 passes for 125 yards. Backup Jonathan Crompton was 3 of 4 for 68 yards and directed three TD drives. One of his completions was a 49-yard TD strike to Kenny O'Neal, who made just his second catch of the season.

"Jonathan made a great throw to Kenny," Fulmer noted, "and that has to help Kenny's confidence."

Tennessee dominated on the scoreboard but not on the stat sheet. The Vols gained 466 yards but allowed 364. They rang up 29 first downs but allowed 24. Moreover, the Cajuns won the time of possession, 32:39 to 27:21.

Ultimately, Tennessee romped because of its perfection in the red zone (5 for 5) and because of ULL's glaring imperfection in several areas. Besides Reynolds' interception return for a TD, the Ragin Cajuns surrendered another gift score on a punt that was blocked by Nevin McKenzie and returned 20 yards by Antonio Wardlow.

Whipping up on a weak opponent made for a nice Homecoming weekend but Tennessee's players and coaches know they will be severely tested by Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Kentucky the next three weekends.

"I'd say this was a complete win," Fulmer noted, "but we've got a lot bigger fish to fry."

Essentially, Louisiana-Lafayette was a minnow.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories