Interceptions, sacks mar scrimmage

Tennessee's scholarship quarterbacks had offensive coordinator Dave Clawson alternately smiling and frowning with their performance in Saturday's second full-scale scrimmage of the spring.

Junior Jonathan Crompton (10 of 18, 108 yards, 1 TD), sophomore Nick Stephens (9 of 14, 92 yards) and redshirt freshman B. J. Coleman (12 of 18, 63 yards, 1 TD) combined to complete 31 of 50 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns.

That's the good news.

The trio also combined for four sacks and four interceptions. The four sacks matched Tennessee's 14-game total for the entire 2007 season.

"We want ‘em to throw the football quickly," Clawson said. "The quarterbacks have to have an internal clock (telling them it's time to unload) and we need to get quicker than we are."

Still, the coordinator said the QBs were not solely responsible for the sack problem that surfaced during the two-hour scrimmage.

"Sacks can be the result of a number of things," Clawson said. "It can be the quarterback holding onto the ball too long. It can be an offensive lineman missing a block. It can be a back missing a block. It can be a breakdown in protection. It can be a receiver running a wrong route.

"Until you identify why the sacks are occurring, it's hard to say THIS is the problem."

Head coach Phillip Fulmer also spread the blame a bit.

"Sacks and interceptions … that's not usually just the quarterback," he said. "It's usually the line, the receivers, the quarterback. It's everybody together, and I think everybody has accountability in that."

Crompton threw three of the interceptions. On two of them, however, his receiver slipped down on the rain-soaked turf, leaving the defensive back with an unimpeded shot at the ball.

"The receiver's got to stay on his feet, and we have to minimize the number of times that happens," Clawson said. "You determine an open window, and you need a guy to be there. By the same token, there's times the quarterbacks forced the ball in there that they shouldn't have. Those things are going to happen but you hope to minimize that."

The ground attack – a no-show last Saturday in scrimmage No. 1 – looked better today. Senior Arian Foster averaged 5.0 yards per carry (nine rushes, 45 yards) and broke a 19-yard ramble. The Vols didn't get a whole lot out of his backups, however. Lennon Creer (8 for 15), Daryl Vereen (6 for 2 net yards) and Tauren Poole (8 for 9) combined for just 26 yards on 22 carries).

"I thought it looked a little bit better today than it did last week," Clawson said of the ground attack, "but it's not where it needs to be … and we knew that coming in."

Defensively, safety Demetrice Morley led with 6 tackles and a blocked field goal. Linebacker Nick Reveiz added 6 stops, including 2 tackles for loss. Walk-on cornerback Derrick Furlow contributed 6 tackles and 2 pass breakups. Safety Eric Berry and linebacker LaMarcus Thompson chipped in 5 stops each. Redshirt freshman safety Anthony Anderson contributed 4 tackles, a tackle for loss and a spectacular diving interception. Defensive back DeAngelo Willingham registered 3 tackles and 2 interceptions. Linebacker Adam Myers-White made a statement with 3 tackles, a sack and 2 pass breakups. End Robert Ayers recorded 3 tackles for loss, including 2 sacks. Cornerback Dennis Rogan had an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Redshirt freshman Ahmad Paige led all pass receivers with 73 yards on seven catches. Tight end Luke Stocker added 62 yards on two catches, including a 55-yard gainer. Quintin Hancock (three catches for 44 yards), Josh Briscoe (four for 40) and Tyler Maples (two for 42) also had productive afternoons.

Asked to pinpoint the biggest offensive improvement from Scrimmage No. 1 to Scrimmage No. 2, Clawson replied:

"I thought we moved the ball with a little more consistency. But we've got to take care of the football better. If there's a theme from this scrimmage it's that we didn't take care of the football. That can't happen if you're going to play winning football."


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