Little things hurting run game

Fortunately for head coach Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee's ground game looked a little better on tape than it did live in last Saturday's full-scale scrimmage.

First-team tailback Arian Foster had a strong outing with 9 carries for 45 yards but backups Lennon Creer (8 for 15), Daryl Vereen (6 for 2) and Tauren Poole (8 for 9) combined for just 26 yards on 22 carries. After breaking down the film, Fulmer said the problems were pretty basic.

"It was here and there," he said. "It's a block at the point of attack ... it's a backside block ... it's not picking up a stunt by a young player or even an older player ... it's little inconsistencies here and there."

Little inconsistencies are to be expected in spring practice. They're a lot easier to correct than major problems - getting whipped upfront or backs hitting the wrong hole, for instance. The inconsistency Fulmer saw on film is not cause for alarm.

"I do think it will improve as we go along," he said. "Plus, our defense is challenging 'em pretty good. When you start putting eight and nine people in the box it gets difficult."

Although efficiency was lacking in UT's ground game last Saturday, Fulmer said effort was not. He thought the offensive players gave their all, even though the results were not always indicative.

"The good thing I saw was really good effort," he said. "We got a lot of plays in. We got a lot of looks at what we're trying to do."

Tennessee did some situational scrimmaging in Tuesday's practice – mostly coming off the goal line and going in from the Orange Area. Fulmer saw some positives.

"We got the ball off the goal line twice, which was really good for the (offensive) group," he said.

Still, the head man is hoping to see a much more productive ground attack when the Vols hold full-scale scrimmage No. 3 this Saturday.

"We've still got to run the football better," he said. "We just absolutely have to do that. And we have to take care of the ball better. You can't give up five sacks, not run the ball and turn it over seven times total and call it a good scrimmage."

On a positive note, two unheralded members of Tennessee's much-maligned defensive tackle corps earned some praise from the boss for their work in last Saturday's scrimmage.

"Victor Thomas and Chase Nelson were playing fast for a change," Fulmer said. "They haven't really done that. They showed they could possibly play in the Southeastern Conference."

The head man also singled out sophomore linebacker Savion Frazier for "playing fast" and mid-term freshman tailback Tauren Poole for "being out there and showing he could play in this league. He also did a nice job today."

Poole is earning brownie points by practicing despite a slight tear of the miniscus in one knee. He may undergo a surgical procedure to repair it once spring practice ends.

"He's showing some toughness out there, fighting through that," Fulmer said. "Sometimes they can (fight through it) and sometimes it's painful enough that they can't. He's fighting through it pretty good right now."

Even if Poole opts for surgery, he should be healed well before the Vols re-assemble in August for the start of preseason drills. Fulmer said recovery time for the surgery is three to four weeks.


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