Offense shows spark

When the first three plays of Tennessee's Saturday scrimmage resulted in a 12-yard run by Arian Foster, plus Jonathan Crompton completions of 10 yards to Luke Stocker and 15 yards to Foster, the offense appeared to be on fire.

Then a false-start penalty against guard Vladimir Richard doused the flames. Crompton overthrew his next two passes, with the second one being intercepted and returned 21 yards by redshirt freshman Anthony Anderson.

That first series was pretty indicative of the entire scrimmage: Some good plays by the offense, a few big plays by the defense and several positive developments for Phillip Fulmer to ponder.

"We got exactly out of the scrimmage what we wanted to," the head man said following a 2½-hour workout at wind-swept Neyland Stadium. "It was a long, extended scrimmage with some live work for the quarterbacks without the green (no-contact) shirt. That obviously put a priority on the protection and doing a good job with that. That was productive."

So was Crompton, who overcame his rocky start to complete 17 of 22 passes for 146 yards. He also rushed for 19 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore backup Nick Stephens (10 of 15, 69 yards, 2 TDs) also had a good day but redshirt freshman B. J. Coleman (7 of 19, 41 yards, 1 interception) struggled a bit.

Foster continued his fine spring with 38 rushing yards on just seven carries. Second-team tailback Lennon Creer added 47 yards on 10 carries and mid-term freshman Tauren Poole made a statement with 45 yards on 17 carries.

Gerald Jones led the receivers with 55 yards on seven catches. Quintin Hancock added 41 yards on seven grabs, fullback Kevin Cooper 32 yards on three receptions and tight end Luke Stocker 29 yards on four catches.

Although the offense showed much more spark than in the two previous scrimmages, the defense again produced its share of eye-catching plays.

Linebacker Rico McCoy picked off a Coleman pass and returned it 53 yards to the 2-yard line. Tackle Dan Williams recorded 5 stops, a sack, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup. End Robert Ayers registered 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss and a pair of pass breakups. Fellow end Wes Brown also recorded 2 sacks. Sophomore linebacker Savion Frazier and walk-on cornerback Derrick Furlow registered 13 stops and two tackles for loss apiece.

Ironically, one of the biggest defensive plays of the day was turned in by two offensive players. Denarius Moore blocked a Chad Cunningham punt and fellow wideout Gerald Jones returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. Cunningham finished with a 40-yard average on six punts.

Kicker Daniel Lincoln, seemingly unaffected by swirling winds, hit five of six field-goal tries, with a long of 42 yards.

In addition to the interceptions recorded by McCoy and Anderson, the defense nearly had two more. Ayers dropped a ball that hit him in the hands, as did cornerback Dennis Rogan.

"I thought the defense again got their hands on too many balls but that's a plus from their standpoint," Fulmer said, noting that McCoy's interception was "a heck of a play."

The head man noted that his team is "fragmented with injuries and some academic things" and "we haven't been able to put it all together to this point."

Fulmer thought Crompton had a very good day overall but was "hard-headed" on the interception, even though Stocker was guilty of "misreading the coverage and running the wrong route" on the play.

"Luke's mistake ended up making Jonathan make a mistake," the head man added, noting that: "A mature quarterback is going to pull that one down, find another receiver or scramble for three or four yards.

"That's what I told him later: Don't let somebody else's mistake make you make a mistake because you've got your hands on the football."


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