UT ground attack rolls

Tennessee put in roughly half of its running game last week before scrimmage No. 1. The Vols must've put in the half that works this week.

Buoyed by the return of No. 1 tailback Arian Foster, a ground game that was shut down last Saturday roared to life tonight.

One week after combining for just 37 yards on 26 carries in Scrimmage No. 1, Montario Hardesty, Lennon Creer and Tauren Poole combined for 120 in Scrimmage No. 2.

Creer, who had just five net yards on nine carries last week, finished with 70 yards on nine carries this time. Poole chipped in 38 yards on 14 rushes, with 34 of those yards coming on six carries against the No. 1 defense. Hardesty added 12 yards on five attempts. If you throw in Foster's 18 yards on three carries, UT's top four tailbacks combined for 138 yards on 31 attempts – an average of 4.45 per carry, up from a paltry 1.4 last week.

The obvious question: What was different in the run game between last Saturday and this Saturday?

"I think we just made a more concerted effort to run it today," offensive coordinator Dave Clawson said. "The scrimmage was a little bit longer. Last scrimmage we threw it a lot more and today we wanted to run it a little bit more.

"And I think our guys did a much better job executing it."

Although the blocking was significantly better than a week earlier, Tennessee's backs did a much better job of slipping would-be tackles and getting north/south in a hurry.

"We've got four good tailbacks here," Clawson noted, "and at some point this year we're probably going to need all of them. It's nice to have that depth.

"At the same time, like everybody who plays this game, there are still things they need to get better at."

Senior JaKouri Williams, the No. 5 tailback, chipped in 50 yards on six carries against third-team defenders.

Foster, who sat out last Saturday's workout with a minor leg injury, thought the biggest difference between Scrimmage 1 and Scrimmage 2 was that the run game was used more often and in more ways.

"We stuck with it a little more," he said. "We tried to make a statement. And we opened up the playbook a little bit more this week."

Offensive line coach Greg Adkins figured an assortment of factors contributed to the improved ground game.

"It's a number of different things," he said. "It's a little bit of execution probably, and I thought our backs did a nice job. I think every one of our backs has shown promise throughout this camp – each and every one of them."

With the running attack clicking, Tennessee's quarterbacks found more operating room in the passing game. First-teamer Jonathan Crompton completed 12 of 18 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Nick Stephens was just 5 of 11 for 48 yards with an interception but redshirt freshman B. J. Coleman connected on 15 of 24 throws for 170 yards.

Going against the No. 1 defense, Crompton directed a crisp 10-play, 71-yard touchdown drive on his first possession. The big plays were an 11-yard run and an 18-yard catch by Foster, a pass interference penalty on Dennis Rogan and an eight-yard TD strike from Crompton to Gerald Jones in traffic.

Jones led UT receivers in catches (6) and receiving yards (82) for the second week in a row. Quintin Hancock added three receptions for 43 yards, Ahmad Paige two for 43 yards and tight end Brandon Warren six for 41 yards.

Juco transfer Gerald Williams topped the tackle chart with 7 stops, 1 tackle for loss and 1 sack. Ellix Wilson added 6 tackles and a sack. Rico McCoy and Robert Ayers weighed in with 5 stops each.

Freshman Prentiss Waggner turned some heads with 4 tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception.

Chad Cunningham averaged 42.4 yards on punts and Daniel Lincoln nailed eight of nine field-goal tries. All of his attempts were between 35 and 49 yards.


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