Creer's statement

You don't have to be a big talker to make a statement, as one Tennessee tailback proved Saturday night.

Lennon Creer, a soft-spoken sophomore from Tatum, Texas, made a statement – figuratively, at least – during the Vols' second full-scale scrimmage of the preseason by rushing nine times for 70 yards. That's 65 yards more than he gained a week earlier on the same number of carries in Scrimmage No. 1.

Needless to say, Creer's performance was encouraging to the Vol staff, especially running backs coach Stan Drayton.

"Coach Drayton told us we needed to come out and make a statement, leave somebody talking about the running back group," Creer said. "I thought we did that."

Essentially, Creer's statement was that he's a much better back than his nine-carry, five-yard effort in Scrimmage No. 1 might suggest.

"The first (scrimmage) it was my first live contact," he said. "This time I just got good preparation, worked hard and I was ready for the scrimmage."

He was ready, all right. Creer knifed off right guard for seven yards on his first carry of the evening, then got nine more by bouncing outside on carry No. 2. After runs of four and seven yards, the 6-0, 210-pound sophomore showed a nice burst on a 22-yard ramble but fumbled due to a big hit by freshman linebacker Rod Wilks.

"Lennon's been getting better all fall," offensive coordinator Dave Clawson said. "He's a very dynamic player."

Creer is a much more dynamic player than speaker. Typically, he had little to say about his performance other than to praise his teammates.

"I just give all the credit to the O-line," he said. "They opened up some big holes. They played great. We've been practicing hard, and I feel like we were very focused. The offensive linemen had their mindset up."

Currently listed No. 3 at tailback, Creer is battling to overtake junior Montario Hardesty for the No. 2 spot while simultaneously battling to stave off freshman Tauren Poole. Creer says the competition is intense but friendly, noting: "We're all just competing as running backs to make each other better."

Good receiving skills are a must for tailbacks in Clawson's new West Coast offense. Creer caught just two passes for 13 yards in 2007 and has but one five-yard reception through the first two full-scale scrimmages of '08. Still, he believes he's a solid receiving option.

"I feel like I'm doing good catching the ball," he said, "and the quarterbacks do a good job of getting it to us."

Like many of his Vol teammates, Creer is just beginning to get familiar with Clawson's version of the West Coast offense. As his comfort level continues to rise, so will his production level.

"I like it," he said. "We've had it since spring, and the offense has gotten better each and every week.

"I think it's good because the running backs are going to be a big focal point for this offense. I know they're going to get us the ball."

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