Running behind the first-team line against the No. 1 defense, Poole carried six times for 34 yards, including a 21-yard jaunt on which he broke at least three would-be tackles. Running behind the second-team line thereafter, he carried seven times for just three net yards and finished with 37 yards on 13 carries.
The performance encouraged offensive coordinator Dave Clawson but it didn't surprise him. The Vol aide knows that Poole is no ordinary freshman.
"Tauren is just one of those guys that gets it. He understands it," Clawson said. "He's got a real maturity to him. He's a yes-sir, no-sir type of guy and a very serious football player."
He's also a very bright football player. Poole made Georgia's academic all-state team as a senior one year ago and shows a high football IQ, as well.
"He has learned the offense quickly, and he's got maturity beyond a true freshman," Clawson said. "The benefit of coming in in January helped him but he's just a serious football player that has a sense of purpose to him that makes him fun to coach."
With the Sept. 1 opener at UCLA less than two weeks away, Clawson plans to scale back Tennessee's attack and zero in on the plays Poole and the rest of the Vols will rely on in Game 1.
"I think it's important now that we start shrinking the offense a little bit and narrowing down what we're going to do against UCLA," the coordinator said. "We've put a lot in.
"We've done a lot of different things out of a lot of different formations, and I think the thing I look forward to is now you start prepping for a game and you get a confined offense ready that the guys can go sink their teeth into."
Tennessee's players did a pretty good job sinking their teeth into the offense Saturday night. Tailbacks Arian Foster (3 carries, 18 yards), Lennon Creer (9 carries, 70 yards), Montario Hardesty (5 carries, 12 yards) and Poole (13 carries, 37 yards) combined for 137 yards on 31 rushes, an average of 4.45 yards per attempt. Meanwhile, quarterbacks Jonathan Crompton (12 of 18, 101 yards), Nick Stephens (5 of 11, 48) and B. J. Coleman (15 of 24, 170) combined to complete 32 of 53 passes for 319 yards. Except for a Creer fumble and a Stephens interception, the offenses executed reasonably well and reasonably mistake-free.
"It's a slow process offensively," Foster said. "You've got to be a well-oiled machine but we're coming along."