Run blocking improves

When the top three healthy tailbacks rushed for just 37 yards on 26 carries Aug. 9 in Tennessee's first full-scale scrimmage, many fans assumed the 2008 offensive line – like its 2007 predecessor – will excel at pass protection but struggle with drive blocking.

Maybe not.

The big uglies upfront opened some nice holes in Scrimmage No. 2, enabling Arian Foster, Montario Hardesty, Lennon Creer and Tauren Poole to rush 31 times for a combined 137 yards, an average of 4.45 yards per rush.

Those numbers don't have line coach Greg Adkins doing handstands but they do have him smiling a lot as he looks ahead to Scrimmage No. 3 this afternoon at Neyland Stadium.

"I think the more they play together, the better we're going to be," he said. "It looked like there were some good things that happened (in Scrimmage No. 2) but there will be a million things to learn from, from the problems our defense presents us."

Although Tennessee's offensive line had to be embarrassed by the whipping it took from the defensive line in Scrimmage No. 1, Adkins downplayed the redemption angle.

"You should make the most progress from the first to the second scrimmage," he said. "I thought we had a good week of practice, period."

The O-line is the most experienced are of Tennessee's team. Chris Scott, Anthony Parker, Josh McNeil and Ramon Foster started all 14 games last fall, while Jacques McClendon started the last six. Adkins believes the top reserves – Vladimir Richard at guard, Ramone Johnson at tackle and Cody Sullins at center – can be counted upon, as well.

"You've got the combination of Parker, Vlad and McClendon at guard, then you've got Cody Sullins, who has shown he can compete against anybody," Adkins said. "And I think Ramone Johnson has made a step in the right direction. It seemed like he played pretty well."


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