In defense of the offense, most of the situational scrimmaging featured difficult down-and-distance situations.
"We did a lot of long third-down work," Lane Kiffin said. "It was third-and-6, 8 and 10 work, and I thought the defense played well. The offense needs to come out Saturday (in full-scale scrimmage No. 2) and have a big day."
After watching Vol running backs lose fumbles on the final two possessions of last Saturday's scrimmage, the head man is hoping to see improvement in that area in this weekend's game simulation.
"The No. 1 thing always when we come out here is to protect the ball," Kiffin said. "The last thing we ever want to do is turn it over. More important than anything we do in the program is taking care of it. That was disappointing to have some turnovers, especially (last) Saturday."
Thursday's practice highlights included:
- Nick Stephens showed a lot more zip and accuracy on his throws than he did Tuesday, his first day of full-speed work after recovering from a fractured right wrist. Stephens did not participate in a throwing-on-the-run drill, however.
- Sophomore tailback Tauren Poole, beaten by rising senior linebacker Rico McCoy on a blitz pickup drill, vented his frustration by roaring like a lion. McCoy has moved from weak side to strong side this spring, so he'll get more blitz opportunities.
- Junior defensive end Gerald Williams raced into the backfield on a pass rush and leaped so high that he batted down the throw with his elbow.
- After struggling with deep out routes in an earlier drill, Stephens found Gerald Jones with a 20-yard strike on that very route in full-speed 11-on-11 work.
- Moments after getting raves from running backs coach Eddie Gran for his route-running, senior tailback Montario Hardesty dropped a seven-yard would-be touchdown pass from Stephens.
- Coleman fired a laser-like strike to Gerald Jones for a 7-yard touchdown.
- Crompton completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Warren.
- McCoy made a diving deflection of a quick-out pass.
- Brandon Warren (6-1 and 218 pounds) appeared to get away with a push-off of cornerback Marsalous Johnson (5-9 and 184) a split second before reeling in a 40-yard touchdown pass.
WHO'S NUMBER ONE?
With senior tackle Wes Brown dinged up, mid-term freshman Montori Hughes got a lot of work with the first-team defense. Hughes played the tackle opposite senior Dan Williams. Other members of Thursday's No. 1 defense were: Ben Martin and Chris Walker at end, Rico McCoy, Herman Lathers and LaMarcus Thompson at linebacker, Stephaun Raines and C. J. Fleming at cornerback, Eric Berry and Art Evans at safety. Walk-on Minor Bowens, a 6-3, 293-pound transfer from Tennessee State, got a few snaps with the No. 1 defense at tackle. The second-team D-line consisted of Andre Mathis and Chase Nelson at tackle, Gerald Williams and Steven Fowlkes at end.