Praise for UT offense

When the offense controls a scrimmage the way Tennessee's did this weekend, the defensive coaches tend to get ... well, defensive.

That wasn't the case Saturday at Neyland Stadium, however. Rather than focus on things their troops did poorly, Vol defensive coaches felt more inclined to compliment the offensive players for the things they did well.

"We had some really nice stops and we were hitting," defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said, "but I think our offensive line has gotten better. That's good for us.

"Early, I didn't think they could run the ball that well but they stuck with it. We have a good running game but at times we (defense) didn't play it well. There were some big breakouts. At times it would be second-and-11 and the next play would be a first down."

Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron also saluted the offensive unit. He thought the blockers, in particular, deserved a lot of credit for the attack unit's strong showing.

"There's no doubt. I think those guys are working hard," he said. "I think they have a great scheme and we have a pretty good offense."

The offense certainly looked better than it did a week earlier. Last Saturday's scrimmage at Haslam Field was dominated by the defense. Thus, the progress UT's offense has made since then is noteworthy.

"Compared to last Saturday I feel like we really stepped our game up on the offensive line," senior center Josh McNeil said following Saturday's scrimmage. "In meetings this morning the coaches challenged us, and I feel we stepped up to the challenge.

"Obviously, there's things we didn't do well and need to work on, but I was proud of the way we came out here, tried to be physical and take the attack to the defense. I think we did a pretty good job of that."

The blockers managed to "take the attack to the defense," all right. That's why Vol defensive coaches praised the offense, rather than criticizing the defense.

"I think the defensive work was good," Orgeron said. "But we ain't played nobody yet, so we've got to keep on getting better."

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