Vol D at 'championship level'

A good motto for Tennessee's 2009 defense might be "Pick your poison."

Ripped by their coach after throwing four interceptions in Thursday's practice, Vol quarterbacks were determined to take better care of the ball in Friday's scrimmage. The result? Eight sacks. The swarming Vol defense also registered seven other tackles for loss in an imposing performance at Neyland Stadium.

"We have a style that we want to be as a team, and our first defense understands that," head coach Lane Kiffin said. "Our coaches are doing a great job over there. The defense goes out there every time thinking there is no way the other team is going to get a yard. I love where we're at that way."

The No. 1 defense was especially dominant, recording seven of the sacks with one of them producing a safety.

"That 1 defense is a special unit," Kiffin said. "It's a special huddle. You feel their confidence. That's what you need your team to be. When you eventually get your whole team that way, you become a champion.

"Our first defense is operating at a championship level right now."

Junior defensive back Derrick Furlow led with 8 tackles, followed by linebackers Nick Reveiz (7) and Rico McCoy (6). End Chris Walker recorded three minus-yardage stops (two of them sacks). Freshman tackle Montori Hughes added two minus-yardage stops (one a sack) and Reveiz also registered two minus-yardage stops.

Though he was the victim on seven of the sacks – one resulting in a lost fumble and one in a safety – No. 1 quarterback Jonathan Crompton was reasonably efficient. He completed 8 of 11 passes for 91 yards.

"I thought Jonathan did really well," Kiffin said. "He moved around well and made some plays. I think he's got a shot to be pretty good."

The head man also had kind words for No. 2 quarterback B. J. Coleman, who completed 11 of 16 passes for 151 yards, with scoring passes of 30 yards to wideout Denarius Moore and 14 yards to tight end Ben Bartholomew.

"B.J. did really good that last series," Kiffin said, "He made some plays when things weren't there."

Junior QB Nick Stephens, seeing his first scrimmage action of the spring coming off a fractured right wrist, completed 2 of 4 passes for 28 yards and a touchdown. He had a potential 20-yard completion dropped.

The busiest receiver was fullback-turned-tight end Ben Bartholomew, who caught 4 balls for 53 yards. Wideout Quintin Hancock continued his excellent spring with three catches for 51 yards. Receivers Gerald Jones (3 receptions for 36 yards) and Austin Rogers (3 for 31) also had productive days.

Sophomore tailback Tauren Poole led the rushers with 80 yards on 11 carries, showing exceptional vision and acceleration on bursts of 24 and 21 yards. He did, however, lose a fumble that appeared unforced.

Senior tailback Montario Hardesty had eight rushes for 38 yards, with 18 of those coming on his first carry. Hardesty also is providing a role model for the younger Vols.

"I think he is really one of the leaders of our team," Kiffin said. "He has done everything that we ask. He comes out here every single day with the same attitude. He loves playing ball, he studies, keeps his mouth shut and he goes to work."

Mid-term freshman Toney Williams, who burned the No. 2 defense for 84 yards on 14 carries last Saturday, got some work against the No. 1 defense today and finished with 30 yards on 14 carries.

Defensive tackle Wes Brown and tight end Jeff Cottam were sidelined with knee injuries but no new injuries were sustained during the scrimmage.

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