Vanilla Vols

Fifty thousand Tennessee football fans were so eager to erase the bad taste left by last fall's 5-7 record that even vanilla schemes did the trick Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Brandon Warren caught a couple of short touchdown passes as a limited White offense outscored an even more limited Orange defense 41-23 before 51,488 rabid supporters who didn't seem to mind the restrictions.

Knowing the intrasquad game was being taped by SportSouth for airing Sunday evening at 6 EDT, Vol head coach Lane Kiffin said Tennessee used "probably 20 percent" of its offense and played mostly base defense.

"The scrimmage was set up for the offense a little bit because we didn't want to show very much," Kiffin said. "The game is obviously going to be rerun on TV, and that's a powerful (scouting) tool for our opponents, especially early in the year.

"Our defense was very vanilla and our offense was very vanilla today. When you do that, it does help the offense."

The offense, dominated by the defense much of the spring, took advantage of the help. The White scores came on a five-yard Montario Hardesty run, a nine-yard pass from B. J. Coleman to Warren, field goals of 44 and 37 yards by Ethan Ingham, a five-yard pass from Nick Stephens to Warren, a four-yard pass from Coleman to Quintin Hancock and a 16-yard pass from Jonathan Crompton to Austin Rogers. The White squandered 10 more potential points because Coleman had a 10-yard TD pass to Denarius Moore nullified by an ineligible-receiver penalty and Daniel Lincoln missed a 30-yard field goal try.

The defensive points were the product of a scoring system instituted just for this scrimmage. The Orange got five points for a Rico McCoy interception and 18 points for stopping the offense six times at three points per stop.

Kiffin said he was "real excited" that the scrimmage produced only one turnover. He added that McCoy's interception of a Crompton pass that hit him right in the hands "wasn't Jonathan's fault.... We kind of broke something a little bit different."

Crompton, facing mostly first-team defenders, completed 14 of 27 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. Coleman, facing mostly second-team defenders, was 13 of 22 for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Stephens, facing mostly second- and third-teamers, was 11 of 21 for 131 yards and one TD.

"I thought they protected the ball well," Kiffin said. "They seemed to make good decisions for the most part. They moved us in and out of the huddle. There were not very many penalties on offense, which was good to see. A lot of times you get in these (scrimmage) settings and you have a bunch of fumbled snaps or a bunch of false starts, so I'm very pleased with them today."

The head man said the fact Coleman's passing stats were compiled against reserve defenders, whereas Crompton's were compiled against first-teamers had no effect on assessing their performances.

"It's pretty easy because of the variables on the other side of it," Kiffin said. "We don't go 1s vs. 2s or 1s vs. 3s. Even though you can say, 'He has to go against the 1 defense,' he also gets the 1 receivers and running backs and offensive line. Most times it usually evens out."

Mid-term freshman Toney Williams led all rushers with 78 yards on 13 carries (6.0 per carry). Sophomore Tauren Poole picked up 78 on 18 attempts (4.3 per try). Senior Montario Hardesty had 45 yards on 11 rushes (4.1 per carry).

Quintin Hancock, tabbed Most Improved Offensive Player of spring practice two days earlier, led all receivers with 96 yards on eight catches. Warren added 50 yards on four grabs. Denarius Moore contributed 47 on three and tight end Luke Stocker 31 on three.

All told, the offenses put together eight drives of 50 yards or more.

Crompton directed six possessions, leading touchdown drives of 66 and 70 yards. He also guided a 69-yard drive that ended when Poole was stonewalled on fourth and goal at the 1-yard line.

Coleman directed three possessions, putting points on the board each time. He led a 75-yard TD march, a 78-yard drive to a field goal and closed with an 80-yard TD drive.

Stephens directed six possessions. The best were a 23-yard drive to a field goal, a 50-yard march to a TD and a 52-yard drive that ended with Lincoln's missed field goal.

"There were some lengthy drives, and that was good to see," Kiffin noted. "That's what happens when you don't turn the ball over.... We made good decisions. We didn't punt in the first half."

Still, the head man emphasized that the schematic restrictions he placed on the defenses had considerable impact on the scrimmage's outcome.

"They were only allowed to play two defenses," said Kiffin, who called the offensive plays all day, "so I kind of knew the answers to the test.

"Our defense is going to be really good," he added. "Don't let today make you think anything different about our defense. We're going to have a great defense."

The head man also expresses optimism about the team as a whole, even though it is nowhere near ready to face a Florida, a Georgia or an Alabama.

"I'm pleased with our guys," Kiffin said. "At the same time, we've got a long ways to go. We have a lot of work to do. We're a long, long ways from where we need to be, so we'll go back to work on Monday."


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