Defense Shines In Vols First Scrimmage of the Preseason

August 11, 2007

Knoxville -- Tennessee’s first full scrimmage of 2007 was offense early and defense down the stretch during Saturday’s action at Neyland Stadium.

The Vols offense broke from the gate and marched 68 yards in 15 plays for an opening-drive touchdown. Thereafter, flashes of brilliance could be seen but mostly on the defensive side of the football to the tune of 13 sacks and three interceptions.

“I’ve been out here when the offense didn’t make a first down, so Coach (John) Chavis won’t be happy about that (opening score),” head coach Phillip Fulmer said. “We’ll have a chance to coach the defense up and see what was going on with that, but afterward I thought the defense looked pretty good.”

Defensive end Andre Mathis led all tacklers with seven stops and matched tackle Dan Williams’ effort of four sacks. Linebackers Jerod Mayo and Dorian Davis added six tackles apiece to join safety Nevin McKenzie in that department.

“I saw some good things on both sides of the ball,” Fulmer said. “We made a conscious effort to give some individual players opportunities to see where they are. And for the most part, we made some progress.

“The truth of it is if we will take this film and have great energy, enthusiasm and desire to improve from it, then we will be a better football team as we go along.

Junior tailback Arian Foster ran hard from the opening bell, carrying 13 times overall for 47 yards and a 1-yard touchdown. Freshman Lennon Creer added 84 yards on 11 tries and Daryl Vereen chipped in 41 yards on 13 attempts.

Quarterback Erik Ainge completed 9-of-17 pass attempts for 70 yards with two interceptions. Jonathan Crompton was 11-of-16 for 93 yards and an interception, while Nick Stephens finished 4-of-7 for 94 yards and a 60-yard TD strike to junior receiver Kenny O’Neal.

The Vols worked diligently on special teams, including kickoffs from the 30-yard-line in preparation for this season’s rule change. Britton Colquitt punted twice for a 43-yard average, made 4-of-6 field goals including a 51-yarder and boomed four of his five kickoff attempts to at least the 1-yard line.

On an injury note, linebackers Ryan Karl (back) and Ellix Wilson (knee) were held out of Saturday’s scrimmage. Fulmer also reported that senior tight end David Holbert suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Friday’s practice and will miss the entire 2007 season.

“That’s disappointing for us; he has done really well,” Fulmer said of the Nashville native. “Fortunately, David has a redshirt year left and we had discussed such a redshirt scenario because we have two other seniors at that position in Chris Brown and Brad Cottam. Now he has to take it and have a tremendous attitude about his rehab and we will have him back next year. It’s a plus if he makes it a plus and I hope he will.”

Offensive Starters: C Josh McNeil, OT Chris Scott and Eric Young, OG Ramon Foster and Anthony Parker, TE Chris Brown and Brad Cottam, WR Austin Rogers and Lucas Taylor, TB Arian Foster, QB Erik Ainge.

Defensive Starters: DE Xavier Mitchell and Antonio Reynolds, DT J.T. Mapu and Demonte Bolden, LB Rico McCoy, Jerod Mayo and Adam Myers-White, CB Marsalous Johnson and Antonio Gaines, S Jonathan Hefney and Jarod Parrish.

Rushing Leaders (Att.-Yds.-TD): Arian Foster 13-47-1; Daryl Vereen 13-41-0; Lennon Creer 11-84-0; Josh Hawkins 7-16-0; Roy Olasimbo 6-25-0; Montario Hardesty 5-14-0.

Passing Leaders (Att.-Comp.-Int.-Yds.-TD): Jonathan Crompton 16-11-1-93-0; Erik Ainge 17-9-2-70-0; Nick Stephens 7-4-0-94-1.

Receiving Leaders (No.-Yds.-TD): Jeff Cottam 4-16-0; Gerald Jones 3-45-0; Lucas Taylor 3-28-0; Kenny O’Neal 2-64-1; Quintin Hancock 2-33-0; Luke Stocker 2-8-0.

Defensive Leaders: Andre Mathis 7 tackles, 4 sacks (-28); Jerod Mayo 6 tackles, 1 sack (-4); Dorian Davis 6 tackles, 1 PBU; Nevin McKenzie 6 tackles; Dan Williams 5 tackles, 4 sacks (-17); Antonio Gaines 3 tackles, 1 sack (-7), 1 interception; Marsalous Johnson 3 tackles, 1 PBU; Robert Ayers 3 tackles, 2 TFL (-7), 1 sack (-6); Rico McCoy 3 tackles; Art Evans 3 tackles; Jonathan Hefney 3 tackles; Chris Walker 3 tackles; Walter Fisher 3 tackles; Demonte Bolden 3 tackles; Eric Berry 2 tackles, 1 interception; Jarod Parrish 2 tackles, 1 PBU; Savion Frazier 2 tackles, 1 TFL (-2); Antonio Reynolds 2 tackles, 1 sack (-7); Ben Martin 2 tackles, 2 PBU; Chase Nelson 2 tackles, 1 sack (-6); DeAngelo Willingham 1 tackle, 1 interception.

Punting Leaders (No.-Avg.-Long): Britton Colquitt 2-43.0-44; Chad Cunningham 9-37.0-53.

Field Goal Leaders: Daniel Lincoln 4-of-7, long 51; Britton Colquitt 4-of-6, long 51.

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