KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- Highlighted by a pair of 10-plus play drives from the first-team offense, Tennessee held its third scrimmage of the preseason Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium.
“We made a lot of progress,” head coach Derek Dooley said. “I think the guys were focused, ready to go and treated it pretty seriously, as they should have. I was pleased with that. We still have a long way to go, especially in the situational part of the game. That’s what I’m most concerned about. It takes us a little while to process what’s happening. I think that’s a sign of youth. I think we’re making progress. Our legs are heavy as they should be. Recovery will be on the way, but it’s not here yet. Good day.”
A pair of runs totaling 21 yards from senior tailback Tauren Poole kick-started Tennessee’s opening drive. Faced with a third down, sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray found sophomore wide receiver Justin Hunter for his lone reception of the day, a 28-yarder.
Wrapping up a 10-play, 57-yard drive, sophomore placekicker Michael Palardy converted a 37-yard field goal for UT’s first score of the day.
The first-team offense returned to the field with the daunting task of beginning at its own 1-yard line, but Bray commanded a 16-play, 99-yard drive that featured a perfect 4-for-4 third-down success rate. Completing 6-of-8 passes for 75 yards on the march, Bray connected with six different receivers, including five completions that converted third downs.
Bray’s second drive of the day saw completions to sophomore tight end Mychal Rivera (nine yards), sophomore wideout Da’Rick Rogers (10 yards), freshman tight end Brendan Downs (12 yards), freshman wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett (15 yards), sophomore fullback Channing Fugate (23 yards) and freshman wide out Vincent Dallas (five yards).
Dallas’ reception finished off the drive in the end zone, not surprisingly, on third down. Bray finished the afternoon 10-of-20 for 144 yards and a TD.
“We were wondering if we could do that because of our youth,” Dooley said. “I look at the last two scrimmages. We had about three or four drives over seven plays. This time, it’s 11 (10) and 16. It’s not the gun-slinging, big-play (offense). I’d like a little of both. We want it all. We want a long drive when we want a long drive and we want to go score when we want to go score. I don’t know what we’re going to be.”
The Vols ran multiple situations, including a pair of goal-line sets that ended in rushing touchdowns. Freshman tailback Marlin Lane took one of his 13 carries into the end zone from two yards out, while sophomore Reggie Juin also scored from the 2-yard line.
Tennessee also managed the red zone as freshman quarterback Nash Nance successfully led a 2-play drive that started at the defense’s 20-yard line, and was capped by a tightly-covered 10-yard completion to newly-converted senior wide receiver Anthony Anderson.
Senior quarterback Matt Simms captained a 5-play, 69-yard drive in an under four-minute situation. Freshman tailback Jaron Toney, who led the Vols with 83 yards rushing, started the drive with a 28-yard carry. Simms completed a 35-yard pass to freshman tailback Deanthonie Summerhill, UT’s longest play of the day, to set up a 7-yard rushing score from Toney.
Palardy also added another 37-yard field goal.
Sophomore linebacker John Propst led UT defensively with seven tackles, while freshman Curt Maggitt made the Vols’ leaderboard for the second consecutive scrimmage with four stops. Freshman defensive lineman Jordan Williams led UT with 1 1/2 sacks, while junior defensive back Rod Wilks was disruptive in the backfield as well with a sack to go with a team-high three quarterback hurries.
The Tennessee offense didn’t throw any interceptions, but did turn it over once via fumbles. Sophomore defensive lineman Joseph Ayres recovered the lone UT miscue, while junior defensive lineman Willie Bohannon forced a fumble that the offense maintained.
Head coach Derek Dooley
(On the sophomores being in new roles this season)
“Last year when (these young guys) went in, they really didn’t have any pressure. We were a bad football team. We were 2-6 so if they went out and stunk it up, nobody really would’ve cared. They could be loose. They were loose and they played well. Now, they don’t have the luxury of having old guys in front of them. They don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘We’re going to save the day.’ It’s their team. The more you realize that, the more you realize how big Tennessee football is, you start getting the exposure and you start getting on the cover of these magazines, it’s normal to start feeling a little pressure. Everybody talks about these sophomores and they go, ‘What happened?’ Well, it’s a different ballgame when you start feeling it. It’s your team, there’s pressure and they have to learn how to manage it.”
(On the importance of running the ball well)
“They did a lot better. Both Tauren (Poole) and Marlin (Lane) made some good runs. The statistics won’t be too high because we had a goal-line situation and some four-minute situations, but in the regular scrimmage we were running the ball very effectively. If we don’t run the ball well this year, we’re not going to be any good. That’s just how it is. We don’t have enough wideouts. We don’t have enough experience at quarterback and receiver play to go out there and sling it around the park. We’re going to have to run the ball well, we did and we made a lot of progress today.”
(On the defense not giving up big plays)
“I think that’s a good sign for our defense. Our defense is not getting gutted, if you will. They’re in cover position. They’re making you work on offense. They’re making you convert thirds. We have to get off the field. We’ve given up a lot of long drives. We have to keep looking at third down and see where we can get better.”
Senior tailback Tauren Poole
(On the scrimmage)
“The offense came out on point. They did a great job of being enthusiastic. We were enjoying the day and having fun out there. I think that’s Coach Dooley’s whole point, he just wants us to have fun and enjoy being out here and being at Neyland Stadium.”
(On the offensive line)
“They came out and wanted to be very physical today. They were smiling in the huddle. (James) Stone was doing a great job of getting everybody up. It was great to see. They opened up holes for us the first couple of drives. But, I know we have to continue to improve.”
Senior linebacker Austin Johnson
(On Tyler Bray)
“He was really cool in the pocket and I feel he had a lot of confidence in the O-Line. I feel like he went through his reads and with him at quarterback you never know where he’s going to go and he can put the ball anywhere he wants. You just have to be on your feet.”
(On freshman linebackers Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson)
“I feel like they are a lot more comfortable. We are kind of getting a flow with each other. We are starting to work off each other and get a feel for playing with each other and I think its helping out a lot.”
(On being a leader)
“I love being their guy to look up to. They come to me for questions and that’s what I want. I want to make sure they know what’s going on and keep progressing.”
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray
(On the defense saying both sides won)
“They can look at it however they want. We’re both getting better so that’s all that matters. As long as they are improving and we are improving, that is great.”
(On relaxing for today’s scrimmage)
“I talked to Coach Chaney the other day about what we needed to do on Saturday. I just needed to relax and go back to the way we were playing last year. I was just rushing myself and trying to make things happen too fast instead of just relaxing and trusting my line. I’ve got all the trust in the world but I just try to over think and rush through. Last year the expectations weren’t that high and this year they are so I’ve kind of forced myself to do things I normally wouldn’t do.”
Sophomore defensive lineman Jacques Smith
(On UT’s defense in today’s scrimmage)
“(The defense) did well today. We played better and we got after it. We were up-tempoed a little bit, but we managed to keep in the game. We had quite a few long drives when we managed to (hold them) to a field goal. That’s what our plan is to do this year and I think we are completing some of the goals we had set out for ourselves this summer.”
(On how much pressure the defensive line got compared to previous scrimmages)
“I think it was the same amount of pressure, they just made those big plays and that’s what we need to do to win. It’s a positive note on both sides of the ball.”
(On getting close to the start of the season)
“You go about four months playing and seeing the same guys. They know my tendencies and I know their tendencies, so it’s always great to play against an opponent when they don’t know what you are going to do and you have to study and watch them. That’s the difference between the season and camp. You have to study your opponent and know his every move. We do a great job of that and I am so excited for the season.”
Sophomore wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers
(On the scrimmage)
“It was a good physical day of good football. I think as a young team we had a lot of growing up to do this summer and through camp, but I feel like we have made strides to be where we are at.”
Sophomore defensive lineman Maurice Couch
(On learning different spots on the D-Line)
“I feel very comfortable playing both (3-technique and nose tackle). It was very tough at first learning both, I made a lot of mistakes in practice, but Coach (Lance) Thompson told me, there’s no such thing as a perfect player. I learn from a lot of mistakes.”
TENNESSEE FOOTBALL SCRIMMAGE STATISTICS (Aug. 20)
Palardy 37 field goal.
Dallas 5 pass from Bray. Palardy kick.
Lane 2 rush. (No PAT)
Juin 2 rush. (No PAT)
Anderson 10 pass from Nance. Palardy kick.
Toney 7 rush. Rhome kick.
Palardy 37 field goal.
Rushing (No.-Yds.-TD-Long) – Jaron Toney 10-83-1-28; Marlin Lane 13-49-1-12; Tauren Poole 7-28-0-12; Reggie Juin 10-17-1-10; Tyler Bray 2-4-0-5; Da’Rick Rogers 1-2-0-2; Justin Worley 1-(-6)-0-(-6); Matt Simms 2-(-16)-0-(-5).
Passing (Att.-Comp.-Int.-Yds.-TD-Long) – Tyler Bray 20-10-0-144-1-28; Matt Simms 8-3-0-51-0-35; Justin Worley 8-3-0-0-17-11; Nash Nance 1-1-0-10-1-10
Receiving (No.-Yds.-TD-Long) – Da’Rick Rogers 3-44-0-33; Justin Hunter 1-28-0-28; Channing Fugate 1-24-0-24; Anthony Anderson 2-16-1-10; DeAnthony Arnett 1-15-0-15; Vincent Dallas 2-12-1-7; Brendan Downs 1-12-0-12; Naz Oliver 1-11-0-11; Dakota Summers 1-11-0-11; Mychal Rivera 1-9-0-9; Tyler Drummer 1-5-0-5.
Defense – John Propst 7 tackles, .5 TFL (-1); Curt Maggitt 4 tackles, .5 TFL (-1); Austin Johnson 4 tackles, 1 QB hurry; Brian Randolph 4 tackles, 1 PBU; Marsalis Teague 3 tackles; Prentiss Waggner 3 tackles; Marlon Walls 3 tackles, .5 TFL (0); Shane Reveiz 3 tackles, 1 TFL (-3); Dontavis Sapp 3 tackles, .5 TFL (-1); Art Evans 3 tackles, 1 PBU; Maurice Couch 3 tackles, .5 TFL (0); Justin Coleman 3 tackles; Jordan Williams 3 tackles, 1.5 TFL (-14), 1.5 sacks (-14); Willie Bohannon 2 tackles, 1 FF; Rod Wilks 2 tackles, 1 TFL (-5), 3 QB hurries, 1 sack; Daryl Vereen 2 tackles, 1 QB hurry; Ben Martin 2 tackles, .5 TFL (0); Joseph Ayres 2 tackles, 1 TFL (-3), FR, .5 sacks (-3); Janzen Jackson 1 tackle; Corey Miller 1 tackle; Izauea Lanier 1 tackle; Nigel Mitchell-Thornton 1 tackle, 1 QB hurry; Trevarris Saulsberry 1 tackle; Arthur Jeffery 1 tackle; Brent Brewer 1 tackle, 1 PBU; AJ Johnson 1 tackle; Jacques Smith 1 QB hurry; Pat Martin 1 QB hurry; Byron Moore 2 PBU.
Field Goals – Michael Palardy 2-of-3, long 37; Chip Rhome 0-of-2.
Punting (No.-Avg.-Long) – Matt Darr 4-36.8-40; Michael Palardy 4-36.3-45.