KNOXVILLE (AP) -- Derek Dooley doesn't give too much weight to the results of Tennessee's annual Orange and White scrimmage. The Volunteers coach does want his players to pay attention to the way the white team stole a win from the favored orange team, though.
The white team, led by reserves Matt Simms and Rajion Neal, won Saturday's spring game 24-7 thanks to tough play at the line of scrimmage, which helped the run game find success.
"I told the team it was a great example that it doesn't matter what kind of game it is, spring game, SEC game, you name it. The team that can win it at the line of scrimmage and run the football will win it," Dooley said.
The white team controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, opening holes for Neal and Toney Williams while pressuring starting quarterback Tyler Bray, who opened the game 0-for-8.
The offensive and defensive lines are the youngest units on the team, but the linemen made significant gains throughout the spring. Alex Bullard, a sophomore offensive tackle who transferred from Notre Dame, was awarded the Harvey Robinson award for top performance by an offensive player in the spring, and defensive tackle Daniel Hood was given the Andy Spiva Award, honoring the top defensive performance.
"They were enthusiastic all spring," tailback Tauren Poole said of the linemen. "They talked -- that's the first time I heard a lot of those guys talk."
Despite winds of speeds around 25 mph, Simms hit Neal on a wheel route for a 43-yard touchdown pass early in the game. Simms later ran 2 yards for another score and completed 6 of 13 for 93 yards.
Neal ran 12 times for 60 yards, and Williams gained 53 yards on 10 runs.
"The white came in heavy underdog," Dooley said. "Orange was confident, talking smack, had all the skill and the white went blue-collar on them and punched them right in the mouth. It was fun to watch."
Bray found a little rhythm after halftime and found Mychal Rivera wide open on busted coverage by the white team for a 54-yard touchdown pass. Bray finished 5-of-30 for 122 yards, and Tauren Poole ran nine times for 61 yards for the orange team.
"They were talking real tough this whole week about how they were going to win, but they didn't realize the trenches were where it was at," white team defensive tackle Malik Jackson said.
Brent Brewer led the orange team with seven tackles, while his teammates Robert Nelson and Daryl Vereen each had six tackles. Willie Bohannon had two tackles for loss, and Anthony Anderson recovered a muffed punt by Eric Gordon -- the only turnover in the entire game.
Malik Jackson led the white team with three tackles, two of them for loss.
Dooley said he was pleased with the way the entire team improved throughout the monthlong spring practice session, but he's looking forward to the team's 20 incoming players joining the squad in June.
"Improved, but a long way to go," Dooley said. "There are some areas where we feel like we've got good enough players to continue to develop, and there are some areas we still need some help."
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide detailed information.