April 8, 2006
Coach Fulmer | Fulmer on game | Fulmer on Cutcliffe
Coach Fulmer on A. Sears | Fulmer on R. Meachem | Fulmer on running backs
Coach Fulmer on confidence to get back and what unit progressed the most
Erik Ainge connected with Robert Meachem on a pair of touchdown passes and the White defense held the Orange out of the end zone until the final half-minute in a 34-7 exhibition victory Saturday at Neyland Stadium. The 46th annual EdAmerica Orange and White Game drew a crowd of 15,411.
Ainge completed 14-of-22 passes for 210 yards and two scores on a good day overall for Tennessee's quarterbacks. Orange signal-callers Jonathan Crompton and Bo Hardegree combined to complete 24-of-29 for 152 and a touchdown against one interception.
"David Cutcliffe has been great for all of those guys," head coach Phillip Fulmer said. "We were in and out of the huddle, especially early. I thought Erik had a really good game except for the two sacks. I've been really impressed with Jonathan Crompton, considering he hasn't played any football since high school. And Bo has had a really good spring."
Linebackers Rico McCoy and James Turner led the White team defenders with seven tackles apiece. Jonathan Wade had an interception for the winners, while Robert Ayers and Demonte' Bolden each recovered fumbles to set up short-yardage touchdowns.
Meachem caught TD passes of 27 and 70 yards, the first one opening the scoring in the first quarter and the second coming on the White team's first play from scrimmage in the third quarter that made it 17-0.
"The receivers were better out there because they are blocking their rears off and catching it more consistently," Fulmer said. "They are trying to do more things with the football after they catch it.
"If you don't drop balls, have turnovers and have silly sacks, you have a chance to be successful because we have enough talent to break a tackle or make a play in the passing game that's going to give us some points. That's what we did not do offensively last year."
Fulmer seemed pleased with the effort his defensive charges gave.
"We had a really good spring," he said. "We closed ground in some areas. We can't possibly be as experience as we were last year in the linebacker corps but those guys are just really doing well. They are playing with great attitude.
"Justin (Harrell) has played well all spring and Matt McGlothlin has pushed himself into position where we're going to be counting on him. His play since the spring break has been as consistent as anybody on our football team. And the secondary has been a strength all spring."
James Wilhoit made both of his field goal tries, from 35 and 36 yards, for the White, which also received fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns from Todd Vinson and Roy Olasimbo.
Hardegree hit Bret Smith for a 6-yard touchdown pass in the closing seconds for the Orange team's only score.
"You could describe the spring as a success for probably one reason and that's that our kids learned how to work again as hard as they are supposed to," Fulmer said. "If we will stay that course and make the improvements at the positions where we need to improve, we'll get there.
"We've just finished phase two of what we're trying to get done. I think we've made some strides. Sometimes before you really appreciate the peaks -- and we've been on a lot of peaks -- you've got to go into the valleys. Basically, that's how I've described it to our football team this year. We're doing everything we can to fight and scratch and take each little step we can to get ourselves back where want to be and that's at the peak.
"The kids have had a good attitude but our summer program will be one of the deciding factors on what kind of football team we will have. We actually moved spring practice ahead by two weeks to give us a longer summer cycle. I've seen young people change their bodies during the summer, particularly the young guys and we're going to be counting on a lot of young guys next season."
Tennessee opens the 2006 slate by hosting California Sept. 2.
11:40 1st White - Robert Meachem 27 yd pass from Erik Ainge (Wilhoit kick good), 8 plays, 75 yards, 3:40
10:17 2nd White - James Wilhoit 35 yd field goal, 14 plays, 75 yards, 5:02
08:46 3rd White - Robert Meachem 70 yd pass from Erik Ainge (Wilhoit kick good), 1 plays, 70 yards, 00:10
00:59 3rd White - James Wilhoit 36 yd field goal, 5 plays, 14 yards, 1:39
09:29 4th White - Todd Vinson 6 yd rush (Wilhoit kick good), 4 plays, 13 yards, 2:31
03:38 4th White - Roy Olasimbo 1 yd rush (Bergvin kick good), 7 plays, 51 yards, 3:21
00:25 4th Orange - Bret Smith 6 yd pass from Bo Hardegree (Campbell kick good), 9 plays, 63 yards, 3:13