Aug. 13, 2011
Photo Gallery | Complete Scrimmage Stats
KNOXVILLE - In his five starts as a freshman, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray led an `explosive' offense that saw an average time of possession of 2:10 on 27 scoring drives, including 14 that took less than two minutes. During their intrasquad scrimmage Saturday at Neyland Stadium, the Vols showed the potential for offensive efficiency as well.
"He was a lot better and we helped him a little bit too," head coach Derek Dooley said of Bray. "We're starting to get a little understanding of when we're pushing too much because we don't want to make him uncomfortable. He looked in command. He managed the offense well. This was different than what we've done in the past. It was an efficient offense, which is not what we've been. We've been more explosive. We like the efficiency. Nine plays, eight, seven, eight, which means we're getting in third-and-makeable. We're making them. But then we have to hit those shots when we have those opportunities and that's what we were lacking today."
The Vols will still attempt to use their versatile options to continue their success in scoring quickly. And that starts with UT's sophomore quarterback.
"I wish Tyler would get a little more consistent in his approach," Dooley said. "He shouldn't have to have a real bad day to get him to want to come in and take it more seriously and that comes with maturity. We were a little off in the throwing game. I say a little off. We missed a lot of big plays. We're going to try to have a big-play, explosive pass game. The sync was a little bit off. I didn't think anybody was bad. It's just a matter of that chemistry that's going to come with a new receiving corp. I thought Tyler had a good demeanor today."
Bray finished the day 12-of-26 for 132 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His TD toss wrapped up his second drive of the evening, a 4-yarder to sophomore wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers. The eight-play, 70-yard march was highlighted by a 16-yard reception from sophomore wideout Justin Hunter and a 15-yard rush by freshman tailback Tom Smith.
Hunter and Smith led the Vols in receiving and rushing, respectively. Hunter hauled in four passes for 69 yards, including Bray's longest completion of the day, a 21-yarder. Smith carried the ball 10 times for 80 yards, including a UT scrimmage-best 22-yard scamper that set up the Vols' only other touchdown of the night. Following Smith's run, senior quarterback Matt Simms found sophomore wide receiver Matt Milton in the end zone from 18 yards out.
UT was a perfect 5-for-5 on field goals, with sophomore placekicker Michael Palardy responsible for four. Palardy displayed range, connecting on a 52-yarder. His 33-yard field goal wrapped up an impressive and lengthy drive that saw freshman tailback Marlin Lane break a 13-yard run and catch a 12-yard pass on third down. Bray also found Hunter for 18 yards on an earlier third down during that possession.
"We had a lot of improvement in some areas and we have a lot of work to do in others," Dooley said. "Just picking up from last scrimmage, I felt like the tempo was much better by the offense. The administration was much better. We had a nice throw going. We had a lot of good drives. The problem was we only finished one of them off. We did a great job kicking field goals today."
Tennessee's defense forced four turnovers, including three interceptions. Senior defensive back Art Evans claimed UT's first of the day, returning an INT 29 yards. Nigel Mitchell-Thornton and Naz Oliver were responsible for the Vols' two other INTs.
On a reception that would've set the Vols' offense up inside the red zone, sophomore linebacker John Propst stripped the ball and junior defensive back Rod Wilks recovered the fumble. Wilks had a strong day in the UT secondary, adding five tackles, one for loss and a pass breakup.
Freshman Curt Maggitt was disruptive and caused problems for the UT offense throughout the day. Four-and-a-half of his six tackles were in the backfield, leading to a loss of 17 yards. One of his team-high two sacks came on a "late game" situation drive.
The Vols applied pressure on the quarterbacks with four sacks and five QB hurries.
Sophomore defensive back Brent Brewer led Tennessee with seven tackles.
With Tennessee's two-deep tailbacks Tauren Poole and Rajion Neal sidelined with minor injuries Saturday, Lane and Smith took advantage of their opportunities to shine. Applying different rushing styles, the duo provided a one-two punch that combined for 122 yards on 19 carries (6.4 YPC).
"Marlin (Lane) is a little more elusive kind of guy, change of direction," Dooley said. "Tom is a little more of a hammer-knocker. He's a physical guy. He came from a Wing-T offense. They just teach you in the Wing-T to run straight and you don't even look up. You just run. Whoever hits you, you just go. We have to teach them that if there's a defender there, you're allowed to do a little (juke) and get on the edge. He hasn't learned that yet, but he hits and he pushes forward.
"I think they're going to complement each other very well. I'm going to tell you what they both have. They're tough. And that's a starting point at running back."
They also have attention of the individual handing them the ball.
"Marlin (Lane), Tom (Smith) and Jaron Toney came out and ran the ball great today, and caught the ball out of the backfield," Bray said. "These young guys came in and are producing right away. They're not acting like freshmen and that is good to see."
TAKING IT UPON THEMSELVES
After a disappointing scrimmage Tuesday, Bray spoke with members of his offense and they all agreed that they wanted to come out with a much better performance Saturday evening. And they did.
"As an offense after (the first scrimmage) we talked," Bray said. "I hung out with Da'Rick (Rogers), Justin (Hunter) and Matt (Milton) afterwards and we talked about how we have to come out the next scrimmage and show them that we can actually play and we are ready to go for the season, because that last scrimmage wasn't us."
The Vols hope Saturday was more of an indicator of what to expect in 2011 as they showed marked improvement.
"(Today) was a lot better than the last scrimmage. The receivers came out and ran great routes and the offensive line blocked terrific today. It was great. The offense executed well.
"I thought we came out today like it was an actual game. The tempo was up. I didn't even have to look at the play clock the first couple of series because we were in and out of the huddle so fast. The line was hustling and the wide receivers were hustling, so it was fast."
Head Coach Derek Dooley
(On senior linebacker Austin Johnson)
"He's been a good solid mike (linebacker) for us. I think that's where he can help us the most. I think he's comfortable there. He has nice command and leadership on defense."
(On Tennessee drawing too many penalties during Saturday's scrimmage)
"Probably the biggest disappointment, but not surprising was the penalties. We had an inordinate amount of penalties on both sides of the ball. This is the first time really that there's been consequences for their penalties. We had officials at the last scrimmage but it was kind of the flag gets thrown and we tell the guy `Don't hold.' No consequence. It's a real young team. Penalties come for a lot of reasons. It can be just a discipline situation or it could be you're not playing your technique right and then you do something because you're out of your position. We have to really correct that. We had a lot of penalties in some critical times."
(On the risk of injuries during scrimmages)
"You're always nervous about (injuries). I love scrimmages because they get to play and you get to evaluate them but you're always worried about them. The minute you start worrying about guys getting hurt and you start protecting them, then you have a team that can't block and tackle. I've always tried to never coach worrying about injuries but not being dumb about it. They're always going to happen. We just hope they don't happen anything serious to our guys."
Sophomore defensive lineman Marlon Walls
(On Saturday's scrimmage)
"We gave up a few touchdowns and field goals, which hurts, but at the same time, (today) was something to build on. We knew the offense was going to come out and gameplan for us. Coach Chaney is a great offensive coordinator. He told us earlier this week that he was coming after us, so we knew it was going to be a big challenge. It's up to us to step up and accept that challenge. We will watch the film and keep getting better."
(On the offensive line versus the defensive line)
"We have to do better. This time they (O-Line) did a great job driving the ball down the field. The biggest thing is that we put it together at the end and kept them from getting inside (the end zone). But we have to do a better job of not letting them get down into the red zone."
Sophomore defensive lineman Jacques Smith
(On the defensive line playing well despite the absence of injured Malik Jackson) "The only thing I think about that, is that it just proves that we are going to be good. When Malik is added into the role that he has, we are going to be a good D-Line. Front seven-wise, I don't think there is anyone that is undersized and we have plenty of speed."
Senior linebacker Austin Johnson
(On the performance of Tyler Bray)
"He came out a lot of more poised. He seemed like he knew what we were doing (on defense) and he was able to throw on us pretty well today."
(On the defense)
"The first scrimmage we stopped the run really well, and we started well on the deep balls and third downs. I think we have a lot of work to do on the run (defense). You can't always stop it. I felt like they ran the ball a lot better on us today. But I still think they are getting some big throws in there. We just have to work on third downs."
(On the anticipation of the season starting)
"I can't wait for the season. We have a great group with a lot of new faces on the field and I'm just really excited to see what we are going to do and get this season started."
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