Mistakes shrink at UT scrimmage

For a moment Saturday, Tennessee’s offense looked like it was headed for another long afternoon inside Neyland Stadium.

On the first series of the day, tight end Luke Stocker misread the coverage and ran the wrong route. Quarterback Jonathan Crompton compounded that mistake with one of his own, and the ball wound up in the waiting arms of defensive back Anthony Anderson.

An inauspicious start, sure.

But unlike a week ago in the last scrimmage, that mistake was an aberration and not the norm.

“I thought we played a little faster,” new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson said. “It looked like guys knew what they were doing. This is still a work in progress, and we’re not obviously where we need to be, but at least we took a step forward this week.”

Quarterbacks led the charge on a day when the running game increased its production and coaches got looks at several potential playmakers.

Crompton finished 17-of-22 for 149 yards, one touchdown and one interception. In addition, Crompton rushed seven times for 19 yards and two touchdowns in his only full-contact work so far this spring.

“We got better from last week to this week,” said Crompton, who last week was 10-of-18 with three interceptions. “It’s our best improvement overall as an offense. We had less turnovers, less clock-management mistakes and things like that. Just getting better, and that’s the key.”

So was getting more from the running game.

Arian Foster rushed seven times for 38 yards in limited work. Freshman Tauren Poole (17 carries for 45 yards) and sophomore Lennon Creer (10 for 47 yards and one touchdown) showed improvement as well.

“I thought we had a good day at running back,” UT coach Phillip Fulmer said. “Arian is obviously a weapon in a lot of ways. It was good to see Lennon make a couple plays for us, getting the ball down the field and taking care of the ball. I thought Tauren Poole had his best day as a running back at Tennessee. I think he’s going to be really good.”

Receiver Gerald Jones also impressed.

A week after not touching the ball, Jones caught seven passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. Those catches came all over the field, and he lined up both out wide and in the slot. If that wasn’t enough, Jones got the ball on a reverse and even returned a blocked punt 25 yards for a touchdown.

Getting the ball in the dynamic sophomore’s hands was a major goal for Clawson.

“We didn’t really want to look at plays,” Clawson said. “We wanted to try to get certain guys the ball in positions, and he was one of the guys we tried to do that with.”

Overall, players are growing more comfortable with Clawson’s multiple offense, and it showed Saturday.

“Most definitely because now we’ve got the whole offense in and we can just worry about the whole offense instead of putting something new in every day,” said Jones, who has yet to take any snaps at quarterback this spring. “That’s the reason why our scrimmages have been a little shaky, because we’ve been concentrating on what we have to do (so much) that it’s been messing us up.”

As for big-time mess-ups Saturday on offense, the Vols were much better than a week ago.

Nick Stephens connected on 10 of his 15 passes and threw touchdowns to Jones and Quintin Hancock.

Redshirt freshman B.J. Coleman threw the only other interception Saturday, and that was due to an athletic play by linebacker Rico McCoy rather than a major mistake by Coleman.

Even with two turnovers, the offense made a big step in the right direction. And while the Vols aren’t exactly ready to play Florida next weekend, there’s a growing level of comfort and familiarity with Clawson’s offense to showcase in the Orange and White Game.

“I think the most important thing is we’ve seen players progress,” Clawson said. “We have a number of guys who are a much better at practice 12 than they were at practice one. When it’s all said and done, it’s about players, not plays. And if we get the right guys in the right spot and find ways to get them the football, that’s how we need to win football games.”

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

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Comments » 55

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

okay, here goes nothing...
I think spring practive is too short, and also think fall practice is too short.

Why? Why would I wish to shake up the conservative world of football practice??

Injuries. I'd like to sse shorter actual practice sessions (2 hours??), but with a longer 'season' it would let coaches spend more team teaching proper techniqe to athletes who aren't quite so fatigued.

The NCAA has no problem with coaches being paid umpteen million per year, why not let them spend more time teaching???

Okay, light'er up; I expect the more cnoservative 'but we've always done it that way' crowd to waste this one.

1974Vol writes:

I like the way Clawson sounds. Get playmakers the ball; its more about players than plays! Wow what a concept.

WestTennVol writes:

I'm very excited to see Clawson's offence in the orange and white game.

The_Dude_Abides writes:

Sounds promising...

GerryOP writes:

Exactly right 1974Vol -- "...if we get the right guys in the right spot and find ways to get them the football..." The sweetest words I have heard from our coaching staff in a long time. Some of these guys are really going to grow and excell in this environment. May we never again hear "...been doin' it like this for 15 years, no reason to change now..." Hallelujah!

Now, what about the d-line?

VolPride_13 writes:

And think Crompton is not at full strength with him having surgery after spring practice!!!

khelton657 writes:

What's the deal with Fulmer only allowing the QB 3 seconds to get rid of the ball ? I know it is to avoid sacks but is that really long enough for the QB to accurately gauge what is going on ? For example, if the WR slips, does that mean the ball is coming to him anyway ?

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:


That probably explains some of the INT's. I think Fulmer is working the old angle where if you practice a skill in a more difficult environment, the natural environment becomes easier to perform in.

e.g. Shooting basketball on a small rim and then moving to a bigger rim. Aim small, miss small, right?

Realistically, if he can learn to do something with the ball in three seconds, he'll have no problem adjusting to situations where there is more time to throw.

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:


I guess you'll fall out if he says, "We're workin' like heck to stay the course!"

FishTacos writes:

PLEASE! STAY HEALTHY!! More practices can result in more Injuries!!! Go Vols!! I am already excited.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Crompton 17 of 22 works for me. Keep it up!

Bamacheats 1:01 am- Others will utter those immortal phrases before the 4th game, book it, Dano.

GerryOP- And, by God, we'll keep doing it "this way" till the boatman comes across the Styx. Down deep, you really know. The only question is "When does Clawson become family"?

Stay the course.

beartn#223846 writes:

<<okay, here goes nothing...
I think spring practive is too short, and also think fall practice is too short.

Why? Why would I wish to shake up the conservative world of football practice??

The NCAA dictates how many total hours and number of days teams can practice in the Spring, Fall, and during the season. Over the last 20 years, the amount of time the NCAA allows teams to practice has gone down.

GerryOP writes:

pdhuff, October will be trial by fire. There will be a whole bunch of teachin' and mentorin' goin' on. General Neyland's wins record is safe for a while.

tigervol9802 writes:

October? Have you looked at the September schedule yet? We could very easily be 1-3 at September 30. Heck, 2-6 at October 31 isn't a far-fetched dream either.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

True Tigervol & GerryOP - I believe in my geezer mind that many of us will be going "Dang" afore too long. Better mix me a batch of "mountain" $70.00 a gallon Koolaid.

CoverOrange writes:

khelton, what it means to me is that the offense is running timing patterns where the QB throws to a spot and the WR better be there. It requires the QB to read the defense and know where he is going to go with it before the snap. Dan Marino and the Dolphins used it effectively in the 80s. 3 seconds is long enough for the receiver to get half way to where he is going and the defense to react one way or another. The greatest skill a QB must have is the ability to make a decision.

givehim6 writes:

It's been very good hearing how good the defence has been playing. And now the offence is starting to gel to. I just hope UT can play the same when thay start going against some one else. Can't wait for the big O&W game. GO VOLS!

JohnnyU writes:

I know I may be getting hung up on words too much, but I am leery of putting too much emphasis on "playmakers" and "getting the ball to certain people" at the expense of "plays" and execution. Maybe I'm too old fashioned, but I think if you go with a well conceived offense, execute it well, and get players to buy into it, that's seems more consistent to me. Playmakers sometimes will not last. Either they get hurt, they get disgruntled, they flame out either off the field or in class or things go great and they go pro early.

Having said that, I do think we need a new offense, hopefully our opponents will have to spend more time preparing for us, rather than just saying, "this is what they do, this is how to stop it". Anyway, just some spring talk, I look forward to seeing it on 1 Sept.

txvolsfan writes:

I've always been a west coast offense fan, I like seeing the field spread out and getting the Jones type players the ball in space, very exciting!!!
I would like to see Paige develop more this is perfect offense for a fast smaller player!!!
I like our mix of players and just pray that Crompton is the answer, this is also a great offense for an athletic QB like him.
It should be interesting to watch the plot unfold

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

bear, exactly my point about the NCAA.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

Guys, don't be, well, stupi....no, I won't say it. A PLAY is about getting a ball to a PLAYMAKER. Rarely, RARELY does a player do something all on his own.

There is amost always the big block, the well-schemed play, or on D, a big hit or rushed QB.

I nevef found a lot of fault with CUT's offense. I found a LOT of fault with his play-calling and game schemes.

Cut is one of the best offensive tutors in the biz, but he will be smart to let someone else scheme the games and call the plays.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Doldrums surround us. 38* down from 76*. They are getting us ready for 92* and Baseballzzzzzzz.

invisiblekid writes:

Sounds good to me, cutting down on turnovers is always a good thing.

GerryOP, regarding the defensive line, check the stats on the other article. It seems like Martin and Williams did pretty well. Bolden continues to bring up the rear however. Depth appears that it will be an issue until it's hopefully addressed next signing day.

KHelton, theory has been that the offensive line is doing a good job if they give the QB 4-5 seconds to make a decision. Fulmer is probably using 3 seconds to help speed up the decision-making process of the QB's as WD40 essentially said. The other thing it tells me along with the average yards per attempt is that they aren't running many 5 or 7 step drops which means fewer deep balls.

thesavageorange writes:

I know a-lot of people would like to see Berry play some offense, but w/ the depth in the secondary, I would rather see Rogan get some snaps.He just keeps making plays, and Berry may be the one guy that the secondary cannot afford to lose.If not for a premature whistle,Rogan would have scored on a 70yrd punt return yesterday.He also bobbled a sure int for a 50 yd TD.

On defense Martin,Brown, and Ayers all had 2 sacks.Last yr Bolden, and Williams were constantly doubled b/c the ends could't pressure.They are getting pressure against a pretty good O-ine.That's another reason they are going w/ alot of 3 step drops.Pressure!

McCoy on the D-line:"I think our D-line is great," McCoy said. "Personally, I think that's the biggest difference between this defense from this time last year to now. I really like the way all those guys are playing up front at all four positions."

Just trying to keep the kool-aid cold!

gohawks1 writes:

savage, I also think it is a bit risky to play Berry on offense, but an article a while back stated that he was promised the opportunity to play on both sides of the ball during his reruiting process. Just so long as he doesn't get hurt, I'm ok with that, but you never know...

The D-line's biggest concern is depth. We have 2 or 3 capable guys, but not enough backups if injuries start showing up.

tigervol9802 writes:

pdhuff -

Whew, you may need a batch the $90 kind they are selling the students. I hear that kind is made over in Sevier and Cocke counties.

TommyJack writes:

Savage: Defensive studs should remain defensive studs. Defense wins. Always has. Offensive schemes come and go, but the defense wins championships. That part of football has not changed.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

TJ, lose the sound philosphy, "Defense, smefense". Not needed. I see I need to schedule you for a 4-day seminar with ol' sjt18 on Offense Sells Tickets 101. You have lost the light!!

Tigervol- when I was a kid some unregistered chemists concocted for $12.00 per gallon. It would guarantee you would never, I repeat, never have any type of intestinal worm. Today, I've heard, don't know, you understand, that OPEC must control the price since its rumoured to be around $75.00.

Still kills any type of worm, I'm told.........

thesavageorange writes:

IPOrange .Good points.I believe there are 2 other things that will help the d-line.
1.Improved secondery.I can't add on a calculator how many times we had teams in 3rd and long ,and gave up a wide open pass on a busted coverage keeping the defense on the field.
2.The O staying on the field longer ,especially in the 2nd half.Last yr the Vols scored 270 1st half points, and only 161 in 2nd half,90 of which came against Vandy,Southern Miss,AK ST,and LA Laf.How we averaged 32.5 points a game I'll never know.

thesavageorange writes:

TommyJack ,You're on point as usual.As far as I'm concerned we can win every game 2-0.Then I can take that $75.00 to $90.00 dollar hooch, pour it in my big orange kool-aid, and sing roky-top till my wife kicks me out.

thesavageorange writes:

I've already had some!I meant ROCKY TOP.

TommyJack writes:

Savage: I'll take 2-zip. Probably ain't gonna happen. But I don't need 53-51 wins to make my day. Don't have stats, but it has been my experience that those all offense teams of the past(and present)...Hawaii, BYU (at times), Texas Tech, etc..lose many of those 53-51 games.
As for tix sales, I think peeps will pay to see a consistent winner; the score notwithstanding.

PD: Those daily strolls down to the hidden stash in your barn probably take care of any and all worms. Works for me. Sure as hell don't have a tapeworm. lol

GerryOP writes:

tigervol9802 at 9:40 a.m., you're right, I meant to say September. It could all be over but the shouting by October. Reduced to hearing our fearless leader advising us that "...it takes at least a year, maybe two, to install a new offense. But we'll get 'em next year dadgumit." On the other hand, we could be 4-0 and declaring ourselves the SEC and National Champs by then! I hope for the best, but, ....

Yes, i-kid I see the numbers but not sure they mean all that much coming out of a scrimmage. After all, it's us'ins vs. us'ins. It's the numbers on the scoreboard that count. My concern for the defense is rather precisely aligned with pdhuff's feelings. At best, we lack depth.

CoverOrange writes:

Defense can sell tickets if there are plenty of sacks, TFLs, batted passes and Ints. Its when the defense repeatedly allows 3 or 4 first downs before holding and forcing a punt that it can get boring.

TommyJack writes:

The selling of tix somehow doesn't seem to be a problem at Neyland's house.

burntorangeVOLffle writes:

"an article a while back stated that (Berry) was promised the opportunity to play on both sides of the ball during his recruiting process."

If it's the article I'm thinking of Berry was also quoted saying something to the extent of "If (playing on offense) happens that's great but if not then that's okay too."

The kid just does what's best for the team. While I'm sure it was talked about during his recruitment I doubt it was a major selling point. I remember reading that Fulmer asked him what position he wanted to play in college and when he answered cornerback Fulmer said "What? You don't want to play quarterback?" to which Berry replied "Do you want me to play quarterback?"

TNfaninMS writes:

Fritter? Why are you so pessimistic? did someone piss in your orange kool-aid? Whats with all the negativity? You havent even seen what Clawson has done yet, but you are already on the negativity trail. Whats up with that?

TommyJack writes:

nafslov: Do you work at being a Richard-head, or does it come natural? Just curious.

gohawks1 writes:

Heh, heh. Richard-head... Is that the politically correct adaptation?

gohawks1 writes:

Fellers, when you want the best muscadine squeezins you ever had, let me know. I have a personal supplier.

TommyJack writes:

I.P.: Be careful man. The DEA is crackin down on muscadine dealers.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

guys, bad news. the DEA is now after moon pies. It seems that Moon Pies, and their alter egos, goo-goo clusters, where meant to be on the DEA hit list as comprised by Anslinger, but was inadvertantly cut off by a fat secretary (there is a rumor she did it on purpose).

Any way, possession of moon pies or goo-goo clusters will henceforth be a felony, punishable by 15 years in prison.

The good news?? Well, the penalty for forcible rape, mutilation, and muggings have all been reduced to probation and time served for any and all offenses up to 112th.

Beware the moon pie, folks.

TommyJack writes:

goo goo clusters are sacrosanct.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Doldrums in the foothills. Near $4.00 gas to go watch a meaningless scrimmage. Man, its here.

Soon, ol' sjt18 fingers will have a chance to recover. Peace along the Cumberland.

johnlg00 writes:

I think perhaps too much is being made of the apparent emphasis of play-makers over plays. While it is true that football is the ultimate team game, with a high premium on execution, it is the exceptional player who makes the difference between a modest gain and a long TD on a given play, even if everybody else on the team executes perfectly. Besides, the normal plays often depend on the ball carrier making someone miss at some point, hence the emphasis on identifying and exploiting one-on-one situations. In other words, the "normal" style of offense also depends on play-makers. It may be that Clawson puts a higher priority on identifying who the play-makers are and designing plays that best exploit their talents, rather than just saying, "This is our offense; it is up to the players to fit into it." Specific plays aside, it seems to me to be just a change in emphasis, and not necessarily a major change, rather than a complete change in offensive philosophy.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

johnlg00 9:24 am - good read. I also think having a under-manned position causes the "play maker" sometimes to look better than he is.

It can be glaring when an average CB is left on an island against a great WR.

Not as noticeable when a DT can't get any push until you look at the scoreboard late in the game. A tad slow LB will be found reaching back for a passing fleet RB, also.

missrvrvol writes:

Wow, Not ready to play Florida next weekend. Were we ready to play Florida last Sept?

TommyJack writes:

PD: Can't imagine how this happened. We do, after all, have a DC that loves to hit the recruiting trail....One thing you can say for having lousy DT's. They allow LB's the chance to shine. lol

invisiblekid writes:

GerryOP, just trying to find a bright side to the defensive line, I think Williams and Martin may break out this year. However, see my comments under the scrimmage stats story, or actually any story related to the defense for the past 2+ seasons, and you'll find that we are all in line with the teachings of pdhuff on the subject.

GerryOP writes:

No disagreemnt i-kid. Don't care if we give up 50 points as long as we score 60!

When pdhuff speaketh, we listeneth!

Forgive me, I seem to be having a problem taking stats from spring practice very seriously. No spectators, no press, only the words Coach Fulmer wants us to hear. ...us'ins vs. us'ins...

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