Hardesty makes moves, but Fulmer says scrimmage 'wasn't what we wanted'

Tailback Montario Hardesty got back to being his old self during Thursday afternoon’s scrimmage in Neyland Stadium.

But Tennessee’s reserves on offense and defense appeared to take a step back.

“I don’t really know how to quite take this scrimmage,” UT coach Phillip Fulmer said. “I don’t think we were nearly at our best or even the intensity we showed (Wednesday). There were some good things on both sides of the ball, but it wasn’t what we wanted. It wasn’t exactly as crisp as I’d like it to be.”

Hardesty, though, seemed crisp as an autumn leaf.

In just four carries, the junior gained 79 yards and showcased the kind of moves that make him a threat when he’s been healthy. On his first carry, he burst up the middle and kept his balance to gash the second-team defense for a 31-yard gain.

After breaking free for 24 yards on his second carry, he unleashed a spin move in the secondary that ended with a 20-yard pickup. That move in particular showed what Hardesty has been saying since July: He’s feeling as good as he’s felt in a long time.

“There were some scrimmages where I might want to play a little bit more, but today I got some pretty good game reps in,” he said. “I’m still healthy, and I can still do some things.”

Receiver Quintin Hancock had his best scrimmage of fall camp, catching five passes for 59 yards and a touchdown from Nick Stephens while working on overtime situations.

Tennessee got a lot done with its pass rush as well, an area where the Vols struggled last season.

Defensive ends Robert Ayers, Wes Brown and Ben Martin each recorded a sack, and linebackers Nevin McKenzie and Ellix Wilson each had two against the second-team offense.

After Saturday’s scrimmage, defensive coordinator John Chavis wasn’t pleased with the way his team tackled. On Thursday, he said the first-team improved, but the second team had a ways to go.

“I thought first group was a little better, for sure,” Chavis said. “We were in better position and that’s part of it. The second group was not quite where we wanted it to be, but that’s why they’re second.”

Fulmer was more blunt in his assessment of the second-team defense.

“They were bouncing off him (Hardesty) like ping-pong balls,” Fulmer said. “We said we were going to improve our tackling, and that second-team defense didn’t tackle anybody.”

Fulmer continued to express his displeasure with some of UT’s reserves.

“We’ve got a group of guys on the second team that have no idea how to play at this level,” he said. “They have no idea. That’s very frustrating and very upsetting because they may be needed. They won’t see the field unless it’s absolutely necessary at spots, I can assure you of that.”

Tennessee’s offense wasn’t immune to its share of struggles Thursday, either.

Quarterback Jonathan Crompton was again solid, completing 12 of his 23 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

He guided the first team on a three-play, 49-yard touchdown drive to open the scrimmage and found receiver Gerald Jones over the middle for the score.

But on the first team’s next possession, Jones dropped a pass on third-and-2 and on the drive after that, Crompton missed an open Jones on third-and-6.

Neither Fulmer nor offensive coordinator Dave Clawson liked that.

“To me, there were some plays to be made that we didn’t make,” Clawson said. “In games against good teams like UCLA, if we don’t make those (plays) it’s going to cost us games.

“We didn’t look bad, but I thought some of our red zone should have looked sharper. I thought we missed a throw and had a drop that we can’t miss.”

Still, Hardesty’s performance was the brightest spot Thursday, which marks UT’s last full-scale contact work before opening the season at UCLA a week from Monday.

“Montario Hardesty didn’t come out here unfocused,” Fulmer said. “He came out here very focused. I was really proud of Montario. He came out to play.”

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

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Comments » 114

OrangePower11 writes:

Look out SEC

OrangePower11 writes:

Id like to thank my Lord and Saviour for being 1st, my family, the Volunteer Family...I could not have done this without all of you!

When we start the series with Nebraska, who has homefield first?

Volomatic writes:

will everyone please calm down on being first no one really cares and its very annoying to see some one post that and actually post third behind a uf poster at that just terrible

DennisVols writes:

Hardesty is bent up frustration from his previous injuries. If he can stay healthy he is going to run and then run some more. This kid has seen set back after set back with his health and again if he stays healthy our opponents will pay dearly.

Volomatic writes:

I would like to see foster break the record but I also think if hardesty can stay healthy he is a much better back for us in the backfield

philfan writes:

Sixth!

voloffaith writes:

Do ewe go by Funny or youshould mr.Ask? Incognito poster hiding within the catacombs of his hidden identity only to be known as........ORANGEPOWER11!!!(SHOUT LIKE TV SUPERHERO)

GoVols keep practicing hard and be ready!

Sarcasm was not cute. Especially bcareful when you start playing loose and free with terms 'Lord and Savior.' Cause if He is truly that to you redemptively then it is nothing to be made light of. If He isn't, then I wouldn't mock the only one in the final judgement that determines where you spend eternity.

Alumni_06 writes:

8th

voloffaith writes:

no philphan ewe were 7th! Missed your moment of your lifetime by 1 minute...don't cry. Lord willing you can try tomorrow to be the first(whoopdedoo).

Hardesty works hard and don't go down easy.

volroadwarrior writes:

I hope Hardesty can stay healthy for 2 more years. I love his north south running style.

voloffaith writes:

alumni sorry. 9th....give it up ya'll for all these one number posters!!(imaginary crowd cheering the useless postings)

Freshly_Cut_Grass writes:

Give away the farm

VOLume writes:

I don't really have enough knowledge of the position to understand why the tackeling is still such an problem. Is our problem related more to speed, power, technique or something else? It seems this is a very fundamental problem.

rabidvol1998 writes:

if we had good tackling, we'd have bad running and be worrying about that.

Let's just hold on 11 days and see how we do against a bunch of guys in powder blue.

williamshockley#225607 writes:

Someone was asking about Nebraska series, here is the upcoming BCS opponents for UT...
2008 – at UCLA
2009 – v. UCLA
2010 – v. Oregon
2011 – at North Carolina
2012 – v. North Carolina
2013 - at Oregon
2014 – at Oklahoma
2015 – v. Oklahoma
2016 – at Nebraska
2017 – v Nebraska
2018 – v. Ohio State
2019 – at Ohio State

gobigorange writes:

As long as the Defense plays to their ability all year and tackle better than previous years, we will be fine.

murrayvol writes:

VOLume: No doubt about it. Bad tackling is a very fundamental problem. It'll get ya beat almost every time.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

I agree with Volomatic--want to see Foster break the record, but if Hardesty can stay healthy he's a much-better back for us.

Hardesty's problem has always been the "injury bug", but he's a dern-good running back: he has the power, size and, most importantly, break-away speed.

Here's hoping we have Arian and Montario for every game this season!!!!!!!!!!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

I'm deeply concerned with crompton. I just wonder if he can make the reads and hit the passes when it counts.

3rd and 2, 3rd and 5...those have to happen.

IMHO, being QB in this system requires:
-getting the offense to the right play
-getting the play off on time
-hitting the open receiver

I don't think it is about being a big play artist, just a sure passer and game maanger.

junder13 writes:

bigvolncarolina, you're right on!:

"Hardesty's problem has always been the "injury bug", but he's a dern-good running back: he has the power, size and, most importantly, break-away speed."

i hope hardesty can have his first full season of health this year. he has so much unreached potential! i can't wait to see this team play!

CoverOrange writes:

Why did Hardesty only get four touches? If he's in a groove let him go! Or was he exposing the 2nd teamers too much?

OrangePower11 writes:

Hey Volomatic...

I made that comment, which was the 3rd one, AFTER I noticed that I was 1st, tongue firmly in cheek.

Tell ya what I'll do, WHATEVER THE FRONT I WANT.

How ya like them apples moron?

OrangePower11 writes:

Vol4gzus,
I find it funny you are able to decipher a person's intent on based on 12 pt font. The Lord knows my heart and knew it when I was typing, not you.
Worry about the log in your own eye pal.

ctownvol writes:

Crompton is of 12 of 23? That's a little concerning, but I do love the sound of 4 carries for 79 yards. If Hardesty can average 19.75 yards per carry...I say give him the ball 40 times a game!

1manningfan writes:

listen Fulmer is just down playing the scrimmage, he can't compliment on every practice the players heads would get to big thinking there the best. I under stand its sometimes a pschological test for the players. Fulmer is pretty much saying theirs always room for improvement and we cant get comfortable with our play. Old cliche, PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!!!

Get my drift fellows!

ctownvol writes:

UT 24
UCLA 10

volunteer_cowboy writes:

im telling you guys, crompton is just a T Martin!!!! there will be games he wont hit a pass and have to run it all day just like T, and then other games he will hit everything. Tennessee's offense will look like LSU's. Run, run, run, bubble screen, pull everybody in then throw it (lay it up) DEEP and let G. Jones run under it

tater872 writes:

I hope your right cowboy. I hope Crompton is another Tee Martin. Solid player who doesn't hurt his team and knows how to win within the system.

Caspian writes:

vol4gzus: Stop, you're killin' me!

PreventUT writes:

I wish he did. I would like to know who he was referring to in that statement...Ben Martin, Chris Donald?

Quote of the day: “They were bouncing off him like ping-pong balls.”

redstickvol writes:

dvolfan, are you really referring to Peyton Manning as a "showboat quarterback" who didn't know how to lead the team? I sure hope not, as Peyton, despite not winning the big one in college, is one of the greatest QBs to ever put on a uniform at UT.

GreenDevilVol writes:

dvolfan,

I guess he cant call out the likes of Holloway for NOT winning us a N.C.(wasted jersey)

iowavol writes:

Since we are making this article more political, I'll pile on. Richrollin, you are right about Vol4g, but there is something even more fundamentally wrong with this person. First and foremost, they have the sacriligous audacity to rename Jesus. Of course she is trying to be cute with phonics, and in doing so violates the most basic of Commandments. Then she does what you illustrate and judges others rather than adding real meaning to the football discussion (similar to this post damnit). Folks like Vol4g need to think about how others will interpret their actions rather than focusing on how cute they are - religion and faith are deeply personal and need to be kept off this site.

And for you Vol4g, better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

About the Vols, go Hardesty. You are the man.

jdcvols#230433 writes:

The number one concern for this team is not the DL. It is Crompton's ability to complete drives. He is good for three plays and then makes a big mistake. Believe me, they are worried about how he can take our team 80 yards against the likes of UCLA, FLa, ALA, GA etc.

Hopson2008 writes:

Is our friendly neighborhood racist back with a new name?

orangebloodgmc writes:

My friends, this was a scrimmage practice. In our first actual game of the season, a lot of things will come together, but other things will be ragged, maybe even ugly in that first game. Still we should improve in execution from 1st game to second, and second to third. Geaux Vawls!

CoverOrange writes:

Yep, Hopson, looks like Naffy has returned from the wasted jersey land to bore us with Tee Martin exploits and humbleness.

Sheepscape writes:

Folks, before you all go comparing Crompton to Tee I suggest you look at the numbers. Tee threw very FEW interceptions in 1998 and took care of the ball. So far, even Jon's foremost supporters will admit he will throw ill timed picks. I really hope he can minimize those tendencies.

Andy Kelly was another Vol that wore number 8...he threw a great number of touchdowns, but he ended up with more career interceptions than touchdowns. Taking care of the football is essential...turnovers will make even the best team average.

GreenDevilVol writes:

Sheepscape,

I will agree that tunovers making a good team average. Kelly was one of those q.b's that also made a average team look great (see '86 Sugar Bowl). Crompton will do fine,my reasoning is,he started from the get go with this new system and will look and do much better than just having a week to get it together with the first offense.It all will come down to our play makers on the field and we have several to choose from.

hueypilot writes:

Interceptions will happen. When and where in the game is the important thing. I once heard Phil Simms say Parcells rode him if he "only" had two int's in a game. He said "You're not trying to get the big one in there" Of course he had Lawrence Taylor and a killer defense to bail him out when he gave the ball away. Kinda like Spurrier when he had Stoops. And when Stoops left, those int's bit Spurrier in the butt.

Sheepscape writes:

GreenDevil,

The 86 Sugar Bowl was Darryl Dickey sir. Andy Kelly was late 80's through 91.

tnbanker_govols writes:

Not the greatest of news you want to hear about the final scrimmage of the year. Tackling has seemed to always plague this UT team. Hopefully, everything will come together by gametime. We need to come out and win game #1. GO VOLS!!!!

GreenDevilVol writes:

Back to the article topic.Fulmer would rather say publicly that the team is not where they need to be,and let the players decide to do better for the teams sake. An old UT grad and former teacher of mine in high school once said;"The last ten days to two weeks of practice is where you had better decide to be the man,or be the one subbing for the man". That man was Leonard Coffman the last surviving member of the '38 '39 team,he knew his stuff.

Go4Two writes:

For everyone that hated the ding and dunk be prepared for a little lower passing %. When you throw the ball down the field you lower your %.

tnbanker_govols writes:

Oh yeah, last night on Brent Hubbs website, they said Gerald Williams had failed his math test and his eligibility is in question. Has anyone else heard this???

GreenDevilVol writes:

GreenDevil,

The 86 Sugar Bowl was Darryl Dickey sir. Andy Kelly was late 80's through 91.

My bad Sheep.But I think you get the meaning.

volguy41nlouisiana writes:

Fellow Vol Fans....Fulmer is the dean of this political spin of his team....He is not gonna come out and say the offense was unstoppable...Crompton completed every one of his passes for TDS and the defense appeared to have 27 people on it....Until the season starts....its gonna be a mind game....vice versa...I wouldnt beleive UCLA is as down and out as they are being played to be...(sounds like they will be fielding a high school team if you read what has been written)...we can all speculate and criticize...but until SEPT1....prime time....we wont know.....So support our boys...staff and team...and know...We are gonna rock the Rose Bowl...GO VOLS

chad_t31 writes:

Good call sheepscape...I'm glad someone knows what they're talking about.

waterskier3#226480 writes:

two things

chavis has been here his whole career and still hasn't found a drill that improves tackling. someone is teaching the players to run up hit the off players without wrapping up...so nothing new there... we'll have tackling issue as usual on defense

on 3 and 2 we're passing the ball??? is coach cut gone or does fulmer really run the offense or or or is fulmer still in control and we'll see the same ol.. 3 and 2 dink and dunk???? or the run game still s??????????

just two observations....

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

my takeaway from this is pray for no injuries.

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