Foster hasn't lost his grip on starting tailback

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UT offensive coordinator, Dave Clawson, talks about the competition for starting quarterback and what each player, Jonathan Crompton and Nick Stephens, bring to the table.

UT offensive coordinator, Dave Clawson, talks about the competition for starting quarterback and what each player, Jonathan Crompton and Nick Stephens, bring to the table. Watch »

While Tennessee opened a much-publicized quarterback competition this week, tailback is very settled — sort of.

Offensive coordinator Dave Clawson said that senior Arian Foster will remain UT’s starting tailback despite another costly miscue — this time a bobbled center-quarterback exchange that resulted in an Auburn touchdown and a 14-12 loss last Saturday.

UT coaches repeatedly said this week that Foster was to blame for not having his right elbow high enough to accept the ball.

“Arian is still the starter and if he goes out there and plays well and we’re moving the football, we’ll keep him in there,” Clawson said.

Foster has 47 carries this season and is averaging 5.6 yards per attempt, but has made two key turnovers in losses to UCLA and Auburn.

Foster declined interview requests following the Auburn game and refused media requests this week.

Backup junior Montario Hardesty has carried 34 times this season for a 4.2-yard average.

Sophomore Lennon Creer’s average is 8.9 yards per carry, yet he has only 13 attempts this season.

“Arian is very multi-dimensional and can do a lot of different things,” Clawson said. “Montario is probably our hard-hat guy, the most physical guy.

“And I’m not sure Lennon doesn’t give us our best opportunity for a big play.”

Hardesty began the season with 12 carries against UCLA, then had seven against UAB, five against Florida and 10 against Auburn.

“I was happy to get some more carries,” Hardesty said. “It was definitely good.”

After overcoming a myriad of leg injuries, Hardesty said the college game is just starting to slow down.

Hardesty likely would benefit from more carries considering his running style is more apt to wear a defense down.

“(Running backs) coach (Stan) Drayton has a plan for us,” Hardesty said. “I can’t really control that.

“I can just control when I’m in there, being productive with the carries I get.”

The odd man out so far has been freshman Tauren Poole, who was the talk of preseason camp. Poole has nine carries, all in mop-up duty.

Clawson said that Poole’s lack of playing time has nothing to do with his ability, just his lack of experience.

“If we have an injury or two, Tauren will be right there,” Clawson said.

Ultimately, Clawson described the depth at tailback as a good problem.

“We have four backs that we have great confidence in,” Clawson said. “… but there’s not enough footballs.”

Injury Report: UT coach Phillip Fulmer confirmed that senior middle linebacker Ellix Wilson (shoulder) will be available for Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois.

Junior offensive guard Vladimir Richard has been slow to progress from a sore knee this week. He is questionable.

Junior tight end Jeff Cottam was out of the green, non-contact jersey he was wearing Wednesday and practiced at close to full speed on Thursday. Fulmer said he expects Cottam to play about 20 plays on Saturday.

Heading Up Hope: Several of UT’s upperclassmen have addressed their team after a 1-3 start.

Senior Anthony Parker said his message to teammates was about hope.

He pointed out that the Vols made the SEC championship game with two losses last season — even though UT’s second loss in 2007 came in late October, not in September, as is the case this season.

“There still is hope,” Parker said. “Yeah, our backs are against the wall big-time right now.

“We’ve got to relay the message that we’ve got to keep fighting, we’ve got to keep working hard because it is a long season.

“There are eight more games to go. Anything could happen in those next eight games. We could win all eight of them if we really work for it and play as hard as we can play.”

Wilson hopes his teammates are listening.

“Hopefully, everybody has their head in the right place, knowing we can turn the season around,” Wilson said. “I just hope everybody is taking it the right way and just trying to get out here and win.

“We have to get things turned around and we have to do it quick.”

Recruiting Trail: Jerod Askew, a linebacker from Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Va., is UT’s only official visitor this weekend.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder is considering several schools, including Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Clemson, Michigan and Oklahoma.

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Comments » 72

VOLKING writes:

I had a nightmare last night that we were near a goal-line and the announcer said,"Looks like Coach Fulmer is taking Stevens and Hardesty out and Crompton (Frick) and Foster (Frack) are coming in!" AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

wkjq#213863 writes:

Let's win'em all and finish 9-3. GO VOLS!

rkastens writes:

Give Nick a chance!

cdonsbach writes:

GO VOLS!

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

in response to VOLKING:

I had a nightmare last night that we were near a goal-line and the announcer said,"Looks like Coach Fulmer is taking Stevens and Hardesty out and Crompton (Frick) and Foster (Frack) are coming in!" AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Yes, my friend, it does hurt, but it is not the end of the world, keep the faith.

Jamey1210 writes:

Come on vols, no matter who is on the field lets get this train rolling. Govols.

Knoxobserver writes:

Ok, I have watched the film of the fumble I don't know how many times. And this article makes me realize how little I know about football. Can someone please explain to me how Arian Foster's elbow not being high enough is the cause for Jonathan Crompton letting the ball drop from his hand when he was still a step and a half away from Foster? I guess this just proves what great coaching we have. I always thought if the quarterback dropped the ball that was the quarterback's fumble. I now understand that Foster's arms should have been two feet longer! Oh yes, now that makes sense. Foster's arms are too short, that's why the ball fell out of Crompton's hand and into the endzone where Auburn recovered the game winning touchdown. Mr's Fulmer and Clawson, thanks for clearing that up for me. So does this mean that our receiver's arms were all too short on the four interceptions Crompton has thrown this year too? They just didn't have their hands high enough?? I see, it all makes perfect sense now. Thank you. Thank you so much for explaining it so clearly!

TennesseeTominTexas writes:

rkastens, you sound like John Lennon: "All we are saying... is give Nick a chance."

If Crompton is selected to start the game, right after the national anthem, as the band is making its way off the field, That melodious chant should start and continue until Phil can buy a clue.

knoxcountytaxpayer writes:

"Clawson said that Poole’s lack of playing time has nothing to do with his ability, just his lack of experience"

Well if experience means fumbling the ball every other game then give me inexperience!

Volomatic writes:

does any one have the link to the story of fulmore coming to ut and eventually underminig majors for the coaching job

Hucklebuckle writes:

Bring back Jim Rome!

smashmouth98 writes:

foster has been a fumbling machine. the timing of them have KILLED US!!!! hardestey & creer have CLEARLY looked better than Arian, yet he is still in there.

Volomatic writes:

how is it they say that warren isn't up to speed but cottam coming off back surgury gets to play 20 snaps three days after getting out of a green jersey

bluetick writes:

Just put the best guy in, thats all! So many coaches aren't afraid to put in the greenest of greenest players if they are big time play makers. Tennessee is one of the only schools I know of who claim 'inexperience' as an excuse for not putting play makers in games. Most coaches would have yanked Foster already and given others more chances. I like Fosters running ability but like others hate his fumbling habits. I'd bench him and teach him a lesson. I forget which coach it was that use to make them walk around with a football the whole week during classes, sleep with it and everything if they fumbled in a game. I think this should happen at UT as well. Anybody remember who that was? Bear Bryant or Gen. Neyland maybe?

I_Sweat_Orange writes:

Thats quarterback-running back exchange there o red headed one !!!!

Not sure who is worse the chubby bearded guy or Rome !!!

gohawks1 writes:

in response to wkjq#213863:

Let's win'em all and finish 9-3. GO VOLS!

No more for you, pal. The bar is closed. Get a cab and go home.

BSweet writes:

Well, I'm glad he can keep his grip on something. Hopefully he'll keep his grip on the ball as well.

RockyTopReign writes:

in response to Knoxobserver:

Ok, I have watched the film of the fumble I don't know how many times. And this article makes me realize how little I know about football. Can someone please explain to me how Arian Foster's elbow not being high enough is the cause for Jonathan Crompton letting the ball drop from his hand when he was still a step and a half away from Foster? I guess this just proves what great coaching we have. I always thought if the quarterback dropped the ball that was the quarterback's fumble. I now understand that Foster's arms should have been two feet longer! Oh yes, now that makes sense. Foster's arms are too short, that's why the ball fell out of Crompton's hand and into the endzone where Auburn recovered the game winning touchdown. Mr's Fulmer and Clawson, thanks for clearing that up for me. So does this mean that our receiver's arms were all too short on the four interceptions Crompton has thrown this year too? They just didn't have their hands high enough?? I see, it all makes perfect sense now. Thank you. Thank you so much for explaining it so clearly!

After watching the replay on my dvr over and over. I do think it was more foster's fault. Crompton was a little high on the handoff...but... Arian was still bringing his arm up when the ball hit his arm. (To me i thought Crompton watched it in better than he was criticized for.) HIs elbow was low because he was slow in getting his "pocket" formed. this has been a problem with foster for years making dumb mental errors or not being focused, i.e. florida last year that got blamed on Ainge, after it hit foster in the chest. Penn State!! not moving this year at UCLA caausing a fumble.

College fball is all about timing, so Foster: Get your head in the game!!
Crompton just get out the game, i was a huge fan until Auburn, now just really disapointed.

mattnchatt writes:

My local sportstalk radio show has Gerald Riggs on every Thursday. He was asked about the fumbles. He played with Jabari Davis and Cedric Houston. He was just as amazed as the rest of us that Foster is still the starter and gets most of the touches. He said when he was there if you fumbled, you were out and the next guy was in. He doesn't understand how things have changed on the hill. Lastly Riggs said Foster would be third on the depth chart with Creer and Hardesty basically splitting time.

MarbleVol48 writes:

The ball never came close to Fosters right arm!!!!

cnalumni writes:

Foster deserves to be the starter. Yes he has made mistakes, but he is still a good player and has made big plays during his career. Besides, you dont ask him to come back for his senior year and then put him on the bench.

jclowers writes:

in response to mattnchatt:

My local sportstalk radio show has Gerald Riggs on every Thursday. He was asked about the fumbles. He played with Jabari Davis and Cedric Houston. He was just as amazed as the rest of us that Foster is still the starter and gets most of the touches. He said when he was there if you fumbled, you were out and the next guy was in. He doesn't understand how things have changed on the hill. Lastly Riggs said Foster would be third on the depth chart with Creer and Hardesty basically splitting time.

When he as here, Trooper Taylor was here also. How is he doing lately? Oh yeah his offense at Oklahoma State is one of the tops in the nation. But he wasn't ready.

We should scrap the offense we have now and have our 5 linemen, Gerald Jones at QB, Eric Berry, Dennis Rogan, and Lucas Taylor at WR, Hardesty at RB and Warren at TE. What happened to putting the ball in our playmakers hands? Those are our playmakers, not Foster and Crompton.

CoverOrange writes:

"Stevens" = Stephens, just like "Eric" = Erik last season.

Foster's elbow clearly grazed the top of the ball WHILE Crompton's hand still held it on the bottom. Please, fans, invest in Hi-Def TVs.

Gary Danielson is a typical "say something before I see it but never change my mind when obviously wrong" commentator.

Phil feels he owes Arian because he came back for his senior year.

BSweet writes:

Whether or not this latest incident was Foster's fault or not, you have to admit he has been involved in several costly fumbles. Some of those were his fault. As for saying you don't bench a player who came back for his senior season, well, that was his decision. If you don't produce, you don't play. Classic example with the Titans right now. Young is coming back but Fisher isn't giving him the starting job back. Collins is producing and winning. Why upset the apple cart? If you can get production out of Hardesty and Creer without the fumbles, play 'em. The team should come before any individual player.

RockyTopReign writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

"Stevens" = Stephens, just like "Eric" = Erik last season.

Foster's elbow clearly grazed the top of the ball WHILE Crompton's hand still held it on the bottom. Please, fans, invest in Hi-Def TVs.

Gary Danielson is a typical "say something before I see it but never change my mind when obviously wrong" commentator.

Phil feels he owes Arian because he came back for his senior year.

Thank you finally someone with some practical insight.
This wasn't to you turbo but someone said we asked foster to come back so why bench him, well if that's the case we have a five star QB we begged to come play so why bench him ...hmmm i wonder. by the way our best rb may be rogan. and from the earlier column about harrison smith. i hated to see him go. he dominated the field in high school even against rogan although dennis is a better rb. just my opinion though.

thevoice writes:

Clawson: “And I’m not sure Lennon doesn’t give us our best opportunity for a big play.”

I guess we're afraid of big plays? Boy, we sure don't want to stray from the rest of the offense now do we?

pdhuff#552644 writes:

"Hardesty - most physical back". "Creer, gives us best chance for a big play"--- Clawson.

Foster, Phil's fumbling darling.

Will get more carries than Hardesty and Creer combined Saturday.

Nothing will really change with Phil.

Period.

PepperGrinder (Inactive) writes:

I want to see more of Creer.

farfromhome writes:

Hardesty is a far better back,he hits the line harder and i'm not sure but i have not seen him fumble yet. quit this seniority BS and and feed it to him!

VOLKING writes:

in response to WeLoveTennesseeVols:

Yes, my friend, it does hurt, but it is not the end of the world, keep the faith.

Amen to that. And I will keep the faith no matter how frustrating this season becomes. I do have faith that wrong will fail and the right prevail...whatever that 'right' may be....new quarterback, new coach...whatever. After all, as a fan, what else can I do.....except maybe vent on here and hope for the future.

Urbiewerecomingtogetyou writes:

in response to wkb12:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The eighth wonder of the world !!

JACK8254 writes:

in response to VOLKING:

I had a nightmare last night that we were near a goal-line and the announcer said,"Looks like Coach Fulmer is taking Stevens and Hardesty out and Crompton (Frick) and Foster (Frack) are coming in!" AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

if fat phil starts Foster and crompton this week- I hope that NIU wins by 21. I have had enuf of this bullexcrement. I had 2 tix that i finally had to give away to get rid of. Go ahead and call me a less than loyal fan - i dont care.

Knoxobserver writes:

Sorry, ain't gonna convince me with hi-def or photo-shop. Crompton was never close enough to Foster to hand the ball off. You put it between the numbers 2 - 7, not between the arms. Every middle school quarterback knows that. It is a basic fundamental of football. Crompton sticks it in his gut where it belongs, Foster can't miss the hand off. Blaming Fostser is BS and you know it. I'm not saying he's a perfect back but this was not his fault. This play was a demonstration that the talk about fundamentals is just that, talk. There is simply no way to practice that play correctly in game conditions and then blow it on the field. Go to any local HS football game tomorrow night and you will see teams outexecute UT because they drill fundamentals until the students can't get them wrong.

JACK8254 writes:

in response to Urbiewerecomingtogetyou:

The eighth wonder of the world !!

I am starting to think that foster & crompton have some type of blackmail material on the Vol Coaches. This is absolutely insane. By the way, everyone in America who has an opinion ( many of them players & coaches) has said THE FUMBLE WAS CROMS FAULT. WHAT WOULD MOTIVATE PEOPLE LIKE gARY dANILSON TO LIE ? HE DOESNT HAVE AN AX TOGRIND? i AM STARTING TO DOUBT MY SANITY READING THIS SWILL FROM ut EVERYDAY.

JACK8254 writes:

in response to cnalumni:

Foster deserves to be the starter. Yes he has made mistakes, but he is still a good player and has made big plays during his career. Besides, you dont ask him to come back for his senior year and then put him on the bench.

THANK YOU AND HOW IS ARIANS MOTHER THESE DAYS, SINCE YOU ARE CLEARLY HER BOYFRIEND?

Orangeblood13 writes:

no comment

I need to review the tape

FedUpVolFan writes:

in response to wkjq#213863:

Let's win'em all and finish 9-3. GO VOLS!

Whatever you are smoking?
I want some!

Hydra writes:

I still say Crompton fumbled that ball, the coaches are just trying to keep his (already sky-high) ego from deflating. It's obvious (to me) that he let go of the ball early. I'm sure it's the receiver's fault everytime they can't catch up to the passes he throws 10 yards over their head also!

JACK8254 writes:

in response to Volomatic:

does any one have the link to the story of fulmore coming to ut and eventually underminig majors for the coaching job

i have great recall on this cause I knew Johnny a little( he dated a distant rel in the 50s) when he was fired-a local newsie ask ful if Ful had talked to A banker and explayer named johnson who lived in middle TN who was leading the alumni charge to get rid of johnny. FUl said no. The writer then produced a copy of PF phone bill that revealed over 80 calls in 1 week between Phil and said banker. Ful then said that he had forgotten. 80 calls in 1week and Phil "forgot" about them!! draw your conclusions! phil=liar

JACK8254 writes:

in response to FedUpVolFan:

Whatever you are smoking?
I want some!

if we go 9-3 for the year ( and i hope we do) I will personally write phil a check for $1000 of my money. I promise you and everyone on this blog- I will follow thru. The odds are in the order of 850,000 to one. I am not rich
, but i will gladly give this money for 9 wins.

abrown#232236 writes:

I like Arian. I like how he runs, and how he carries himself. I don't always like how he carries the ball. Remember when Cutcliffe came back, and he just rode Foster about holding the ball high and tight, and the position of his hands? Well...did anyone do that in the spring or fall prior to this season? Doubt it. Foster has had some defensive comments about his fumbling, but yo...I mean, he fumbles, and most often in critical situations. Its all there to see -- and he needs to square up, face it, and fix it. It is a shame that the coaches fumbled managing this aspect once Cut was gone. The result will cost Foster millions. He needs a Coach to drill him on these things, the way Burgess Meredith made Rocky chase the chicken. That's what the program is supposed to do for the boys that entrust their future to it. More than wins and championships, I want to see our program again be a place where the talent can grow and flourish.

MrBamSeydu writes:

in response to wkjq#213863:

Let's win'em all and finish 9-3. GO VOLS!

You're cutoff!! You've had your fill and are now talking like a drunken mad man.

rblakeh writes:

Creer is a great back, however you are all focusing on one dimension of the game. The running back needs to be able to handle blocking assignments, read defenses on zone plays, and catch the ball out of the backfield. Foster has fumbling issues, but in spite of that, he is still probably our best all around back. I like the strategy of giving him the ball between the 20s and letting Hardesty pound it in there. I think Creer looks so good when he comes into the game (aside from just being a very talented back) because he brings a complete change of pace. If he's getting the majority of the carries, he may not look as good. Stan Drayton knows what he is doing.

Urbiewerecomingtogetyou writes:

in response to JACK8254:

I am starting to think that foster & crompton have some type of blackmail material on the Vol Coaches. This is absolutely insane. By the way, everyone in America who has an opinion ( many of them players & coaches) has said THE FUMBLE WAS CROMS FAULT. WHAT WOULD MOTIVATE PEOPLE LIKE gARY dANILSON TO LIE ? HE DOESNT HAVE AN AX TOGRIND? i AM STARTING TO DOUBT MY SANITY READING THIS SWILL FROM ut EVERYDAY.

Jack: I agree with the sanity comment. There's absolutely no logical explanation to continue starting Foster and Crompton. Hardesty and Stephens at least deserve a chance to jump start this offence. Simply Amazing!!

AppStVol writes:

Arian has had his up and downs, but im still a fan and he is the most complete back on campus. He blocks and catches the ball out of the backfield better than Hardesty and Creer ever will. The way I look at it Foster has cost us a couple of games, but look at all the games he has had a big hand in winning. The fumble at Auburn was Crompton's fault. The ball was loose in his hands and he never even came close to putting it in Arian's gut for the handoff. The botched handoffs are a reflection on the coaching staff in my opinion.

richvol writes:

Why would anyone believe that Fulmer is going to play anybody but his favorites? He is pigheaded and stubborn to the detriment of the team and has ALWAYS been that way.

tennecwingrider writes:

in response to Urbiewerecomingtogetyou:

Jack: I agree with the sanity comment. There's absolutely no logical explanation to continue starting Foster and Crompton. Hardesty and Stephens at least deserve a chance to jump start this offence. Simply Amazing!!

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

luckymacy#423360 writes:

Clawson said it but did Fulmer make the decision for him? I don't believe for 1 second Clawson wouldn't have made different and more successful choices if he was the head coach. It seems to me this is another hilarious case of Fulmer dumbing down those around him to "yes men" status.

PreventUT writes:

“We have four backs that we have great confidence in,” Clawson said. “… but there’s not enough footballs.”

With an ineffective passing game, lack of depth at WR, and "too much" talent at RB, utilizing the occassional two-back set makes sense to me. I don't know, maybe Fulmer would sit Adrian Peterson behind LaDainian Thomlinson (not drawing comparisons!).

I can see the added confusion it would create during hand-offs, though. Better keep it simple.

lomas98 writes:

"Fulmer said he expects Cottam to play about 20 plays on Saturday."

How can a TE who has only practiced a week and coming off a bad leg injury, be expected to play more than a former freshman all american? Doesn't Cottam have some catching up to do as well. This is not the same offense as last year. He hasn't gone full speed all year. Warren played 6 snaps last week and has gone through all the practices and played in 4 games.

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