Adams: Competition gives offense a head start

John Adams

Tennessee probably made school history with the first snap at Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Five plays later, it had part of the crowd tweeting and texting away about another football milestone.

The history: When was the last time UT had a full-scale scrimmage this early (four weeks before its season opener)? "Never" is my best guess. If former UT publicist Haywood Harris knows better, I'll provide a correction.

Yet the scrimmage hardly seemed out of place, given the intensity of the previous four practices.

New UT coach Lane Kiffin and his assistants are obviously hit-happy. In fact, at their rate of contact, I wouldn't be surprised if guys started banging helmets as part of their stretching regimen this week.

The milestone: The UT offense drove 70 yards for a touchdown on its first drive, which probably reads like a tabloid sentence to anyone who has a recent history with this football program. In an East Tennessee supermarket checkout line, "Crompton Perfect," turns more heads than "Angelina Gives Birth To Martian."

But quarterback Jonathan Crompton was perfect - 9-for-9 passing - with the first team. He has never looked better - scrimmage or game, day or night.

It wasn't just Crompton. It was the entire offense. Almost everytime you looked up, sophomore running back Tauren Poole was racing into the end zone.

What's with these guys? Don't they know every opening preseason scrimmage is supposed to be accompanied by the headline: "Defense Dominates First Scrimmage"?

The turnabout is more startling because of last year when Crompton played poorly enough to lose the starting job before mid-season and the offense ranked 115th nationally.

Granted, the defense might have been as basic as the Vols will see the rest of the preseason. And, as offensive coordinator Jim Chaney pointed out, there are sometimes underlying mistakes behind big plays, which included a 68-yard touchdown pass from Crompton to Gerald Jones, and a 75-yard run by Poole.

"You watch that tape and you realize maybe it wasn't what you did," Chaney said. "Maybe a young player misaligned on their side, and all of a sudden, it looks as though you've done something special."

But in the context of a week's worth of practice, this wasn't an aberration. The wide receivers have caught the ball well for three consecutive practices; Crompton has made outstanding throws, just without the consistency he demonstrated Saturday; and the four running backs - veterans and freshmen alike - all have distinguished themselves.

Poole might have been the star, but freshman tailbacks David Oku and Bryce Brown continued to show their potential. Oku had a 43-yard touchdown run, which was nullified by a penalty, while Brown had 50 yards on 11 carries while running mostly with the second team and against the second-team defense.

Brown's performance was noteworthy in that he was held out of contact Friday after suffering a "mild concussion" in Thursday's practice. Three times, Brown beat the defense around the corner on runs of 12, 14, and 3 yards for a touchdown. He not only ran fast, he ran aggressively.

He better. In a camp as competitive as this one, every play - every run - matters.

"Our guys on offense understand there's no job certain until we get through camp," Chaney said. "There's no position set anywhere on our football field."

The running backs apparently have got the message.

"Everyone is competing,' UT running backs coach Eddie Gran said. "We told the freshmen when they came in here, 'This is their time.' They get a chance to come in and play."

The whole offense made the most of its chance Saturday.

But it wasn't just ahead of the defense for a day. It was ahead of schedule.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 26

Whiskey_Wizard writes:

E. Berry not playing much as well as Rico. I'm glad to hear that Crompton looked good but until we play someone, I'm not gonna start drinking the cool aid. I'm a realist. I wanna be an optimist. Give me sumpin over 80 proof and I'll say we may just win the SEC.

merhawk writes:

Best NEWS Ive heard all year except Fulmer crying and Kiffen hiring. keep working hard. GO VOLS

FWBVol writes:

The old KISS rule of Keep It Simple Stupid was all but forgotten last year. The Clawfense was a nightmare.

Keeping things simple allow players to read quickly and react. It allows freshmen an opportunity to be in a position to make an impact early in their careers.

I don't think we will lead the nation, or even the SEC in offense, but I think we will be in the top half of the back both in the nation and in the conference. If we can have that kind of offensive improvement look for a 9-win season.

smashmouth98 writes:

It will be interesting to see how the PT for RB is distributed. The D was probably limited in their scheme. Time will tell.

ethanfrome writes:

I wonder how Bowling Green is doing?

makessense writes:

Last year the reason we couldnt score was mainly because we shot ourself in the foot over and over again. It sounds like that might be over.
Vanelia def or not we were our own worst enemy last year. So without all the mistakes we have a chance to sucseed thank god. If you remember when Randy was hear that was our biggest problem to, penalties, penalties, and more bang bang bang my foot has a hole in it and another drive is dead. If you thank about it football is a lot like every day life, in order to sucseed you have to have momentum and once it is gathered it begins to make steam and thats when you realy see success. Big plays are usually a product of momentum or rather the lack of killing your self. Last few years we had no chance for momentum and now we do, roll on Coach we love you and support you.

Laydbakvol writes:

Dare we dream?

vol_chaz writes:

The last few years, we all knew our obvious play calling, and so did our opponents. This year, nobody knows.. A mix of Cheney's Purdue teams, or CLK's USC teams? Thats alot of film to watch if you play against us. The only thing we revealed in the spring game, was that we can run a bootleg play...;)

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Different days dawning on the Hill.

hotrodvol writes:

2011 QB at practice today UT looks to have a good shot at him.

http://tennessee.rivals.com/viewprosp...

DennisVols writes:

Competitive, physical practices will become competitive, physical games.
This ain't your Fulmer offense. It is going to be physical and it will punish the competition's defense as games wear on.
It will be better and just maybe better than anyone thought it could be in just one season.
Keeping it Real
Go Vols!!!

rockytopatl writes:

in response to ShaversChoice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Unfortunately, you won't hear that from our current play by play man. And there is no reason you shouldn't hear it.

MAG writes:

We have not had a report from an early scrimmage like this in years on the offense side of the ball. I am sure we have along way to go, but this seems to be going well so far.

coalvol writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

Unfortunately, you won't hear that from our current play by play man. And there is no reason you shouldn't hear it.

Nothing against Kesling but with all the changes going on up there I wish they would include a new play by play man. I have just never gotten fired up by Bob's broadcasts. I know that John Ward was one of a kind but surely they can find someone more exciting than Bob Kesling.

ClearVol writes:

Here, here! Please can we get a new play by play guy. Not only
does kessling miss calls, wrongly identify players often
etc but he's just plain old boring to listen to. I grew up listening to John instead of the tv guys but now, heck no

cleVOLand writes:

I must say, John Adams, I have considered you to be a complete tool for several years, but now Fulmer is gone you have been writing some decent stuff. In fact, it seems you have become one of the most 'pro- UT' writers out there.

This is a welcome change and on that should help your career and the KNS' readership.

All aboard the Lane Train!

VB EB4H GBO

deadheadvol writes:

in response to makessense:

Last year the reason we couldnt score was mainly because we shot ourself in the foot over and over again. It sounds like that might be over.
Vanelia def or not we were our own worst enemy last year. So without all the mistakes we have a chance to sucseed thank god. If you remember when Randy was hear that was our biggest problem to, penalties, penalties, and more bang bang bang my foot has a hole in it and another drive is dead. If you thank about it football is a lot like every day life, in order to sucseed you have to have momentum and once it is gathered it begins to make steam and thats when you realy see success. Big plays are usually a product of momentum or rather the lack of killing your self. Last few years we had no chance for momentum and now we do, roll on Coach we love you and support you.

great point makessense, I try to forget the Randy years, seems iike the team got more complacent every year under him, off topic, your spell check is on vacation, go vols

give_him_6 writes:

in response to ethanfrome:

I wonder how Bowling Green is doing?

LoL!!! Well you know what dumb ol Clawson said...this offense takes a good year to get used to so look for improvement the second year of running it. LMAO!!!

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to ShaversChoice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You may hear "into the chackerboard",but until John Ward comes back you will not hear "give him six" .Darn,I miss the colorful Ward and the knowledge of Bill Anderson.

sleiii writes:

in response to deadheadvol:

great point makessense, I try to forget the Randy years, seems iike the team got more complacent every year under him, off topic, your spell check is on vacation, go vols

Makessense's is as authentic a voice of a true Vol (and football) fan as you can find--no spell check could ever make it more so.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

I do believe we shall come by land this fall.

We have the "bevy" of running backs.

Perchance the bouncepass will not be needed as much.

PHIVOL writes:

It is as simple as the 1998 recipe: Run first, pass second. We have not been able to be a run first offense since then and this year we appear to be getting back on track. This RF;PS recipe takes all of the pressure off of the QB and holds the OLine accountable. That line got a free ride from Fulmer and that is not the case with Kiffin. Competition has made this line better. Under Fulmer, Josh McNeil would already be penciled in. Not now. Run first eats up a ton of game clock and keeps Tebow OFF THE FIELD. The OL and run game is in essence our best defense. I like the concept of 8 minute drives. Let's wear out opposing defenses and keep the opposing offense COLD. The poor QBs have had it all on them and team play should not have to be that way. This recipe is a championship recipe plain and simple...and this happened against the best DLine coach in college football.

PHIVOL writes:

How many passes did Tee throw in 1998? We ran 80% of the time.....especially during the Florida game that year....that won 12 games.

volstokke writes:

The offense may show signs of improvement,but its against a defense were Berry and McCoy are on the sidelines most of the day. I dont trust anything about our offense yet. Remember last year how goood Crompton was in practice? We have the talent to be a descent offense this year. The big problem this decade has been a lack of discipline. Hopefully the coaches crack skulls this year and get the most out of the players.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to ThePhantom_96_06_08:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Having no offense gets swallowed up in this league, ala 2008.

footballtime writes:

wow Adams can you ever not mention a comparison fromFulmers way and Kiffins?...we all know you had an agenda and still do but come on...you know nothing about football you are a sissy waterboy we all know it...just resign

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