Notebook: Hardesty prides self on not fumbling

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ATLANTA — Montario Hardesty believes the streak dates back to last spring.

Lane Kiffin isn’t quite so sure about that.

But even if the Tennessee running back and the Vols coach don’t exactly agree on the last time Hardesty fumbled in practice, they at least haven’t had to worry about him doing it in a game this season.

“I put it on the ground a couple times during spring ball, but none during fall camp,” Hardesty said. “That was one of my biggest goals coming in was I wanted to get better in all aspects of the game, running, blocking, pass-catching, but the main thing was I didn’t want to let the ball go.

“I’ve been able to get through the regular season without a fumble and I’m just keep working to keep that streak going through the bowl game.”

Virginia Tech (9-3, 6-2 ACC) won’t make that easy on New Year’s Eve; but, like the rest of the Vols, Hardesty is prepared for a ball-hawking defense since he plays against one each day in practice.

UT (7-5, 4-4 SEC) had some interception issues early in the season, but it has been reliable with the football in hand and only coughed up six fumbles all season to help finish with a plus-four turnover margin. None of them belonged to Hardesty despite piling up 264 carries, although his coach says the Vols might have forced at least one from him sometime during fall practice.

“I don’t want to say that it’s not right, but the film doesn’t lie and I remember one coming out,” Kiffin said. “But we’ll go with him. Whatever’s working, whatever it is (264) carries without a fumble.

“We do a lot of drills — today we started individual with ball-security drills — and sometimes it takes awhile to get it going. It takes a little time, and you’ve seen the difference from the first half of the season to the second half in the way we’ve taken care of the ball. All of the players are buying in. Hopefully we’ll continue that.”

The official streak depends on it.

Brown Still Sidelined: Bryce Brown has one more test left this morning before he can be cleared for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but he seemed to pass a big one Sunday.

Though he was limited again and held out of the contact portion of practice, Brown, who is recovering from a concussion, didn’t report having a headache since after a workout on Saturday and could return for the Vols today.

“It was just headaches and just not being able to run around, feeling a little light-headed, so they just held me off to give me another day,” Brown said. “I did a little bit today, no contact, and I’m just trying to work my way back in and get ready for the bowl game 100 percent.

“The trainers are doing a lot to get me back and I’m just taking it one day at a time to hopefully be ready to go.”

As he recovers from the concussion suffered last week in practice, Brown admitted it wasn’t the first time headaches have caused him to sit out. He never missed a game in high school due to migraines, but occasionally they would keep him off the field during the week.

Noticing A Draft: UT senior offensive tackle Chris Scott perused NFL mock drafts on the Internet even when he was in high school.

That was for fun. But the next draft will be all business.

“I think I’ve developed my talent a long way,” Scott said after Sunday’s practice. “I credit that to my coaches — Coach (Lane) Kiffin, Coach (Jim) Chaney and Coach (James) Cregg.

“I think I did pretty well this year. The coaches have helped me.”

The competition has helped, too. Defensive end has been one of the SEC’s strongest positions the last two years, so Scott repeatedly has gone against future NFL players.

“I think they helped me out — as well as I helped them out,” he said.

Asked to pick his toughest challenge, he had a surprising answer. It wasn’t Florida’s Carlos Dunlap or Auburn’s Antonio Coleman.

“All of them are pretty good, but if I had to pinpoint one, I would say Broderick Stewart of Vanderbilt,” Scott said.

Bama Comparison: UT linebacker LaMarcus Thompson didn’t hesitate when asked if Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams reminded him of anyone in the SEC.

He immediately thought of “the Alabama running back.” And he wasn’t referring to Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.

“I would say (Alabama freshman) Trent Richardson,” Thompson said. “He has that power and speed. You definitely have to gang-tackle a back like that.

“Williams reminds me of him.”

Head Inside: After two days at Decatur High School, the Vols will settle into their new home at the Georgia Dome today for the first of three practices.

Typically Kiffin doesn’t take the team to the stadium before the game when UT is on the road, but he certainly won’t complain about moving practice inside for the rest of the week.

“As they say in ‘Hoosiers,’ ‘It’s the same length, everything’s the same no matter where you are,’” Kiffin said. “But we’ll go in there, and it’ll be good to be out of the weather conditions. Other than that I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

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Comments » 22

PoochPuntOn3rdDown writes:

Glad to hear Brown is feeling better. Hope he's back for the Bowl. TN will need him...

dvhill100 writes:

Hardesty has been a beast for us. Class act all the way.

Ringside writes:

Happy fo rthis young man and I hope he stays healthy. I look forward to watching him on Sundays.

huntined#565710 writes:

Will need to hold on to it against VT

abnerPeabody writes:

Quite an accomplishment not to have fumbled with that many carries.Hope the streak continues in the Chick Bowl.Turn overs may be the difference in this game .Va.Tech takes care of the ball well also.Glad to see Hardy being so successful his Sr.year.Wish Brown a speedy recovery.If he is not needed,I would rather he not play.Would be better if he did not take a chance of compounding the current injury.Kiffin will do the right thing I believe.I look for Tennessee to win this game and build confidense for next year.Tenn.17 Va.Tech14.That is if it dosen't come to kicking game.If it does,I am afraid we may lose a close game.GOBBLE,GOBBLE,GOBBLE.GO BIG ORANGE.

sidwalkvol writes:

"I'm just keep working..."

Lord, these guys need a proofreader.

Psychovol writes:

Knock on wood.

GR82BaTennesseeVOL writes:

Hardesty HAS been a beast for us this year. He's been our MVP on offense, in my humble opinion--no intended slight to Jonathan Crompton, whose turnaround has been nothing short of phenomenal.

However--and I hate to be the buzzkill on this--Hardesty DID fumble in a game this year. I don't remember which game, but Montario fumbled the ball after catching a screen pass. I understand that he still didn't technically fumble on a carry (as it was a pass play rather than a running play), but the fact remains that Hardesty was carrying the ball (after a pass reception) and fumbled it away when he got hit.

Again, no disrespect to the man or the excellent contribution he made to our team this year.

Txvol57 writes:

in response to GR82BaTennesseeVOL:

Hardesty HAS been a beast for us this year. He's been our MVP on offense, in my humble opinion--no intended slight to Jonathan Crompton, whose turnaround has been nothing short of phenomenal.

However--and I hate to be the buzzkill on this--Hardesty DID fumble in a game this year. I don't remember which game, but Montario fumbled the ball after catching a screen pass. I understand that he still didn't technically fumble on a carry (as it was a pass play rather than a running play), but the fact remains that Hardesty was carrying the ball (after a pass reception) and fumbled it away when he got hit.

Again, no disrespect to the man or the excellent contribution he made to our team this year.

Had you have been paying attention to this board through out the year it has been said many many times that hardesty has not fumbled on a run play...the fumble was on a pass play like you said and it was against WKU...it was a swing pass and he hadnt even crossed the line of scrimmage yet. Your a glass half empty kind of guy arent you.

GR82BaTennesseeVOL writes:

in response to Txvol57:

Had you have been paying attention to this board through out the year it has been said many many times that hardesty has not fumbled on a run play...the fumble was on a pass play like you said and it was against WKU...it was a swing pass and he hadnt even crossed the line of scrimmage yet. Your a glass half empty kind of guy arent you.

No, i'm totally not a "glass half empty kind of guy"... I really didn't mean to come across that way. I'm actually very much a glass half-full kind of guy.

I was merely pointing out that while Hardesty does deserve a ton of praise, it is a little bit misleading to say he hasn't fumbled all year. He HAS fumbled, just not on a running play, which the article fails to mention.

Again, no slight intended to #2 or to the incredible contribution he has made to the success we've had this year.

If YOU had been paying attention to this board throughout the year, you would know that I've been a huge supporter of Montario Hardesty since even before the season started. As early as back in the spring, there were some people on here doubting whether Montario would hold up for a full season and others who were questioning whether we should even care if he did (questioning his effectiveness as a runner). I staunchly defended him even then, pointing to the fact that in the 2008-2009 season he was a much more effective runner than Arian Foster and accounted for more TDs.

Anyway, I'm not trying to get into a pissing match w/ you. I'm a pretty freakin' optimistic guy, and kinda took offense to your pokes at me in your post.

As I said, I realize the slant the article was using in that Hardesty hasn't fumbled on a RUNNING PLAY, but just felt it was misleading and not "the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth."

GO VOLS!!

DevilVols writes:

My hat is off to you Montario. The fight in your heart is something i can only hope bleeds over into the future of Tennessee football. I haven't seen a Tennessee back fight and scrape for every inch since the Travis Henry days. If we had 22 starters with your determination we would have gone 10-2 this year. I'm cheering for you to get the 156 in the bowl game and i'll be cheering for you in the NFL. Good luck

Down_The_Field writes:

he's always reminded me of roger craig.

hangs on to the ball and never stops the leg drive.

DevilVols writes:

Oh and i hope Bryce Brown has been taking notes. It takes heart and soul to be one of the top backs in the SEC

jawbreaker writes:

I'm not really superstitious...okay, I am. So, why are we talking about Hardesty not fumbling just four days before the big game? I'm with Psychovol, "knock on wood"!

dvols writes:

f u m b l e ... he has also not missed a free throw in 132 attempts......clank

straightshooter writes:

While I am not superstitious, this article sets up Hardesty to have a bad game at holding on to the ball. It's Murphy's Law, and regarding a back fumbling, they all do, some much worse than others of course. It's not about if they fumble, it's about when,where in the game, on the field and how often they fumble. Please no articles about mistakes not happening. In recent UT history when I think of critical fumbles at critical times changing the game completely. Alabama and Penn State in the bowl game, best examples. Player name not mentioned intentionally.

Mule_Days_King writes:

Thanks KNS. Now he will fumble twice in the game.
You have killed the mojo.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to jawbreaker:

I'm not really superstitious...okay, I am. So, why are we talking about Hardesty not fumbling just four days before the big game? I'm with Psychovol, "knock on wood"!

The key to our offensive success starts with Hardesty and VA TECH knows it too..The last time I heard comments about A back never having a fumble was on CBS; The play before Ingram fumbled the ball and UT recovered.I try not to be superstitious but this pointless article is bad karma!!

gnm53108 writes:

Karma schmarma.

“That was one of my biggest goals coming in was I wanted to get better in all aspects of the game, running, blocking, pass-catching, but the main thing was I didn’t want to let the ball go."

Thats the reason he's not fumbling.

Vol_in_Mich writes:

Nice to have an article about the Vols for a change.

GO VOLS!!!

gnm53108 writes:

Would love to see Montario have a monster day,but got a feeling it's gonna be Johnathon that has the bigger day.

Fryinpansvols writes:

in response to straightshooter:

While I am not superstitious, this article sets up Hardesty to have a bad game at holding on to the ball. It's Murphy's Law, and regarding a back fumbling, they all do, some much worse than others of course. It's not about if they fumble, it's about when,where in the game, on the field and how often they fumble. Please no articles about mistakes not happening. In recent UT history when I think of critical fumbles at critical times changing the game completely. Alabama and Penn State in the bowl game, best examples. Player name not mentioned intentionally.

That would be Mr. Arian Foster! Mr. Fumble in the most critical point of the game! Which by the way, he is playing very well for the Houston Texans. 80 yards and a touchdown yesterday against the Dolphins. Back to Hardesty, this guy like I have said all year might be one of the most under rated backs not only in UT History but also in College Football. GBO!

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