Poole, running game not getting much help

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray hands the ball off the tailback Tauren Poole against Ole Miss at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010. Tennessee won the game 52-14.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray hands the ball off the tailback Tauren Poole against Ole Miss at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010. Tennessee won the game 52-14.

Poole close to 1000 yard goal; Dooley praises "great young man"

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On the surface, the numbers don't add up. Derek Dooley even hesitated before trying to explain it Monday.

Tennessee junior running back Tauren Poole has just as many 100-yard rushing games (six) as Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, a Heisman trophy frontrunner, a total that's tied for the most among SEC ball-carriers. If he cracks the century mark Saturday at Vanderbilt (TV: CSS, 7:30 p.m.) and against Kentucky in the regular-season finale, Poole will not only clear 1,000 yards for the year, but will also set the UT record for most 100-yard games in a season, breaking the record of seven set by Travis Stephens in 2001.

Yet the Vols, as a team, are having a season to forget on the ground. Despite Poole's 107-yard effort against Ole Miss last week, they rank last in the SEC and 97th in the nation, averaging 118.9 yards per game and just 3.73 yards per carry.

"I don't know how best to say it," Dooley said. "The consistency of our run game has not been what we want it to be and that's not all on Tauren."

Of the other 11 starting running backs in the SEC, Poole has received the least amount of assistance from his backups. Poole's 836 yards account for more than 70 percent of the Vols' 1,189 for the season. Freshman Rajion Neal and sophomore David Oku have combined for just 327 yards on 73 carries.

It's a total that only four, true second-team running backs across the league have failed to reach by themselves this season.

"They've got to be more productive when they go in," Dooley said after Wednesday's practice. "I don't know how else to say it."

The past two games have provided ample opportunities for Neal and Oku, but neither has been able to pick up any significant gains. The duo has just 33 yards on 17 carries in UT's past two wins, and Neal has the Vols' only turnover during that stretch, as he fumbled on a fourth-quarter carry against Memphis.

"They just have to slow everything down in their head," Poole said. "They need to focus. I'm not saying that I'm always focused, but I pay attention. I pay attention to details. Sometimes details seem like they don't matter until you get in the game and they really do."

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said Poole's production, which includes a 5.5 yards-per-carry average, has contributed to Neal's and Oku's stalled output, and remains optimistic about their respective futures.

"It seems like every week one moves in front of the other one, so it's kind of fun to watch that competitive battle going on," he said. "We're very happy with both of those kids, and they're going to be very good football players as they compete their way to earn their spots."

Injury Roundup: After a setback in Tuesday's practice, cornerback Eric Gordon (concussion) wore a red, non-contact jersey and largely sat out Wednesday.

Wide receiver Zach Rogers (concussion) and safety Janzen Jackson (ankle) wore red and participated.

Right guard Zach Fulton (ankle) participated, but is not 100 percent, Dooley said. His status for Saturday remains uncertain.

"I'll feel better when (Fulton) comes back," Dooley said. "Every time somebody comes back, it's like starting over again because they don't have a lot to draw from."

Trash Talk: Linebacker Nick Reveiz and defensive end Chris Walker know Vanderbilt defensive tackle T.J. Greenstone well - well enough to hear through the grapevine what Greenstone's been saying about the Vols this week.

"I think he said something about how he hated Tennessee, hated the 'T,' couldn't stand Rocky Top and all that good stuff," Reveiz said.

Reveiz said he and Walker met Greenstone at an Athletes in Action camp this past summer and have remained close. Reveiz said he let Walker handle their collective retaliation.

"I just laughed," Reveiz said. "I try not to get too caught up in bulletin board material and try not to supply it, either. I just try to not say much."

High Praise: Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell had nothing but glowing words for freshman quarterback Tyler Bray when he spoke on Wednesday's SEC teleconference.

"I see a young man that seems to see the field extremely well, understands what they're trying to do," Caldwell said. "I've been very impressed with him, his arm strength. I know as young as he is, he's still doing a super job of seeing and understanding what's going on."

Andrew Gribble covers Tennessee football and recruiting. He may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble/

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Comments » 35

tnsportsman writes:

ROFLMAO, vaaaanderbilt commode-a-dores produce bulletin board smack talk, now that's funny!

Let me help you out Nick, vaaaanderbilt YOU SUCK, there will be 30,000 BIG ORANGE CLAD FAITHFUL in that pitiful 40,000 seat old high school stadium that WE OWN every 2 years!

DAMN I HATE vaaanderbilt!

GO VOLS, WE ARE THE ONLY REAL UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE!

daniellovesutfootball writes:

Since this is on CSS and I have direct tv, am I gonna have to listen to this game on the radio, or will it possibly be covered on one of direct tv's sports channels? Anyone know?

rockytopatl writes:

in response to daniellovesutfootball:

Since this is on CSS and I have direct tv, am I gonna have to listen to this game on the radio, or will it possibly be covered on one of direct tv's sports channels? Anyone know?

Watch it online on espn3.com.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

Poole is a beast! Hope he gets his 100 and then some! I say let the band play "Rocky Top" longer and louder than ever just to tweek the Commode-dores!...that's assuming we are scoring early and often! GBO!

tnsportsman writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

Watch it online on espn3.com.

If you have purchased ESPN Game Plan on Direct TV you can get the game, if not only on Comcast

mercyseat writes:

O-LINE....
OPEN IT UP FOR POOLE AND PROTECT TYLER.WE HAVE GOT TO BEAT VANDY
SHOW NO MERCY D-LINE
CREATE THOSE TURNOVERS AND BALL HAWK
TEAM WITH THE FEWEST MISTAKES WINS!
CHAMPIONS ON THE FIELD!
CHAMPIONS IN THE STANDS!
GBO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

volfan4life1998 writes:

Glad to see Gordon, and Jackson back.. we can't afford for them to be out. Hopefully Teague makes his way back this week.

cloudodust writes:

After seeing Jackson hobbling post Mississippi, I'd be surprised if he's near 100% Saturday. Wolf may fill in. My gues is he's getting the practice time this week with the 1st squad... We'll need Jackson nearer to 100% come Kentucky. Gordon, well, we know how they treat concussions. It would not surprise me to see both these guys held out against Vandy...

10SE writes:

I hate to say this, but listening to Bob Kessling on the radio is very difficult. I know most of us were spoiled by John Ward, but this guy is way out of his league. Surely we can find a better play by play guy.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Need to fold up Vandy like a cheap suitcase.

GBO

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

If TJ Green thinks he hates the 'T' now - wait until Saturday!

daniellovesutfootball writes:

Thanks ya'll!!!! lookin forward to a great game saturday!!

GO VOLS!!!

volfan73120#211815 writes:

Since this article speaks of Cam Newton, some of you might be interested in reading this link. It seems like there may be a powerful story coming out of Auburn. It also explains how the FBI got involved.
http://www.tigerdroppings.com/rant/me...

songd#1391434 writes:

in response to daniellovesutfootball:

Since this is on CSS and I have direct tv, am I gonna have to listen to this game on the radio, or will it possibly be covered on one of direct tv's sports channels? Anyone know?

I have direct tv and it is on channel 613

boogimn3 writes:

Wow...The silence about Simms is deafening!...Nobody is even mentioning his name anymore...I would like to be a fly on his wall to know what he is thinking right now...

UTbassdrummer writes:

No kidding about the hush on Simms. I mean, we mostly only ever talked about his toughness. That's not much stock if you aren't winning. It just means you're WALKING off the field with your head down, instead of rolling off on a gurney. I appreciate Simms and hope, as often as he is under center, that he keeps having fun, improving, and beating whoever is in our way.

shrug

gillblog writes:

in response to UTbassdrummer:

No kidding about the hush on Simms. I mean, we mostly only ever talked about his toughness. That's not much stock if you aren't winning. It just means you're WALKING off the field with your head down, instead of rolling off on a gurney. I appreciate Simms and hope, as often as he is under center, that he keeps having fun, improving, and beating whoever is in our way.

shrug

Simms is tough at least in the sense that he has maintained composure in a very bad situation over the year. But, unless Bray is injured, Simms will not start another game for the Vols.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to gillblog:

Simms is tough at least in the sense that he has maintained composure in a very bad situation over the year. But, unless Bray is injured, Simms will not start another game for the Vols.

Barring injury Tyler is our starting qb untill he goes to the nfl.

SickEmSmokey writes:

in response to daniellovesutfootball:

Since this is on CSS and I have direct tv, am I gonna have to listen to this game on the radio, or will it possibly be covered on one of direct tv's sports channels? Anyone know?

It will be on TV. The Memphis game was on the same channel. I don't remember what the exact channel is but it will be on. Channel 730, maybe?

OTPVol writes:

Vanderbilt is the only team whose bulletin board material includes calculus equations.

leedsvol2007 writes:

Tauren Poole is a reason why recruiting ratings should not be taken as gospel. If memory serves he was rated a 3 star out of high school yet was a coveted recruit in the eyes of Phil Fulmer.

Running behind basically an all freshman offensive line that has had players drop in and out all season due to injury he has put up excellent numbers and made some very fine runs.

Given the youth and inexperience of our offensive line I am excited about next years prospects from that group.

I am hoping the experiences they have endured will give them the attitude of a similar group of players in 1988.

With injuries to many veteran players guys like Patrick Lenoir, John Fisher, Antone Davis and Charles McCrae were forced into the fire before they were ready or in the case of McCrae when he was moved from defense to offense.

The next year along with Eric Still they formed the now legendary TVA.

They benefited from their early experiences by building themselves in the weight room and practice field becoming a line that over the next few seasons bulldozed teams off the line of scrimmage.

Let's hope history repeats!

GoVols!

mtowntim writes:

Yeah, Bryce could beat any defender to the SIDELINE!

Poole, keep stacking up those yards!

We are very proud to call you a Vol!

orangeman1 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Brown got the opportunity last year and didnt perform half as good as Poole is behind a green offensive line. Maybe you should check your facts before spouting off wrong info too. You would consider Oregon a good team wouldnt you. Well Poole rushed for 162 that day. LSU any good? Poole got over 100 vs them too. Why do you think Brown left? He knew he would be backing up Poole. Heck, if Kiffin hadnt run Lennon Creer off by giving Brown the backup job without earning it, UT would have the 1 -2 punch, but either way, Poole has proven he is a good back. Just Sayin

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey VandyGrad, how many 100 yard rushers does Vandy have this season? That's what I thought (crickets chirping).

Poole has gone over 100 yards against Oregon, LSU and Alabama. Pretty good for a fourth-string back under Fast Lane last season. I'm sure the Dores have a fourth-string back who will do that next season.

I do believe that the Vols need either Neal or Oku to steps up with some quality carries to provide that "good 1-2 punch" as you call it. But "prima donna" Brown, forget it. He's much better off at K-State where he can be the feature back. If he was as good as advertised last season, Hardesty would never have gotten off the bench.

Thank you for your...I guess one could call it insight.

VOLliven2it writes:

We don't need 5 stars who walk out on the team. If Brycie had stayed with this o-line, he would have been hurt or quit after the Florida game. Then we would have Poole as the featured back anyway. If he gets 164 more yards to a thousand for the year, he needs to be highly applauded. Next year should move our rushing numbers notably downward in the conference and nation. I am glad we have Tauren Poole and not a guy without enough guts to ask the coach face to face for release. I don't care how many stars by a name or in a guy's eyes, I want ones who will play their hearts out for the Volunteers. While I do not mind if they have a lot of stars, I just want their hearts to desire for Tennessee to be a better team. Poole has done his best this year and I would venture to say very few would get a hundred yards on some of the better defenses we have played. On the other side, when the scores are closer in days ahead, running will be more of a possibility. Count on that!

dynasty101 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Fail
100+against LSU
100+against BAMA
100+against Oregon

Bryce Brown-Most overrated #1 recruit, Palarady(however you spell it) is becoming the next overrated #1 kicking recruit. Seems like he is getting weaker week by week.

DancingOutlaw writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'll take a dogged 3 star who has been chomping at the bit for 2 years over a 5 star primadonna who runs away from undersized corners and only plays for himself.

mercyseat writes:

in response to orangeman1:

Brown got the opportunity last year and didnt perform half as good as Poole is behind a green offensive line. Maybe you should check your facts before spouting off wrong info too. You would consider Oregon a good team wouldnt you. Well Poole rushed for 162 that day. LSU any good? Poole got over 100 vs them too. Why do you think Brown left? He knew he would be backing up Poole. Heck, if Kiffin hadnt run Lennon Creer off by giving Brown the backup job without earning it, UT would have the 1 -2 punch, but either way, Poole has proven he is a good back. Just Sayin

Dont forget Alabama Orangeman. It's been years since a back put up 100 yds on their defense.BTW......? I thought we were not going to hear from you (vandygrad) until after saturdays game. You're just like your quotes UNRELIABLE anyway... injoy the beatdown that's coming, and have a good day!

finn writes:

in response to volfan73120#211815:

Since this article speaks of Cam Newton, some of you might be interested in reading this link. It seems like there may be a powerful story coming out of Auburn. It also explains how the FBI got involved.
http://www.tigerdroppings.com/rant/me...

Wow! If a fraction of the allegations in that link are true, the SEC better start looking for Auburn's replacement. I initially took the 'innocent before proven guilty' stance with Cam but after reading that overview of the program, I still think Newton deserves due process but he'd be watching things from the bench if I were Chizik. Very interesting stuff and, at face value, it seems like way too much for some opposing fan with a bias to just make up.

givehim6 writes:

in response to orangeman1:

Brown got the opportunity last year and didnt perform half as good as Poole is behind a green offensive line. Maybe you should check your facts before spouting off wrong info too. You would consider Oregon a good team wouldnt you. Well Poole rushed for 162 that day. LSU any good? Poole got over 100 vs them too. Why do you think Brown left? He knew he would be backing up Poole. Heck, if Kiffin hadnt run Lennon Creer off by giving Brown the backup job without earning it, UT would have the 1 -2 punch, but either way, Poole has proven he is a good back. Just Sayin

Glad you mentioned the Kiffin Creer thing if I remember Creer before being ran off was on track to be better then Pool. But Pool not haveing a good beck up worries me, one wrong hit would put UT one dimensional and thats not good.

givehim6 writes:

in response to givehim6:

Glad you mentioned the Kiffin Creer thing if I remember Creer before being ran off was on track to be better then Pool. But Pool not haveing a good beck up worries me, one wrong hit would put UT one dimensional and thats not good.

back up not beck up, sorry guys.

CabanX writes:

Jay Graham 1995.

Ran for 100 yards ten times, check the 96 guide.

steelersman42 writes:

and we still have Toney Williams, too. why does no one ever talk about him?

dk writes:

Do they not teach spelling in school anymore?

ridge_runner16#368042 writes:

Poole would have over 1,000 yards already if the OC could call plays that would mix up the run. If you pay attention to the run game, 97% of the running plays are called while the QB is under center. However 97% of the passing plays come out of the shotgun. So if your a defense and you see the QB under center you have a 97% chance it will be a run and vice versa for pass. This has been the case all year and I am amazed we even get 50 yards rushing a game. It's not the line and not the running backs its the play calling. It hard to run the ball when the defense knows what is coming and puts 8 or 9 in the box every running play.

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