Tyler Bray after Saturday's scrimmage
The offense claimed it had the edge.
The defense responded by pointing out its advantage in the second half.
With no clear edge for either side of the ball, the clear winner in the third and final scrimmage Saturday at Neyland Stadium was Tennessee.
After three weeks of work, that was exactly how Derek Dooley would have drawn it up as the Vols coach starts turning his attention away from training camp and on to preparation for the season opener against Montana in less than two weeks.
"I've kind of seen that all camp," Dooley said. "We haven't had a lot of those disaster days. We had a real bad one the other day on offense, and we had a rough night as coaches.
"But for the most part it's been a very competitive, equally competitive camp. That's what you want. The deeper we get as a team, the better recruits we keep bringing in on offense and defense, that's what you're going to have."
The Vols didn't have much of that balance through two scrimmages, turning the third into a rubber match of sorts.
But a draw worked just fine for a team trying to build some confidence and generate momentum heading into the season, particularly since pretty much everybody left the field with something to feel good about.
Quarterback Tyler Bray had his most efficient passing outing according to statistics provided by UT from the closed workout, completing 10 of his 20 attempts for 144 yards with a touchdown. Freshman running back Marlin Lane continued his push for early playing time this fall with 13 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown.
The Vols didn't have any eye-popping individual numbers on the defensive side of the ball, but Curt Maggitt and Austin Johnson both chipped in four tackles to help lead a unit that came up with some crucial stops in two-minute situations late in the scrimmage to finish on a high note.
Even recently converted defensive back Anthony Anderson added a highlight, turning the only pass from Nash Nance in the scrimmage into a one-handed touchdown from 10 yards out in the corner of the end zone.
"It was both ways today," Johnson said. "The offense really came out with a lot of intensity, they pushed the ball down on us. I think they put together some really good drives, they ran the ball really well. But I felt like we fought back, we came back in the second half and did a little bit better. That's what we've got to do, we've got to keep battling.
"I definitely think on both sides it was the best of the three. We had the first one, they had the second one, today was a little bit of us both having good things. We've just got to keep working and get ready for Montana."
That date — Sept. 3 — is starting to creep up for UT, and while there are a couple practices left early in the week before game preparation officially begins, the focus is beginning to sharpen on the Grizzlies.
And after three weeks of battling each other to a stalemate, the Vols are clearly ready for a different opponent.
"I don't know how the defense feels, because I like to feel we win that battle every time," Bray joked. "As far as the offense went, this was the best of the three. The line blocked great, we made the throws, made the catches and made the runs. That was the difference today from the other two scrimmages.
"(The defense) can look at it however they want. We're both getting better, and that's all that matters."
TENNESSEE FOOTBALL SCRIMMAGE STATISTICS
Palardy 37 field goal.
Dallas 5 pass from Bray. Palardy kick.
Lane 2 rush. (No PAT)
Juin 2 rush. (No PAT)
Anderson 10 pass from Nance. Palardy kick.
Toney 7 rush. Rhome kick.
Palardy 37 field goal.
Rushing (No.-Yds.-TD-Long) – Jaron Toney 10-83-1-28; Marlin Lane 13-49-1-12; Tauren Poole 7-28-0-12; Reggie Juin 10-17-1-10; Tyler Bray 2-4-0-5; Da’Rick Rogers 1-2-0-2; Justin Worley 1-(-6)-0-(-6); Matt Simms 2-(-16)-0-(-5).
Passing (Att.-Comp.-Int.-Yds.-TD-Long) – Tyler Bray 20-10-0-144-1-28; Matt Simms 8-3-0-51-0-35; Justin Worley 8-3-0-0-17-11; Nash Nance 1-1-0-10-1-10
Receiving (No.-Yds.-TD-Long) – Da’Rick Rogers 3-44-0-33; Justin Hunter 1-28-0-28; Channing Fugate 1-24-0-24; Anthony Anderson 2-16-1-10; DeAnthony Arnett 1-15-0-15; Vincent Dallas 2-12-1-7; Brendan Downs 1-12-0-12; Naz Oliver 1-11-0-11; Dakota Summers 1-11-0-11; Mychal Rivera 1-9-0-9; Tyler Drummer 1-5-0-5.
Defense – John Propst 7 tackles, .5 TFL (-1); Curt Maggitt 4 tackles, .5 TFL (-1); Austin Johnson 4 tackles, 1 QB hurry; Brian Randolph 4 tackles, 1 PBU; Marsalis Teague 3 tackles; Prentiss Waggner 3 tackles; Marlon Walls 3 tackles, .5 TFL (0); Shane Reveiz 3 tackles, 1 TFL (-3); Dontavis Sapp 3 tackles, .5 TFL (-1); Art Evans 3 tackles, 1 PBU; Maurice Couch 3 tackles, .5 TFL (0); Justin Coleman 3 tackles; Jordan Williams 3 tackles, 1.5 TFL (-14), 1.5 sacks (-14); Willie Bohannon 2 tackles, 1 FF; Rod Wilks 2 tackles, 1 TFL (-5), 3 QB hurries, 1 sack; Daryl Vereen 2 tackles, 1 QB hurry; Ben Martin 2 tackles, .5 TFL (0); Joseph Ayres 2 tackles, 1 TFL (-3), FR, .5 sacks (-3); Janzen Jackson 1 tackle; Corey Miller 1 tackle; Izauea Lanier 1 tackle; Nigel Mitchell-Thornton 1 tackle, 1 QB hurry; Trevarris Saulsberry 1 tackle; Arthur Jeffery 1 tackle; Brent Brewer 1 tackle, 1 PBU; AJ Johnson 1 tackle; Jacques Smith 1 QB hurry; Pat Martin 1 QB hurry; Byron Moore 2 PBU.
Field Goals – Michael Palardy 2-of-3, long 37; Chip Rhome 0-of-2.
Punting (No.-Avg.-Long) – Matt Darr 4-36.8-40; Michael Palardy 4-36.3-45.