Running game takes some positive steps

Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms (12) throws the ball during the 1st quarter of the game against LSU at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011.  LSU won the game 38-7 over Tennessee.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms (12) throws the ball during the 1st quarter of the game against LSU at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011. LSU won the game 38-7 over Tennessee. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Game recap: LSU 38, Tennessee 7

The final numbers were still below average, but for Tennessee, it was a major sign of progress.

After two games where they failed to even finish with positive rushing yards, the Vols needed some sort of positivity to build on with their stagnant running game. They got just that during the first half of Saturday's 38-7 loss to No. 1 LSU at Neyland Stadium.

Boosted by a refreshed attitude, a strong effort from a hobbled senior and even a new quarterback, the Vols (3-3, 0-3 SEC) finished with 111 yards on 29 attempts. Thanks to a first-half kneel-down, their average yards per carry fell below 4, but opponents have certainly done worse against the Tigers (7-0, 4-0), who came into Saturday's game ranked fourth in the country in rush defense.

"We just basically decided as an offense we were going to run it down their throats," left guard Alex Bullard said. "We got on our man. It wasn't perfect, but we were able to get all 11 guys doing our jobs. That's something we haven't done consistently throughout the year that we did a little bit better of a job today."

Though there were the usual mishaps and negative yardage blunders, the Vols' only scoring drive of the game provided a handful of positive highlights they'll have a chance to analyze before next week's trip to No. 2 Alabama, which boasts the nation's top rushing defense.

Following the Vols' longest offensive play of the game, a 44-yard catch-and-run pass from Matt Simms to Da'Rick Rogers midway through the second quarter, the Vols retreated to the sidelines for a timeout. Unlike the first quarter, when Simms followed up a long completion to Rajion Neal with another deep ball that wound up intercepted, the Vols refocused their efforts to the ground.

"I said to all the guys in the huddle, 'This is our chance to prove it right now that we can run the ball,' " right tackle Ja'Wuan James said. "If we get yards on this, it will keep giving us chances and we kept driving it down on that drive."

The next five plays were hard to decipher from one another. For once, that was a good thing.

Tauren Poole, who was hobbled at practice all week by a sore hamstring, ran for 6 yards, 8 yards, 7 yards, 4 yards and 4 yards to put UT on the Tigers' 5-yard line. Following a LSU pass interference on third down, Poole punched in a touchdown from 2 yards out and gave UT its only dose of momentum for the entire game.

"The greatest feeling for the offensive line is moving the man past his will," James said. "That's what we tried to do on that drive."

Coach Derek Dooley said Poole, who leads the Vols with 395 yards on the season, was "focused" and wasn't going out of his way to make big plays. He also praised freshman Marlin Lane, who had been running timidly in the Vols' previous games but finished Saturday with six carries for 43 yards.

"If we continue that path, we're going to be fine in the run game," Dooley said.

An unexpected contributor to the running game, though, might have been Simms.

Dooley said Simms gave the Vols "some better looks" when he approached the line of scrimmage with a handful of options at his disposal. James said the difference was noticeable, as Simms always seemed to pick the right play at the right time, especially on the Vols' scoring drive.

"We had a game plan that we want to go up there and look to see what they were doing," Bullard said. "He was able to check the plays to what we did.

"He just did his job of what he was coached to do. That's what we have to continue to do."

Afterward, Simms was more focused on his 6-of-20 passing effort, which he described only as "terrible," but he was able to acknowledge at least one positive contribution he provided.

"Overall," he said, "I did an OK job with (run checks) today."

When it pertains to the Vols' running game, "OK" is a step in the right direction.

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Comments » 35

VolFaninDC writes:

Uh Derek, the season is half over and we have, what, 30 something yards rushing average in SEC play? Just when do you mean we're "going to be" fine in the run game?

TNPilgrim writes:

This just shows everyone how far the program has gone down due to poor coaching and bad administration. Dooley inherited a mess, but he also inherited the best facilities, fan support and plenty of money at his disposal. He needs to recruit better than these 2 & 3 star wonders he's brought in so far, and he needs to find a couple of additions to his staff that can help improve the kicking game. Fortunately, he can now work on this without Mike Hamilton in the way. Keep on strokin' Coach D - we're behind you 100%.

TheRealDragonSlayer writes:

in response to VolFaninDC:

Uh Derek, the season is half over and we have, what, 30 something yards rushing average in SEC play? Just when do you mean we're "going to be" fine in the run game?

Your Gators managed to eke out 2 field goals today. Well done.

alfrizzle097 writes:

in response to VolFaninDC:

Uh Derek, the season is half over and we have, what, 30 something yards rushing average in SEC play? Just when do you mean we're "going to be" fine in the run game?

um... probably in the second half of the season. Just guessing that's where he was going... I mean, 100 yards against that strong of a defense isn't horrible, and I saw them getting real push up front against a top notch defensive front.

Alabama may have a better front than LSU, but the point is that the running game was functional today even if the other team was much better.

TheRealDragonSlayer writes:

in response to TNPilgrim:

This just shows everyone how far the program has gone down due to poor coaching and bad administration. Dooley inherited a mess, but he also inherited the best facilities, fan support and plenty of money at his disposal. He needs to recruit better than these 2 & 3 star wonders he's brought in so far, and he needs to find a couple of additions to his staff that can help improve the kicking game. Fortunately, he can now work on this without Mike Hamilton in the way. Keep on strokin' Coach D - we're behind you 100%.

You are not behind him 100%. If you were, you wouldnt be criticizing his recruiting without even knowing what kind of players he is recruiting. We are going to win with his recruits. He has monster defensive players coming in, and is developing the current talent the right way. Dont unnecessarily criticize people and say you are behind them 100%. Talk is cheap.

born2ride writes:

Somebody tell Barbara Dooley her baby boy is on the hot seat. If you can't win at Tennessee you are not going to coach here long.

Go_Big_O writes:

in response to TheBlue:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Maybe, but we will still beat UK in November!

orangeman1 writes:

I'm seriously worried about Vandy after they almost beat Georgia. I just hope we can make it to a bowl now. So how good is this Worley guy?

The_Ghost_of_Duke_DeLuca writes:

Fire Phat Phil Fulmer!

Titan writes:

in response to TNPilgrim:

This just shows everyone how far the program has gone down due to poor coaching and bad administration. Dooley inherited a mess, but he also inherited the best facilities, fan support and plenty of money at his disposal. He needs to recruit better than these 2 & 3 star wonders he's brought in so far, and he needs to find a couple of additions to his staff that can help improve the kicking game. Fortunately, he can now work on this without Mike Hamilton in the way. Keep on strokin' Coach D - we're behind you 100%.

The current verbal commitment list from Rivals shows us with two two stars, seven three stars, and nine four stars. But I'm sure you already knew that.

tn13 writes:

in response to orangeman1:

I'm seriously worried about Vandy after they almost beat Georgia. I just hope we can make it to a bowl now. So how good is this Worley guy?

better than simms

bigorangesob writes:

How about we recruit a true center and move J. Stone to right guard where he was an All American in high school

BigOrange_supporter writes:

in response to Titan:

The current verbal commitment list from Rivals shows us with two two stars, seven three stars, and nine four stars. But I'm sure you already knew that.

Just curious, are you old enough to remember what colleges did before the scout and rivals (star) system?

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to TNPilgrim:

This just shows everyone how far the program has gone down due to poor coaching and bad administration. Dooley inherited a mess, but he also inherited the best facilities, fan support and plenty of money at his disposal. He needs to recruit better than these 2 & 3 star wonders he's brought in so far, and he needs to find a couple of additions to his staff that can help improve the kicking game. Fortunately, he can now work on this without Mike Hamilton in the way. Keep on strokin' Coach D - we're behind you 100%.

Have you checked the recruiting lately? According to rivals UT is 14th which means there are no 2 star athletes. Those so called 2 star players are what most call depth which we had none when he arrived.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to TheBlue:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That's no way to talk about your school.

SummittsCourt writes:

The Vols running game did look better - too bad our passing game now sucks. Hopefully Simms will get better. With Lattimore down we may have a good chance of beating SC if Simms can play better at QB.

BobKesling_is_overpaid writes:

in response to Titan:

The current verbal commitment list from Rivals shows us with two two stars, seven three stars, and nine four stars. But I'm sure you already knew that.

The five stars are all going to Bama, Fla, LSU and Georgia. Sorry kool aid drinkers...not going to get it done with 2 and 3 stars. The guy you are ridiculing has it right. You owe him an apology. Take off your orange tinted glasses and notice this team sucks and is getting worse. At least our games with the Vandy's and Ole Miss's of the world will be competitive.

Fire Cheek and Susan Martin!

mahabrando writes:

in response to TNPilgrim:

This just shows everyone how far the program has gone down due to poor coaching and bad administration. Dooley inherited a mess, but he also inherited the best facilities, fan support and plenty of money at his disposal. He needs to recruit better than these 2 & 3 star wonders he's brought in so far, and he needs to find a couple of additions to his staff that can help improve the kicking game. Fortunately, he can now work on this without Mike Hamilton in the way. Keep on strokin' Coach D - we're behind you 100%.

agreed

EastTNvolfan writes:

in response to TheBlue:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What's wrong? You can't come up with anything original? You have to cut and paste this comment on to every story on GVX?

lomas98 writes:

in response to bigorangesob:

How about we recruit a true center and move J. Stone to right guard where he was an All American in high school

They could let him snap with his dominant hand like last year. Why so stubborn to force the change I don't understand. I agree with you if he can't do what they want, move a right hander in there. It appears to me this staff hasn't concentrated much on run blocking until this week with a sub par qb. I understand the tendency to pass more with bray, but when you want balance they still better push the run blocking. Other teams have had all conference qb's and still have been able to run the ball.

Madkels writes:

For those of you that believe 5 star recruiting is the difference, do some research on Boise State on rivals.com. They do not rank in the top 50 in recruiting and put a winning team on the field that brings fear to top 10 programs. That is why COACHING matters. I would wager that Petersen could make these kids run through a wall. I'll give Dooley two more years because everyone should be given a fair shake. But if Hart is worth his salary, then I would start setting the table to get Petersen if things don't pan out with Dooley. I hope they do, but I would be prepared if they do not.

For those who say "support coach Dooley", I say ok, but UT is bigger than one coach. UT is a storied program and I for one can not settle for mediocrity. Did UK or UNC settle when their BB programs hit the skids?

Ok, so Petersen said he did not want to leave Boise 2 years ago. So what.

givehim6 writes:

One thing I liked about Simms at QB was he was calling plays at the line, think this helped our run game. That is what you get from a a SR QB. Think next year Bray will be able to do this plus beeing a gun slinger, will be fun to watch.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Give Poole credit for coming out determined to move the ball at all costs..The line had good push in the first half.We still find it impossible to run laterally because lsu's corners and LB's are so good and well coached..LSU put on a clinic on how to block and run the ball on the perimeter..LSU ran the ball at will on the outside.They showed our coaches exactly how it's done and I hope Chaney has the smarts to learn from the film.The difference is in the cornerback play..LSU's corners are the best in the SEC and ours are terrible..Ive never been an advocate of Chaney's schemes and play calling but in this game you could clearly see that some of the success rides on Simm's checking off to one of 3 possible plays called from the sideline

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

UT rushed for -20 yards vs georgia and vandy pounded the Dawgs for over 200 yards on the ground last night. With Rogers now at QB (Aaron's brother) Vandy will beat UT this season.

gatorhator4eva writes:

lol, people on here are idiots. dooley is the best thing that happen to Tennessee. as with any new coach and program it takes TIME to get good recruits and coach a team to work to togeather with no mistakes. alot easier said then done. i have no doubt dooley is the man for the job and if u think otherwise u are kidding yourself. next year Tennessee should be much improved with returning talent. lsu and alabama lose alot of players and the sec opens up.

Upgrayedd writes:

in response to BobKesling_is_overpaid:

The five stars are all going to Bama, Fla, LSU and Georgia. Sorry kool aid drinkers...not going to get it done with 2 and 3 stars. The guy you are ridiculing has it right. You owe him an apology. Take off your orange tinted glasses and notice this team sucks and is getting worse. At least our games with the Vandy's and Ole Miss's of the world will be competitive.

Fire Cheek and Susan Martin!

Out of those schools you listed, there are a total of 2 5* commitments. And one of those two is going to Georgia, who is currently listed at #20 in the country with only 2 4* commits. The highest-ranked group so far, Florida's, has 4 3* and a 2*. Your argument is moot.

Upgrayedd writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

UT rushed for -20 yards vs georgia and vandy pounded the Dawgs for over 200 yards on the ground last night. With Rogers now at QB (Aaron's brother) Vandy will beat UT this season.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!

redleg52 writes:

Eventually the running, passing and special teams will come along. Coach Dooley did inherit a mess. Offensive linemen not covered by a d-guy need to fire out and seal off the pursuit on the sweeps.
good old up the gut, between the tackles is the essence of SEC football, but it has to have a mix in order for it to work. If we get so one-dimensional that the linebackers don't have to cover on pass plays, then they can get up on the line and squash the run. We need to be able to do all three....up the gut, sweeps and passes...and mix them well.

abnermc writes:

in response to BobKesling_is_overpaid:

The five stars are all going to Bama, Fla, LSU and Georgia. Sorry kool aid drinkers...not going to get it done with 2 and 3 stars. The guy you are ridiculing has it right. You owe him an apology. Take off your orange tinted glasses and notice this team sucks and is getting worse. At least our games with the Vandy's and Ole Miss's of the world will be competitive.

Fire Cheek and Susan Martin!

With all those 5 stars, Ala was FORTH in the west last year!! Fla. lost 5 games last year w/ all their 5 stars!!!! I have no doubt that Dooley could have finished better than either of their coaches w/ the talent they had & still have . But it is changing as you watch Fla sliding back to mediocrity where they were for 50 years. Bama will cycle too . Stay tuned.

voloffaith writes:

in response to abnermc:

With all those 5 stars, Ala was FORTH in the west last year!! Fla. lost 5 games last year w/ all their 5 stars!!!! I have no doubt that Dooley could have finished better than either of their coaches w/ the talent they had & still have . But it is changing as you watch Fla sliding back to mediocrity where they were for 50 years. Bama will cycle too . Stay tuned.

Alabama will go "FORTH" and be better than FOURTH place no doubt. So FOURTH in the west last year isn't this year is it?

CroKev writes:

As I posted earlier, why not switch Bullard and Stone? Bullard can play all 5 OL positions and Stone can play 4 of them. Unfortunately, they have him playing the one position he shouldn't be playing.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to TNPilgrim:

This just shows everyone how far the program has gone down due to poor coaching and bad administration. Dooley inherited a mess, but he also inherited the best facilities, fan support and plenty of money at his disposal. He needs to recruit better than these 2 & 3 star wonders he's brought in so far, and he needs to find a couple of additions to his staff that can help improve the kicking game. Fortunately, he can now work on this without Mike Hamilton in the way. Keep on strokin' Coach D - we're behind you 100%.

I guess you have misssed all the 4* recruits he has signed plus the ones he has committed to the Vols in 2012..But never mind..it obviously does not matter because you could care less about the 4* because all your focused on is the 2 and 3* recruits..Good Lord,try looking at the positives for a change..I would be more than happy to bring up the Rivals Rankings so you can see all that info for yourself.

Smokey says CDD can recruit in spite of what people like you think..

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to BobKesling_is_overpaid:

The five stars are all going to Bama, Fla, LSU and Georgia. Sorry kool aid drinkers...not going to get it done with 2 and 3 stars. The guy you are ridiculing has it right. You owe him an apology. Take off your orange tinted glasses and notice this team sucks and is getting worse. At least our games with the Vandy's and Ole Miss's of the world will be competitive.

Fire Cheek and Susan Martin!

Look on Rivals website at all the 4* that Dooley has signed plus the ones he has committed for 2012..Honestly, I think you guys conveniently ignore the fact that Dooley can recruit, but don't believe me...Go to Rivals and don't forget to look at the # of 4*.

Oh yeah..And having a team full of 5* doesn't always equal wins..just ask uf..

Smokey says explaining this recruitng to some of you people is getting old...

GONAVY writes:

"we just basically decided as an offense we were going to run it down their throats". 38-7, LSU. Sorry, but that one jumped up and hit me as a bit odd. No offense to UT's lineman, but probably not the thing to say after such a lopsided game. It was, however, a marked running improvement over the past weeks. I honestly think Alabama's defense is better than LSU's...

GONAVY writes:

in response to ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog:

Look on Rivals website at all the 4* that Dooley has signed plus the ones he has committed for 2012..Honestly, I think you guys conveniently ignore the fact that Dooley can recruit, but don't believe me...Go to Rivals and don't forget to look at the # of 4*.

Oh yeah..And having a team full of 5* doesn't always equal wins..just ask uf..

Smokey says explaining this recruitng to some of you people is getting old...

The number of stars do not equate to success on the field. That's been proven time and again. These .com rating services are for the fans and media to chirp about. It boils down to who coaches his kids best, and how the kids respond, period.

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