Marlin Lane building his 'coat of armor'

RB building his 'coat of armor'

Derek Dooley: The physics of football

MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee running back Marlin Lane, left, carries the ball during the first half of the Vols' game against Georgia on Oct. 8 at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2011

MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee running back Marlin Lane, left, carries the ball during the first half of the Vols' game against Georgia on Oct. 8 at Neyland Stadium.

Only the offensive linemen and a handful of others remained on the practice field Tuesday while Tennessee running back Marlin Lane ran back and forth through "The Blaster."

The apparatus simulates a small tunnel that a running back like Lane would be lucky to find Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 7:15 p.m.) at No. 2 Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC).

Jutting out from both sides are plastic bats, which not only simulate 10 or so arms grabbing for the ball, but also put a hefty beating on the player as he runs through it.

As coach Derek Dooley said to the group during positional drills, it helps build a running back's "coat of armor."

Just a freshman and a little more than two years removed from serious knee surgery, Lane still is in the early stages of solidifying that coat. At this point of the season and at this point of a brutal SEC schedule, any extra time with the Blaster can't hurt.

"It's hard. Get hit a lot," Dooley said. "Most guys when they come out of high school, they expect to feel great all the time. It doesn't happen like that."

Lane, perhaps, has been the exception to a term that gets thrown around a lot at UT: the "freshman wall."

It's around this point of the season where freshmen such as Lane who have seen significant playing time from Day 1 start to wear down from the mental and physical anguish of SEC football.

"At first you're like, 'Wow, I'm out here playing with all these grown men,' " said right tackle Ja'Wuan James, who started all 13 games as a true freshman last season. "Then right about this time you hit that wall like you're starting to feel a little tired and stuff might not be going your way.

"I see Marlin, he just keeps working and he finds a way to make a play."

In the last two games, Lane has been at his best.

Against Georgia, with the running game stuck in neutral, he led the Vols (3-3, 0-3) with six receptions for 84 yards. In last week's loss to LSU, Lane tied his season-long with an 18-yard run in the first quarter and finished with 43

on just six carries.

"I'm just getting confident in myself," Lane said in his first interview since joining the Vols. "I'm learning the plays and trying to execute. It's so fast and just books and books, learning and learning."

The learning curve for Lane has been painfully obvious at times, especially when he's coming out of the backfield and things aren't unfolding according to the script.

Before his effort Saturday, Lane had 96 yards on 37 carries — an average of 2.59 yards per carry. The numbers look even worse when the first carry of his career, an 18-yarder against Montana, is dropped from the total.

On top of an offensive line that wasn't opening enough holes, Lane was running a step too slow, thinking instead of actually running. The combination resulted in too many runs not even reaching the line of scrimmage.

"We've been on him for several weeks about getting the ball and going," Dooley said. "He's not there yet as a runner. There were a couple of times in the game he got the ball and he gets spooked over here and he's stopped and he tries to run outside. You just go.

"He's doing good things and he's showing up every game making plays for us. He's going to be a good player for us."

Lane hasn't shown that hesitancy in the passing game, where he's picked up 12 receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He runs with a smooth pace, but has a shifty demeanor that's made a number of linebackers and defensive backs whiff on tackle attempts.

Dooley called it an "elusive ability," and he's hoping to see it on every play, not just on short passes.

"He's got to learn to run with a little more power. That's what he doesn't have right now. It's a confidence thing," Dooley said. "Some runners run to deliver a blow to the defenders. Some runners run to avoid getting hit. The good runners I've ever been around, they run and when a guy comes to hit them, They're delivering the blow. That's what you got to develop. You've got to train your body that way.

"It's a mind-set. It's a physical presence."

Lane said he struggled sometimes with the proper mind-set during his senior season at Mainland High in Daytona Beach, Fla. He was coming off surgery for a torn ACL, a procedure that was supposed to keep him out for the entire year, and more than a bulky brace was holding him back.

Extensive months of training that involved daily work in a sand pit helped erase the doubts.

"It made me realize the months I was out how much I was missing in football," Lane said. "When I started training I took it day by day and made myself get up and do it."

It's that same kind of motivation that kept Lane on the practice field Tuesday long after the majority of his teammates left.

Just him and the Blaster.

"Contact is not really anything," Lane said. "If I have to bring it, I bring it."

Andrew Gribble 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 » 61

69grad writes:

Sounds like the work ethic we need...from all of them.

mdvol writes:

I like the improvement of Lane but Dooley has got to find a great RB for this recruiting class. Two are committed but don't appear to have freshman impact potential. Not sure who backs up Lane next year at this point.

Never count out the VOLS.

VOLliven2it writes:

Bring it Lane, Bring it Saturday and all the rest of the games we have!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Lane has been one of the bright spots thus far and I have been really impressed by his skills and work ethic..As another poster said, all of the players should have that.

Smokey says a good attitude always helps..

givehim6 writes:

I like Lane, he looks like one day he will be that power back UT needs. A few runs I have seen him run its like him will not go down till he gets the yards he wants.

ROCKYTOPBRAD writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And did you see that guy justin hunter! man he played great.

cloudodust writes:

Wiffle ball bats are good whipping sticks but depth and position competition are two of the tools that really make champions. Go out and earn it, ML.

GoSmokeyGo writes:

I like this kid a lot. He has the frame to add some weight but looks like a keeper. Good work ethic is a good sign.

cloudodust writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm a runner and I don't have a clue what you mean. Put it 13.1 lingo for us HALF-wits.

GoSmokeyGo writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

TennVolAlum...make sure your homework is done..past bed time

born2ride writes:

Lane is quick and runs hard. Get him the ball.

givehim6 writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Explain what you are talking about your the one that sounds drunk. Yes on average he runs like a freshman. But 2 times, once in the UGA game UT was backed up due to penalties it was 3rd down UT needed like 8 yards for a 1st. 2nd time was the LSU game, same thing but UT needed 11 yards. Both times Lane got the ball ran even though guys were on him but did not go down till he got the 1st down. When I said one day he might be a power back I was thinking JR SR year. Now numb n**ts thats what I meant. Now you explain if you even know.

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to mdvol:

I like the improvement of Lane but Dooley has got to find a great RB for this recruiting class. Two are committed but don't appear to have freshman impact potential. Not sure who backs up Lane next year at this point.

Never count out the VOLS.

I know they are not rated as highly as we might like, but they are bigger and may bring us a more physical presence. Both are 220+.

GoSmokeyGo writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ho hum...ho hum...jeeze

GoSmokeyGo writes:

AL is great...no doubt. Sure wished they played LSU NEXT weekend and we could catch em looking ahead to that huge game...oh well.. we will try and give em heck anyway...if Lattimore hadn't gotten hurt, you were looking at facing 2 first round RB back to back...WOW! Hope the young man makes a full recovery...hate to see anyone go down

GoSmokeyGo writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dry as the desert...keep trying slugger

GoSmokeyGo writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

wiffed again! in other news....

OrangeinCarolina2 writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Here's a surprise-We all prefer production and talent and 10+ win seasons. But right now it is what it is. We've got a lot of up front talent just no depth to back it up. I agree with Spongey- you can like whoever you want. Feel free to post any opinion you have. Just do it with a little class. We Vol fans like to read valid opinions whether we agree or not. But at the end of the day We still bleed Orange. Looking forward to the future of UT football. GO VOLS!

OrangeinCarolina2 writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No, stating facts and stats does not make you a p**k nor do I even think you're a p**k. Ain't enough Dixie Crystals to make our football look good but that won't last forever. I'm just saying don't chastise another fan because he likes something that you don't. It's just his opinion. Crack on the trolls not on the Vol fans. GO VOLS!

GoSmokeyGo writes:

Children these days...always gotta have the last word

tnfanincali writes:

wow! Really!? wow!

MidTennVol writes:

"The good runners I've ever been around, they run and when a guy comes to hit them, They're delivering the blow. That's what you got to develop. You've got to train your body that way.

"It's a mind-set. It's a physical presence."

Herschel Walker, Earl Campbell leap to mind. So does Montario Hardesty. If you can't run around them, run through them. Make them pay. Refuse to go down.

Can't really teach that, in my view.

DiegoVol writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't agree with how you post on message boards. Although, Your thoughts on Lane are spot on. I haven't seen a RB even try to attack a hole since Hardesty left. All of our RB's run so timid. We can blame it on the youth all day but the bottom line is that they need to tighten up the chin strap and start running people over.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

At least I have seen some improvement from Marlin Lane. Maybe it is because he is now seeing Devrin Young in the shadows. Not sure. But if he can start rushing every game, like he rushed in the LSU game, then I think he can give Tennessee some depth.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

HAS ANYONE HEARD IF HERMAN LATHERS WILL BE BACK FOR THE BAMA GAME!!!!!!!!????????????????

jobrando#216494 writes:

VOLS - 17
Bama- 14

JacksonvilleVol writes:

Two things.
1. TennVolAlum = Massive Troll.
2. TennVolAlum is right I believe. But it's not just the running game. We have such a young team this year, the players are having a hard time keeping up in the 2nd half with the teams that have more senior experience. Case in point, we kept it closer against Florida, but Georgia and LSU, who have more Senior players than Florida or the Vols, absolutely dominated us in the 3rd quarter and we never recovered. Some of that could be halftime transition coaching, but a large part of it was simply the conditioning level of the younger players. We can shape them up, and of course continue to recruit our brains out, but this year is lost because we don't have "the experience" in our players yet.

And let's face it... the Vols need a program win in order to get out of this rut. Until they have an inspirational game against a team like UGA, Florida or Alabama, the Vols are going to continue to struggle. They have to play their absolute best for the sake of getting this team out of its losing ways.

Unlike massive trolling, I troll ever so softly.

snakeplissken writes:

in response to tennvolsman19651965:

HAS ANYONE HEARD IF HERMAN LATHERS WILL BE BACK FOR THE BAMA GAME!!!!!!!!????????????????

Lathers might be back for the MTSU game but he won't be in football shape when he returns.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

in response to snakeplissken:

Lathers might be back for the MTSU game but he won't be in football shape when he returns.

Bummers. Thanks Snake.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

VOLS - 17
Bama- 14

Although I pray that you are correct, it is a bit early to be tapping the moon shine, isnt it?

CrankE writes:

in response to MidTennVol:

"The good runners I've ever been around, they run and when a guy comes to hit them, They're delivering the blow. That's what you got to develop. You've got to train your body that way.

"It's a mind-set. It's a physical presence."

Herschel Walker, Earl Campbell leap to mind. So does Montario Hardesty. If you can't run around them, run through them. Make them pay. Refuse to go down.

Can't really teach that, in my view.

Yup.

Jamal Lewis, Travis Henry. Bruisers. What a shame that UT couldn't figure out how to get them both onto the field at the same time.

This would be great news in March. It's still good news, but in mid-October it sounds like closing the barn door after the horse is gone.

Volunatic writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And magic wands to make it happen instantly!

Chappy writes:

Jeez, no trolls and we're turning on each other.

Everyone is frustrated, but not every year can be a 10+ year.

Saturday will be ugly, but the true measure of a team is to do their best even in the face of insurmountable odds. Never give up until the clock reads 0:00.

Volunatic writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Exactly, but when you tell another poster not to respond, he/she should obey, because... uhhh... ummmm...

Volunatic writes:

in response to GoSmokeyGo:

Children these days...always gotta have the last word

I was thinking the same thing after about the 10th angry retort from that guy who claims he isn't angry.

Volunatic writes:

in response to mrkirker:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And a sword.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

This was actually a positive story about a really good RB, but it sounds like someone on here is in a bad mood..No need to snap at other posters or call them names(like you did me last year,I won't repeat what it was,but I haven't forgotten)because they share a different opinion..Sheesh!!

Smokey says Lane is just gonna get better..

volsfan74 writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

TennVolAlum - I have to the conclusion that you are truly a douche' bag! I don't think anyone on here was naming Marlin to the Heisman list just stating that he has some solid potential to be a good RB for us, he needs more experience, the line needs more experience and learn to run block better Tyler needs to learn to check off at the line a little bit better all of this adds up to we need more experience. I am one that believes Marlin Lane has shown signs of being a good RB and hopefully he will develop into one. If you are truly an Alum it is Alum like you that I dislike. I support my Alma Mater and choose to support them through the rebuilding instead of bashing them.

GREATVOLSAFIRE writes:

good post 74!

rockytn2jc writes:

Marlin Lane will be a lot more improved next year. He's a player that's come fresh out of high school, but will experience his first college weight room experience this off season. Our O-line will also improve next year. The only thing that questions me is our D-line. We really need our DT's to improve!!!

brokendownoldvol writes:

He's smooth and talented. Like all freshmen he just needs time in the weight room.

cooper65#432178 writes:

Next yeat our OLine will have experience and hopefully conditioning and coaching will make them a first-class group. Maybe Lane or whoever will stepup and we will have a great run game.

CroKev writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"intellEgent"? The irony is dripping, isn't it?

rockytn2jc writes:

I'm pretty sure David Oku and Toney Williams wished they would have stayed......

DavidB writes:

The more carries he gets a game the more yards he will put up. I think we put too much on Brays shoulders early. With a QB that accurate and receivers like hunter many of us did not notice the running game as much. With Bray and Hunter our more focus is on the running game and we need the running game more than ever.

Lane shows a lot of promise.

utfaninga writes:

You gotta be kidding me people. Lane is the 2nd leading rusher and has 43 carries for 139 yds. Neal is the 3rd leading rusher and has 11 carries for 49 yds. Im not knocking Lane at all, hes gonna be a good one but the coaches have to get Rajion the ball more somehow. He may get 3 touches a game if hes Lucky. Use this kid! Hes the FASTEST player on the TEAM!

martinvol34 writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're an idiot!

Volunatic writes:

in response to CroKev:

"intellEgent"? The irony is dripping, isn't it?

He really wanted to say "Your stupid", but then decided to expound on his thought a bit more.

givehim6 writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You need to slow down read the word that are being writen. I explain ever thing in the post but you keep blowing out of proportion. If you need help there people that can be called that can help.

jimr07 writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sounds like someone needs a nap.

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