Marlin Lane not pretty, just successful running the ball

Tennessee tailback Marlin Lane dives into the end zone during the second quarter against Montana to take the score to 20-0 over Montana at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011.

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

Tennessee tailback Marlin Lane dives into the end zone during the second quarter against Montana to take the score to 20-0 over Montana at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011.

Jim Chaney: What the Vols need to improve before Cincinnati

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The outcome was positive.

The way it was produced wasn't exactly ideal.

In one short yard, Marlin Lane gave the Tennessee coaching staff pretty much everything it could have wanted last week — a touchdown to help put away Montana in a 42-16 victory and a teaching point.

The Vols obviously weren't complaining about the way the play ended with the freshman capping off his debut by sneaking the ball into the end zone for his second score of the game. But it would clearly prefer he make it a little easier by getting his pads down and driving his way to the goal line, an issue Lane can try to correct at Neyland Stadium against Cincinnati on Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.).

"That was a little odd," offensive graduate assistant Chino Fontenette said after practice Wednesday. "I mean, in practice every time he's in goal-line situations, he's been the one that's had the best pad level.

"I'm not sure what was going through his head at the time, but he's actually been very good with that. He's the one that's been diving to the goal-line, getting low to the legs, so that was a little bit odd there in that situation in the game. He typically does a good job of getting his pads down."

Either way, Lane was able to get enough push to pick up a yard and find the end zone for the Vols (1-0). And while the second trip there might not have been as impressive as the catch, juke and dive from 9 yards that produced his first career touchdown, he certainly showed an early knack for putting points on the board.

Along with that, his 10 carries for 35 yards, two catches for 16 and four punt returns also indicate there might be plenty more touches for him coming as UT's second option behind starting tailback Tauren Poole against the Bearcats (1-0).

"He showed a lot of ability, and I think we all saw that," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "Now it's a matter of reps and confidence. He got his first game under his feet and hopefully we'll see him elevate a little bit more this week.

"He made some nice runs but still doesn't have the full commitment that we need, just like a lot of the freshmen."

The Vols have another one on hand who could provide some help to a running game that collectively struggled in the season-opening win, with Tom Smith also looking like a viable option to provide some depth in the backfield.

Sophomore Rajion Neal also is going to be a factor on the ground as he gets back to full strength after knee problems sidelined him during training camp, and UT has vowed to get him more involved moving forward as well.

But Lane played one of the more prominent roles on offense against Montana, and he didn't do much that would force the Vols to reevaluate his place in the pecking order. Obviously punching in a pair of touchdowns is a fine way to start, even if Lane could have made one look a little prettier.

"Hey, he scored, so you can't complain about that," Fontenette said. "He does his dive (for one), then he gets in the end zone for that touchdown — that was a really good opportunity for him.

"I was definitely happy for him, glad we got that anxiety out of scoring touchdowns. Hopefully it will take him out of that situation where he might have had to press to the next week to find that first touchdown and that whole deal. He's got that out of the way, now it's just time for him to open up and run."

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 35

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say think Montario Hardesty with good knees and stronger upper body.
Bones never lie.

jobrando#216494 writes:

I call him the snake. Give him some decent blocking and you will never see him until he's in the house. Poole must have much better line dominance to get anywhere. The fact is the running game vanished with the last decent group on the line. I love James Stone and think this group is close to busting the backs loose.

agentorange writes:

he's fast, for sure, and ran hard.

Bigger_Al writes:

OKEMO and Witchie need to go bowling.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Bigger_Al:

OKEMO and Witchie need to go bowling.

Witch Doctor tell Al to leave Witch Doctor outta his fantasies. Witch Doctor say Al can always "ignore" instead of "whine."
Bones never lie.

ctownvol writes:

Is Toney Williams alive and well? I really thought he would've made some sort of splash by now. I guess my first wife was right...I am wrong from time to time.

Ironcity writes:

in response to ctownvol:

Is Toney Williams alive and well? I really thought he would've made some sort of splash by now. I guess my first wife was right...I am wrong from time to time.

Toney is long gone somewhere in the MAC

xvolx writes:

Running backs are only as good as their blocking. What good runs Tenn. had came off the right side. Bullard consistently got whipped. Don't think he has the size at 309 to play guard. Better suited at center. Let's give Schofield at 333 or Jackson at 329 a chance at left guard. We wern't moving people. They were moving us.

VOLliven2it writes:

Running game will improve. I am over my little patter about not moving Montana with our o-line. I hope that will be better against Cincinnati and our backs make some better cuts especially if the outside opens up. Both TP and ML have the speed to get the corner and make some big gains. Hoping to see that along with more aerial pursuit by our receivers and Bray's arm.

dvols writes:

the Lane train will be just fine.....be patient.....

he will play on Sundays one day..no brainer

feature back by the end of season

voloffaith writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

WE don't HATE! This other speak is silly and just grinds on majority. It's copycatish and ewe know it is and I thought for a while you were maturing as a poster and eliminating it. Change your post name to Okemosabe from tnmntravel so it doesn't look so weird. Homage? Don't think so! Won't bow down in homage to no earthly man/woman.

On topic, running game under microscope this weekend for sure locally and nationally.

jsmithnga#207674 writes:

in response to ctownvol:

Is Toney Williams alive and well? I really thought he would've made some sort of splash by now. I guess my first wife was right...I am wrong from time to time.

Ball State I believe; sorry it did not work out for him; watched him play hs ball and he was a hoss.

AllforTenn writes:

in response to voloffaith:

WE don't HATE! This other speak is silly and just grinds on majority. It's copycatish and ewe know it is and I thought for a while you were maturing as a poster and eliminating it. Change your post name to Okemosabe from tnmntravel so it doesn't look so weird. Homage? Don't think so! Won't bow down in homage to no earthly man/woman.

On topic, running game under microscope this weekend for sure locally and nationally.

And you should stop using "ewe" for you. Something about female sheep fascinate you?

tnsportsman writes:

Marlin Lane is a freshman and had a good first game as a VOL in the SEC under the lights of Neyland! ML will only get better and our OL will get the PUSH they need this week. Tyler was well protected, the OL just needs that PUSH on the first contact and maintain their blocks! The loose balls were first game lack of focus, along with a 1 1/2 hour Storm Delay!

IMO, OUR VOLS will be much better on offense against Cincy!

FOCUS and CONTROL THE BALL!

GO VOLS, VFL!

utfaninga writes:

Lets nor forget Rajion Neal just practiced full speed for 2 days last week. He will be a Force to be reckoned with, speed kills!

Digital5000 writes:

Lane is like the little baby Ladainian Thompson and Adrian Peterson had together.

This guy is going to be a 6 time NFL rushing leader and 5 times super bowl winner/MVP.

His moves are so saucy I had to open a bag of Tostitos (hint of lime).

-Enjoy Yoself

SneakyPete writes:

I was in the parking lot when that TD was scored, so I can't comment on it. I did see him hit the hole fast and hard his first few runs. Later he seemed to dance a little and not get up the field. With that said, I can understand why this correction is needed....Martin Lane certainly gives us hope for a effective running game if he get his mechanics straighten out.

voloffaith writes:

in response to AllforTenn:

And you should stop using "ewe" for you. Something about female sheep fascinate you?

Thank YOU for playing. That is there to see ,in most cases,if people are actually paying attention. No my fascination with sheep has to do with being one of HIS and not a goat.

ravensearay writes:

in response to SneakyPete:

I was in the parking lot when that TD was scored, so I can't comment on it. I did see him hit the hole fast and hard his first few runs. Later he seemed to dance a little and not get up the field. With that said, I can understand why this correction is needed....Martin Lane certainly gives us hope for a effective running game if he get his mechanics straighten out.

MARLIN LANE not MARTIN.

VolGrad writes:

Both backs displayed tunnel vision at times in that game, failing to make the cut back and simply running into the pile.

They will improve as will the OL.

writer#358485 writes:

Agree with VolGrad, I think the running game will be fine. I also think we'll see continued improvement everywhere as we go along through the season. Dooley knows what he is doing and the team got stronger each game last year. We were over-matched in some of those games last year, but there will be fewer of those this year. We're still young and likely won't win the conference, or possibly even the East, though that might be achievable with a lot of luck. The team still is very young, but it's going to be a great year to be a Vol and the two/three-year future looks very bright! Go Vols!

snakeplissken writes:

It all begins with the offensive line. The mark of a great running back is what they do AFTER they get through the hole. Don't forget that Poole went over 1K yards last year behind an even younger, more experienced line. Until our offensive line starts blocking better, I'll take experience back there.

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Thank YOU for playing. That is there to see ,in most cases,if people are actually paying attention. No my fascination with sheep has to do with being one of HIS and not a goat.

Preach it brother! Amen on being one of HIS.

Go Vols

UTByrd writes:

Montana's D line was all seniors. Plus, they crowded the "box" with 7 to 8 players on virtually every play. They dared us to beat them with the passing game.
Go VOLS!!!!!

SneakyPete writes:

in response to ravensearay:

MARLIN LANE not MARTIN.

Thanks for the correction. Hopefully my mechanics get straightened out before it gets too deep into the season along with Pool and Layne. Oops!!! x2 ditto

Vol43 writes:

in response to voloffaith:

WE don't HATE! This other speak is silly and just grinds on majority. It's copycatish and ewe know it is and I thought for a while you were maturing as a poster and eliminating it. Change your post name to Okemosabe from tnmntravel so it doesn't look so weird. Homage? Don't think so! Won't bow down in homage to no earthly man/woman.

On topic, running game under microscope this weekend for sure locally and nationally.

I'm ok with it. It's idiots like Brett who annoy me.

OrangePride writes:

Spotty beginning for the Poole/Lane tandem. But it's a first game and the OL is still not on all cylinders. I look for significant improvement Saturday. And as Lane gains experience and confidence....LOOK OUT! This kid is fast and has good instincts. GO VOLS!

tturley#297658 writes:

Lane gets to the LOS fast, and keeps his head up looking for a "lane". So far so good, will only get better!

hikerdude writes:

I don't understand the optimism about the O-line. They weren't very good last year. We've seen them twice since last year, the Orange-White game and the Montana game, and they didn't look very good in either of those. So what is the evidence that they're going to play well in the future? Looks like 6-6 to me.

Theo writes:

in response to hikerdude:

I don't understand the optimism about the O-line. They weren't very good last year. We've seen them twice since last year, the Orange-White game and the Montana game, and they didn't look very good in either of those. So what is the evidence that they're going to play well in the future? Looks like 6-6 to me.

I'm going to wager a guess here that the optimism is based on the fact that the line is really big and really young. No guarantees that they will reach great heights but they certainly have potential as they find their way. I'm like you, however, I keep expecting them to finally gel and really dominate. Don't know how long it takes for an OL to develop. It doesn't help that they don't have upperclassmen to learn from here. Good test of coaching. We'll see.

hueypilot writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Whoda thought it that Adams would talk some Tennessee smack? You go John.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I just don't understand why, in your tnmantravel persona, you have nothing good to say about the Vols, while your "OKEMO" posts are usually positive toward them. Are you schizo? Do you take all your meds every day? When were they last adjusted?

voloffaith writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I just don't understand why, in your tnmantravel persona, you have nothing good to say about the Vols, while your "OKEMO" posts are usually positive toward them. Are you schizo? Do you take all your meds every day? When were they last adjusted?

Remember Sally Fields movie as multipersonality lady?............

1974Vol writes:

O lined blocked better than RB's ran. Great backs don't need 7 pancakes to get yardage. Think Travis Henry in 2001 Florida game. O line blocking was just OK - Henry just ran over around and through a bunch of gators. You get a great back to the hole with no D-line penetrating the line of scrimmage and he'll get you 3-4 yards - get a 1 yard push and it turns into 7. Get a pancake at the point of attack and its off to the races. OL got a hat on a hat a lot but Montana brought their safeties down in the box and gave Vols a numbers mismatch - but great backs make safeties miss - at least sometimes. Lanes juke at the South end for his first TD was the only time we had a RB make anyone miss all night.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to 1974Vol:

O lined blocked better than RB's ran. Great backs don't need 7 pancakes to get yardage. Think Travis Henry in 2001 Florida game. O line blocking was just OK - Henry just ran over around and through a bunch of gators. You get a great back to the hole with no D-line penetrating the line of scrimmage and he'll get you 3-4 yards - get a 1 yard push and it turns into 7. Get a pancake at the point of attack and its off to the races. OL got a hat on a hat a lot but Montana brought their safeties down in the box and gave Vols a numbers mismatch - but great backs make safeties miss - at least sometimes. Lanes juke at the South end for his first TD was the only time we had a RB make anyone miss all night.

If you will recall, Poole got a lot of criticism last year for "dancing" behind the line rather than putting his head down and getting what he could get. It may be that the staff told him to just drive on and forget about trying to break one every play. I also think the repetitive runs up the middle were part of the game plan to try to get the line to push harder and possibly even to set up the pass by inducing Montana to crowd the line of scrimmage. I think against Cincy we will see much more variety in the play calling, better timing between the RB's and the O-line, and a generally improved running game.

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