Marlin Lane highlights strong outing for RBs in spring game

The White squad wasn't asking for much.

Marlin Lane gave it everything it possibly could have wanted.

Facing a lengthy third down just before halftime, Tennessee's second-team offense dialed up a draw play simply to pick up a few yards and hopefully set up a field goal. It's expectations were apparently too low for Lane, who instead bolted through a hole in the defense for a touchdown that helped send his team into the locker room with the lead on its way to a 17-14 win in the Orange and White Game on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

"I really didn't know I was going to score," Lane said. "I was just running.

"They told me to get five yards and (set up) a field goal. I just decided to try to get more than five, just keep breaking tackles and get closer for the kicker."

The Orange team still needed a kicker, but the work was significantly easier, with Derrick Brodus only having to knock through an extra point after Lane dashed 39 yards down the middle of the field before stretching his arms into the end zone for his second touchdown of the afternoon.

The Vols spent all spring emphasizing improvement for its beleaguered rushing attack after struggling so mightily to move the ball a year ago, clearly expecting much more on the ground after finishing among the worst teams in the nation there last season. But at least for one play, UT might have set the bar too low for its running backs, with Lane allowing his instincts to take over as he cruised through a hole up front and flashed a bit of breakaway speed on the way to the goal line.

In all, he finished with 106 yards on just nine carries to pace the attack for the winning side, sending the pre-spring favorite to win the starting job into the offseason with some positive momentum. But Lane certainly wasn't the only one to leave with something to feel good about statistically, and with three other rushers averaging nearly five yards per carry, UT coach Derek Dooley might not be short on options in the backfield.

"I think we have three guys who all have different qualities and can help us move the football," Dooley said. "You saw a little spurt of all of it today. They're all three good backs, I think Marlin's experience probably showed up today, and hopefully those three will continue to develop — and then we've got a young freshman coming in for the fall, too.

"It was good to see. ... I try to judge the body of work over 15 practices, and this game is important because it's a true game setting and that's why I think his experience out there at running back probably gave (Lane) a little edge."

UT tweaked the format of the annual exhibition to get that truer setting, keeping the starters together after a couple years of drafting rosters and winding up with games that didn't produce much quality competition and offered little to evaluate.

Lane ended up on the outside looking in at the first-team unit with Rajion Neal and Devrin Young getting the nod instead, and that combination was productive as well with a combined 91 yards rushing and a touchdown. And while that ultimately wasn't enough for the White to overcome a costly turnover in the first half or some sloppiness in a late two-minute drill with the game on the line, neither side had much to complain about on the ground.

And regardless of what was on the scoreboard, that surely counted as a victory for the Vols.

"We feel like we made the progress we needed to make," Dooley said. "It doesn't mean we're a great running team, but it's something to build on."

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 10

Dalton writes:

First step for this young man...confidence. And then let the natural talent flow..combined with an offensive line making holes...we need this to get back...GO VOLS!!!

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Dalton:

First step for this young man...confidence. And then let the natural talent flow..combined with an offensive line making holes...we need this to get back...GO VOLS!!!

You got it right.The thing that looks best was the line play.I can't say either line look weak. Those Running Backs had a lot of help today and that's a lot better than last year. I also think having a running back coach showed its influence, the cuts were sharp and the runners didn't quit. When this team is all together we'll be pretty good.
9-3 + a bowl and could make a run at the SECE and a 10-2

VolGrad writes:

ML did what he needed to do against our #2 defense. But we need to remember he was also behind the blocking of the #2 offense when he did it.

Great job, Marlin.

Go Vols!

VolinCalif writes:

I really didn't see much difference between those two Off.lines. I think the big difference was in running and that Justin was very good on the shorter passes.With a little more playing experience he will be very good. Bray had better get with it or he could be in trouble. I know he has a cannon of an arm but he is not the best field General.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

It's just spring but we are seeing improvements in many areas.

I think the attitude of our kids is the biggest improvement and that's the most important thing.

If the guys will stay focused and work really hard all Summer we just might surprise some people this season and be happy with the rebuilding plan that CDD has put in place.

VFL...GBO!!!

CCLC writes:

It's a spring game sports fans. Lots of players play big in the spring only to never repeat the performance in regular season. Hopefully no injuries and everyone gets a peak at what they need to work on to get better in the summer.

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

I really didn't see much difference between those two Off.lines. I think the big difference was in running and that Justin was very good on the shorter passes.With a little more playing experience he will be very good. Bray had better get with it or he could be in trouble. I know he has a cannon of an arm but he is not the best field General.

Worely's interception play - he will not see the field very soon with those kind of bone headed plays. He does have talent, but Bray is clearly the better QB at this point.

Bubba_Knows writes:

I think Marlin Lane showed flashes of a really good running back. He also shows promise for the Vols running attack.

Dalton writes:

in response to CCLC:

It's a spring game sports fans. Lots of players play big in the spring only to never repeat the performance in regular season. Hopefully no injuries and everyone gets a peak at what they need to work on to get better in the summer.

I thought about including a qualifier in my post about this being only a spring game and how past star players in those games are shelved during the season never to be seen again. I'm looking at this game with Vol fan glasses and comparing it to past such contests. I'm realistic but still encouraged. There appears to be a new energy on this squad....new coaches?...new outlook from our head coach?...Don't care why. I hope this is the first step towards what all Vol fans want...a program the rest of the nation has to deal with...and I hope we can do it with Dooley at the helm.

VolGrad writes:

Sunseri 1 - Chaney 0.

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