published Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Vols' offense shows improvement in scrimmage

KNOXVILLE - Derek Dooley stepped on the field at Neyland Stadium on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon hoping his offense would have a better showing in the second scrimmage of spring practice than it did in last week's first showing.

Tennessee's coach left that same field satisfied with what he saw.

"You have a mindset of what you want to see, and it’s hard for everybody to look good," he said. "I had a mindset: we’ve got to start showing some things on offense with consistency and we did that today. It doesn’t mean we’re any good – it just means today, we improved. We’ll see if we can build on it."

The Volunteers' passing game, which Dooley described as "terrible" in last week's first spring scrimmage, responded, as quarterback Tyler Bray completed 17-of-30 passes for 258 yards with four touchdowns and one interception according to the stats provided by UT's media relations department.

Former Calhoun High School star Da'Rick Rogers caught six passes for 120 yards and a score, Justin Hunter added 77 yards and a touchdown on five catches and tight end Mychal Rivera caught two scoring passes.

Tauren Poole, who ran for just 21 yards a week ago, carried 13 times for 70 yards (five per carry).

"The reason I was emphasizing the offense so much is because we’re so young there, and what I wanted to see was a jump in maturity," Dooley said. "These guys hadn’t been counted on day in and day out at the skill position like we needed them to, and we got better at that."

The dilemma with a good offensive day is the disappointment with UT's defense, though reserve safeties Rod Wilks and Dontavis Sapps each returned Matt Simms interceptions for scores.

Linebacker Austin Johnson had six tackles before leaving the scrimmage with a knee injury, safety Brent Brewer had five tackles and forced a fumble and Daniel Hood had five tackles in his second scrimmage since moving from offensive tackle to defensive tackle before the spring.

"I’m worried about the defense," Dooely said. "There’s some young guys on defense, but a lot of those guys played last year – our whole secondary’s back. We need improvement, but I’m not feeling good about the defense."

Linebacker Greg King also left the scrimmage as a precaution, Dooley said, with neck soreness and a possible concussion.

Dooley was also satisfied with his kickers, as Michael Palardy made both of his field-goal attempts and redshirt freshman punter Matt Darr averaged 42 yards on five kicks.

More coverage online and in Sunday's Times Free Press.

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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