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March 29, 2014

Scrimmage HiTs: Sloppy play late hampers offense

Despite what evolved into a steady rain, Tennessee worked extensively inside Neyland Stadium in its second major intrasquad scrimmage of spring camp, and the offense --- at least in ones-vs-ones --- tended to have the upper hand.

It was that way early, when the offense scored, and it was that way late when Riley Ferguson engineered an eight-play, 65-yard scoring march.

Butch Jones then shifted into an overtime setting, and Justin Worley opened it with just a perfect throw to Josh Malone, who streaked toward the goal post and hauled in the 25-yard touchdown. Worley very early in the scrimmage connected with Jason Croom down the right sideline for another 25-yard score on which Croom dragged Emmanuel Moseley the final 10 yards into the end zone.

Malik Foreman picked off Ferguson on the third overtime series when Ferguson, with the offense told the situation dictated they were down three points in this overtime setting, tried to take a shot downfield and threw into double- or triple-coverage.

The fourth overtime series saw Josh Dobbs, who had some earlier struggles, pinpoint a pass to Jason Croom down the left sideline for the "game-winning" touchdown.

Injured and not participating, in addition to the usual group out for spring, were: Jason Carr (wrist); Jaylen Miller (shoulder in a sling); Malik Brown.

With the offense down eight points in a later overtime setting, Devrin Young, who had a nice catch-and-score from 20 yards early, picked up 5 yards but then the offense sputtered to a halt.

Jalen Hurd continued to run in a productive manner, breaking a long 20-plus yard scoring run midway through the scrimmage in addition to bowling in from short-yardage to cap the eight-play, 65-yard march. And Hurd did it all while wearing what appeared to be a slightly cumbersome elbow brace on his left arm.

Nathan Peterman directed an overtime scoring drive down by eight with a toss to Jacob Carter, and Peterman connected with Woody Quinn to tie the score.

"College football's a situational game, son, and that's why we keep our helmets on," Jones barked after a few defensive players ran onto the field still fastening their chin straps.

Dobbs fumbled and turned over the ball late in the scrimmage, the second-straight scrimmage he fumbled either deep in his own territory or inside the red zone.

There were a few defensive bright spots, as Corey Vereen again got untracked and proved difficult for either of the Vols' tackles to block at times. Dimarya Mixon also showed some burst up the middle and notched a sack. The defense showed a good ability to stay at home on reverses, consistently snuffing Von Pearson in the backfield. Pearson caught a late touchdown pass over D'Andre Payne from Peterman.

Pushed back against their own goal line, both Worley and Ferguson generated strong offensive series that accomplished Jones' stated goal of reaching at least the 20-yard line. Ferguson utilized Marlin Lane's strong running to clear dangerous ground while Worley fired two perfect passes, the first just barely incomplete to Josh Smith and the second a leaping snare by Cody Blanc.

Worley joined the turnover crowd with a late interception to Max Arnold, who returned it the distance.

George Bullock had a fine day, with field goals of 29, 34 and 46 yards.

Dillon Bates was in the house, one of several players in Neyland, and he said he'd gained about 12 pounds and would be arriving in Knoxville in late-May.


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