(Associated Press) – Tennessee coach Derek Dooley wanted Saturday’s Orange and White game to be competitive, with the majority of the first-team offense and defense on separate teams.
That’s exactly what he got.
The White team’s final drive stalled after quarterback Tyler Bray’s (Citizen Band Potawatomi) pass sailed out of bounds, giving the Orange team a 17-14 victory in front of a crowd of 31,241, the fourth-largest crowd ever for an Orange and White game.
“I thought our players played with a lot of toughness, good energy and good effort,” Dooley said. “They were into the game and it showed.”
Bray played the entire game and finished 14-of-26 for 157 yards and a touchdown. Rogers had five receptions for a game-high 74 yards.
Running back Marlin Lane was the star of the afternoon, carrying nine times for 106 yards and two touchdowns, including a 39-yard run on the final play of the first half to give the Orange team a 14-7 lead.
“I just wanted to come out this morning, execute every play, play hard for my team and my side and dominate in the run game,” Lane said. “I focused on running physical and not worrying about looking for holes.”
Improving the running game was one of Tennessee’s main emphasizes this spring. The Vols averaged 90.1 rushing yards per game last season, ranking 116th out of 120 FBS teams.
On Saturday, the teams combined to rush for 251 yards on 45 carries.
“We feel like we made the progress we needed to make,” Dooley said. “That doesn’t mean we are a great running team but it is something to build on. We got a lot of cutups we can watch from the spring and try to polish it up. Hopefully the players are seeing what it takes to be a good running football team.”
The defense, which is based out of a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri, struggled to stop the run on both sides.
“Nobody has really put their hand in the dirt on defense and on the defensive line and said we are going to line up and whip your tail,” Dooley said. “We have a lot of work to do to stop the run on defense. We played base defense and we gave up a lot of yards running the ball. We are going to have a hard time stopping anybody just lining up in a 7-man box.”
Each team scored on its opening drive. Lane capped a 6-play, 56-yard drive for the Orange team with a 19-yard score. Highlighted by a 51-yard pass from Bray to Rogers, the White team’s 5-play, 75-yard drive finished with a 2-yard scoring run from running back Rajion Neal.
Neal finished with 10 carries for 49 yards, while Devrin Young had 42 yards on eight carries.
Bray led the White team on an 11-play, 70-yard drive to start the second half. Bray’s 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mychal Rivera tied the game at 14 midway through the third quarter.
Despite not having wide receiver Justin Hunter, who sat out the game while recovering from a torn left ACL he suffered last September, Bray performed much better than he did in last year’s spring game, when he completed just five of 30 passes.
“I couldn’t have done worse,” Bray said. “I think I had more completions on the first drive than I did all last spring. I did better, our offensive line did better and our receivers caught the ball.”
A Derrick Brodus 37-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference.
Quarterback Justin Worley was 17-of-26 for 143 yards and an interception for the Orange team.
The game was Tennessee’s 15th and final practice of the spring.