Orange takes White in Tennessee spring game
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
KNOXVILLE — Competition, toughness, energy. Tennessee coach Derek Dooley saw all those intangible qualities of a football team show up Saturday as the Vols wrapped up spring practice with the annual Orange and White game.
Fumbles, missed field goals, penalties, all those mistakes that plagued the 2011 version of the Vols showed up, too.
“I was real pleased with the competitive match-up, the competitive part of the game,” Dooley said. “I thought the players played with a lot of toughness, good energy, good effort. They were into the game and it showed.
“I think probably the biggest story line, from a negative stand point, is even though you’re playing with all those good intangible qualities, making a lot of critical mistakes in critical situations is something where we obviously need to get better before next fall.”
Tyler Bray completed 14 of 26 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown to the lead the White team and Marlin Lane scored twice for the Orange, rushing for 106 yards on nine carries as the Orange team won, 17-14, in front of 35,421 fans at Neyland Stadium.
“Overall, real pleased with the spring, real pleased with the attitudes that the players have had and the work ethic,” Dooley said. “Now we turn the page and get ready for real ball.”
Rajion Neal led the White team with 49 yards and a touchdown. Former Bearden High School standout Devrin Young had 42 yards. Da’Rick Rogers caught five passes for 74 yards, including a 51-yarder down the side line to set up the White team’s first score.
Tom Smith ran 10 times for the Orange team for 49 yards behind Lane’s 106-yard performance. Orange quarterback Justin Worley completed 17 of 26 passes for 143 yards.
The teams traded quick touchdowns to start the game before the mistakes began to mar the first half.
Lane took a toss sweep 19 yards for a score with just under eight minutes left in the first quarter to give the Orange team a 7-0 lead. Bray and the White squad answered a little more than two minutes later when Neal punched in a score from two yards out to tie the game.
There was a lot to forget after that. The next five possessions ended with an Orange punt, a White punt, an Orange fumble, a White fumble and an Orange missed field goal. Both teams fumbled twice, losing one each.
“You look at the White team, I think they had a turnover in the red zone, they had a missed field goal, a third-and-two, a fumbled snap, a hold and slip on the last drive,” Dooley said. “So those five plays right there were the difference in the game and that is a great learning experience that you have to be able to perform in the critical situations of the game to win the game.”
The Orange team was trying to get in field goal range late in the first half when Lane had a change of plans. A run up the middle to set up a field goal turned into a 39-yard touchdown run for the sophomore running back as the first half clock expired.
“Coach told me five yards and field goal and I decided to try to get more than five and just keep breaking tackles and get down the field,” Lane said.
“It was designed to get into field goal range,” Dooley said. “They were I think on about the 42 and you knew they (the defense) was going to be playing soft so if you get up to the 35, maybe you have a shot at a field goal. That was bad defense more than anything.”
The White team used up most of the third quarter clock on it’s most productive drive of the game, going 70 yards on 11 plays, capped by a Bray one-yard touchdown pass to Mychal Rivera to tie the game at 14-14.
The Orange team responded, driving to the White 20 before settling for the go-ahead 37-yard field goal from former Alcoa soccer standout Derrick Brodus.
It was the only good kick on the day for either team. Michael Palardy missed a 32-yarder in the first half and Brodus later missed a 27-yard try in the fourth quarter. Matt Dar had one punt for 37 yards and Palardy averaged 35 yards on two punts.
“Mike had a good spring, but he didn’t kick as well as he did for (the past) 14 days, and I told him that,” Dooley said. “So he reverted back a little bit and that was disappointing. But he has all summer to correct it.”