Once again, Arian Foster proved that he may have been the best third-string running back in the SEC. The freshman ran for 132 yards against an unorthodox defensive formation set up by the Tigers. Foster has brought a consistent rushing threat to the offense, putting together a string of three consecutive 100-yard games. Tennessee’s offensive line had a strong push and opened up holes throughout the afternoon.
The rotation turns again, this time toward Rick Clausen. Just when it looked like the Vols were making a move toward the future by sticking with Ainge, the sophomore slumped throwing two interceptions (although one was called back) in his first four attempts. Clausen led the Vols on the comeback and threw an impressive touchdown to Josh Briscoe.
No, Memphis didn’t have DeAngelo Williams, but that doesn’t mean the Vols defense didn’t have a lot to deal with. UM quarterback Maurice Avery scampered around blitzing Tennessee linebackers, and tailback Joseph Doss pounded UT in the trenches. The Tigers ended up with 165 yards rushing, the most an opponent has gained on the Vols since the Georgia game on Oct. 8.
The Vols sent plenty of blitzes at Avery, but he was only sacked twice. If his receivers wouldn’t have dropped several passes, the former wide receiver would have ended up with a lot more than the 128 yards he had. But the Vols’ secondary performed well for the most part, not allowing Memphis to haul in any of their several deep pass attempts.
The much-maligned unit put together a good game against Memphis in both the return game and in the kicking game. Britton Colquitt continued his recent string of strong performances, punting for a 41.5-yard average while pinning the Tigers inside the 20 three times. James Wilhoit connected on both of his field goals as well. Jonathan Hefney added on the turnaround effort with a 36-yard punt return.
The quarterback situation still won’t go away, and it should have been resolved months ago. The UT defense was caught off-guard by Memphis’ offensive plan that revolved around shovel passes and options. The Vols’ talent simply overwhelmed the Tigers down the stretch, and UT still only won by four. The Vols stuck to the running game and finally had over 300 yards, but an impressive win it was not.
UT v. Memphis report card
Published: Tue Nov 15, 2005