KNOXVILLE - If there's such a thing as upsets in spring football games, Tennessee's Orange and White game on Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium fits the bill.
The White team, the underdog on paper, won 24-7 behind a combined 109 yards rushing by tailbacks Rajion Neal and Toney Williams.
"I told the team it was a great example that it doesn’t matter what kind of game it is, spring game, SEC game, you name it -- the team that can win at the line of scrimmage and run the football and has the best chance of winning," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "Today was evidence of that. It doesn’t matter how many fancy guys you’ve got at the skill positions, you better be a physical football team."
Orange team quarterback Tyler Bray struggled mightily, completing just five of his 30 pass attempts on a chilly, windy afternoon. His only highlight of the day was a 54-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to tight end Mychal Rivera on a busted coverage.
Matt Simms, the Volunteers' senior backup quarterback, hit Neal on a 43-yard wheel route down the sideline for the game's first score in the first quarter and later plunged in from two yards out to put the White team up 17-7 in fourth. Neal's 12-yard run put the finishing touch on the victory.
Though the game was never the prettiest display of football, Dooley won't let any negatives form the day diminish how the Vols progressed over the course of four weeks of spring practice.
"I was real proud of how we ended up spring, I felt like everybody ended up spring improved, our units improved," he said. "We still have a long way to go, but we’re headed in the right direction."
More coverage online and in Sunday's Times Free Press.
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 ...