Alabama defense could shake Vols’ confidence
Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 7:03 pm
By BETH RUCKER
AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tauren Poole and the Tennessee offensive line were determined to prevent another Southeastern Conference team from getting the better of the Volunteers’ running game. Poole lowered his shoulders with the determination to “just run” against an LSU defense that’s ranked among the top in the nation.
The payoff was the best individual running performance against the No. 1 Tigers all season.
“I didn’t do anything spectacular. All I did was just run, and that’s what the O-line told me to do,” Poole said. “I feel confident, but I feel more confident in the offensive line and fullbacks than anything. Those guys played really, really hard and my progression was there, my production was there, and that’s why I give it all to them.”
The senior from Toccoa, Ga., knows it’s going to take even more hard work and focus on Saturday, when the Vols travel to No. 2 Alabama, the top rushing defense in the nation. The stingy Crimson Tide defense is giving up a mere 38.1 yards on the ground per game.
The Vols had lost a combined 29 yards rushing against Florida and Georgia but picked up 111 yards against the Tigers, who entered the game allowing an average 69.2 yards per game on the ground. Poole accounted for 70 yards, the most by any single rusher against LSU this season.
“The result wasn’t what we wanted, but we made progress,” Poole said. “We’re going to have to continue to run the football, especially this week.”
Poole knows a thing or two about having success against a determined Alabama defense after rushing for 117 yards against it last season. He’s the only player to have 100 yards or more rushing against the Crimson Tide in 53 games and only one of four players to do so in Alabama coach Nick Saban’s five seasons.
“He’s a great running back,” Alabama noseguard Josh Chapman said. “They have a lot of great runners over there, a great offensive line. They’re a great team. The running backs are one of their strengths.”
Aside from more physical play by the offensive line and fullbacks, Poole credits the smart guidance of quarterback Matt Simms for improvement in the running game.
Simms made his first start in almost a year against LSU, playing in place of Tyler Bray, who broke the thumb on his throwing hand against the Bulldogs on Oct. 8. Published in The Messenger 10.19.11