Tennessee was one of the worst running teams in the country last season, so the running game was a huge priority this spring in Knoxville.
That was never more apparent than Saturday in the Vols' annual Orange and White spring game when the top four rushers for Tennessee combined for 236 yards in the Orange's 17-14 win over the White before an announced crowd of 35,421 in Neyland Stadium.
Sophomore Marlin Lane led the way with 106 yards and had touchdown runs of 39 and 19 yards.
"I think Marlin's experience back there probably showed up [Saturday]," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. "It was good to see. You'd rather have him do that [play well] than not do it, but I try to judge the body of work over 15 practices. This game is important because it's a true game setting, and that's why I say his experience at running back probably gave him a little edge."
Junior quarterback Tyler Bray also played much better than he did a year ago in a woeful spring game showing. He was 14-of-26 for 157 yards and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mychal Rivera. Bray's added maturity this spring is what earned him the most points with his coaches.
The flip side to running the ball better was that the Vols, transitioning from a 4-3 to 3-4 scheme on defense, didn't stop the run. Dooley was also displeased with some of the errors, including a turnover in the red zone and a fumbled snap on third-and-2. The biggest cause for concern, though, was the kicking game, which again struggled mightily.
On defense, sophomore safety Brian Randolph capped a big spring with another impressive outing.
All in all, it's the best Dooley has felt coming out of spring practice since taking the job prior to the 2010 season.
"I've made this statement: It's the most settled we've been since I've been here, and that showed," Dooley said.
For more on the Vols' spring game, including stats, interviews and a photo gallery, fans can go here.