KNOXVILLE, Tenn. | Tennessee's first-team defense is playing like a championship squad during spring practice, coach Lane Kiffin said after Friday's scrimmage.
Now to get the rest of the team up to speed.
The defensive starters sacked quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who was playing for the first-team offense, seven times. He fumbled on one sack and was downed by Chris Walker in the end zone for a safety on another.
"That (No.) 1 defense is a special unit," Kiffin said. "You feel their confidence. That's what you need your team to be. When you eventually get your whole team that way you become a championship team.
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"We've got to do a lot better job on the other side," he said.
Starting on the offensive line were tackles Cody Pope, Chris Scott and Jarrod Shaw and guards Jacques McClendon and Vladimir Richard.
Despite the line's difficulty in protecting the quarterback, Kiffin praised Crompton and second-string quarterback B.J. Coleman for their performances. After a slow start, both engineered long drives, moved around in the pocket and made plays on their feet.
Crompton, a redshirt senior, finished 8-for-11 for 91 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, and Coleman, a sophomore, finished 11-for-16 with 151 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
"Our first-team defense is outstanding. That's why they're at Tennessee," Crompton said. "They proved last year that they were good enough. Especially with the defensive staff that we've got in this year, that's what we expect. But we also expect a whole heck of a lot out of our offense, too. That's part of it, so we're going to come out here and compete every day."
Nick Stephens, playing in his first scrimmage after sitting out much of the spring recovering from a broken wrist, completed two passes for the third string for 28 yards and a touchdown.
"I'm starting to understand their personalities, starting to understand how they are in the huddle," Kiffin said. "It's really good for me to get a chance to be out here all the time in the huddle, so I get a good handle on them."
Tauren Poole, playing for the second team, led the ground game with 80 yards rushing on 11 carries and scored on a 1-yard run. Montario Hardesty started and carried the ball eight times for 38 yards.
Ben Bartholomew had four catches for 53 yards and caught a 14-yard scoring strike from Coleman. Ahmad Paige caught a 23-yard TD pass from Stephens. Starter Quintin Hancock caught Hancock three passes for 51 yards.
Daniel Lincoln connected on a 32-yard field goal.