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Opinions on Tennessee scrimmage 3 and overall practice 11

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Here are some of my observations, notes and opinions from Tennessee football spring practice #11 (Saturday, April 5, 2014). The media was allowed to see the entire practice which included scrimmage #3 at Neyland Stadium.

I’ll be posting post-practice blogs and interviews on this page throughout spring practice, so please share and tell your friends and co-workers.

Practice 11
Butch Jones started the practice portion by asking for a “circle of life” competition between Kenny Bynum (LB) and as Jones called him on the mic, “The Fashion Model Alden Hill” (RB).

Punt returners in individual drills:
Emmanuel Moseley (CB)
Josh Malone (WR)
Cameron Sutton (CB)
Devrin Young (RB)
Johnathon Johnson (WR)
Marquez North (WR)
Josh Smith (WR)

I saw Von Pearson drop a pass for the first time. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before because we don’t get to watch every rep of every practice, but I don’t believe I’ve seen a drop from him before.

The team then had two lines of one-on-one offense versus defense 5-yd separation tackling drills where Butch Jones would call-out the two players competing then announce the winner. It was pretty even between winners on offense and defense.

Here’s a look at some of my observations from the scrimmage portion of practice.

Here is the total number of drives the four quarterbacks had in team scrimmage time. The very last situational drive was divided between two quarterbacks, so that’s why you will see the half
Riley Ferguson 8 ½
Justin Worley 7
Nathan Peterman 3 ½
Joshua Dobbs 3

This is the first time we’ve seen separation among the quarterbacks. Butch Jones will be reluctant to acknowledge that but Worley and Dobbs both received more than 2-times the series of Dobbs and Peterman.

All four quarterbacks had good plays and bad. However, Riley Ferguson was responsible for the two worst plays of the entire scrimmage. He threw a quick out that went right to LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin who picked it off and returned it for about a 30-yard return. In a “last play of the game” situation from the opponent’s 18-yard line, Ferguson scrambled out of the pocket and ran out of bounds instead of throwing the ball into the endzone. Butch Jones screamed at him and then used it as a teaching point to the entire team to know the situation.

The defense had its best day. Butch Jones has been challenging the defense, plus LB AJ Johnson played for the first time in a scrimmage. AJ Johnson makes a big difference when he’s in there. Butch Jones says that Johnson makes Maggitt better and Maggitt makes Johnson better. Plus, there is a hug drop-off in the 2nd team linebackers. The defense had some interceptions, tackled better and penetrated into the backfield more in this scrimmage.

RB Devrin Young continues to make plays in space with runs to the outside and catching passes in the flat.

The wide receivers (best unit on the team) had their most inconsistent scrimmage. North, Pearson and Malone had drops in the last play of the game drills.

PK George Bullock had a rougher scrimmage than last week. He missed an extra point and a 49-yard field goal attempt. He connected on a 46-yard field goal.

True freshman 5-star RB Jalen Hurd had a fumble in the redzone. He also had some impressive runs where he showed both power and elusiveness.

The play I hate the most in college football was broken out by OC Mike Bajakian and that is the “line doesn’t move” play where the ball is snapped and just the skill players move, trying to freeze the defense. The pass was incomplete, Worley took an unnecessary shot, it was a wasted down and it was a wasted practice rep. The next time this play works will be the first. It almost always leads to a clean shot on your quarterback. I don’t understand what this or any coaching staff sees in this play call. It’s even worse the baseball bluff to 3rd/bluff to 1st play by pitchers that always fails. Enough already.

CB Cameron Sutton continues to make a case to be one of UT’s punt or kickoff returners as he brought back a punt return 90 yards for a TD.

Punt returners in a punt catching in traffic drill:
Cameron Sutton (CB)
Devrin Young (RB)
Emmanuel Moseley (CB)
Josh Malone (WR)
AJ Johnson (LB)

Yes, AJ was catching punts. He looked good and smooth too. He caught everything even with guys surrounding him trying to distract him. The only thing he didn’t do was come up and catch a short punt in the air. It bounced a few yards and then went out of bounds. Butch then told AJ on the mic, “See, you’re too slow.” Butch loves to needle AJ, and AJ thinks it’s funny.

It was student day and faculty appreciation day, so Vols fans had a chance to see the players for the first time in person. They loved Butch Jones talking and motivating on the microphone. Butch Jones then called the students out onto the field at the close of practice to be an extra distraction for the field goal kickers during attempts to close out practice. After practice, Butch JOnes had DJ and former Vol Sterlin Henton play some good dance music for the student managers to dance to. Then, Butch Jones showed his dance moves to the eruption of the players and fans around them. Pretty cool.

We’ll have more on the News Sentinel Sports Page, weekdays 10am - Noon on The Sports Animal!

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