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Tennessee Volunteers spring football game review; QB drive & unit comparisons

Tennessee Volunteers true freshman WR Josh Malone & CB D'Andre Payne
Tennessee Volunteers true freshman WR Josh Malone & CB D'Andre Payne
UT Athletics Department

Here are some of my observations, notes, stats and opinions from Tennessee football spring practice #14 (Saturday, April 12, 2014) which was the Dish Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

Normally, there would be a 15th practice but Friday's practice was cancelled by Butch Jones.

The announced crowd of 68,548 was the second largest in UT football history.

Practice 14 (Last)
Stats Leaders:
Passing
Justin Worley - 11 of 13, 151 yds 1 TD, 0 INT, 0 sacks, 55 rush yds
Riley Ferguson – 7 of 12, 83 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT, 3 sacks, -7 rush yds, 1 lost fumble
Nathan Peterman – 8 of 11, 81 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT, 1 sack, -1 rush yds
Joshua Dobbs – 6 of 9, 199 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INT, 0 sacks, 59 rush yds, 1 rush TD
Total – 32 of 45, 514 yds, 6 TDs, 1 INT, 4 sacks, 106 rush yds, 1 rush TD, `1 lost fumble

Rushing
Jalen Hurd – 11 carries, 66 yds, 1 TD

Receiving
Josh Malone – 6 catches, 181 yds, 3 TDs

Punting
Matt Darr – 5 for 46.6 avg.

Field Goals
George Bullock – 1 for 1 from 41 yds

Tackles
Riyahd Jones – 8

Sacks
Justin King - 1 ½

Tackles For Loss
Justin King - 2 ½

Interceptions
Malik Foreman – 1

Fumble Recoveries
Danny O’Brien – 1

Here are the drives in the spring game for the quarterbacks and which units were on the field, for perspective, first team or second team.

1.Worley (1st team offense vs. 1st team defense) - FG
2.Peterman except Ferguson for first play (2nd offense vs. 2nd defense) TD
3.Ferguson (1st offense vs. 1st defense)
4.Dobbs (1st offense vs.2nd defense) TD
5.Ferguson (1st offense vs. 1st defense)
6.Dobbs (1st offense vs. 2nd defense) TD
7.Worley (1st offense vs. 1st defense)
8.Peterman (1st offense vs. 1st defense) TD
9.Ferguson (2nd offense vs. 2nd defense) Fumble
10.Dobbs (1st offense vs. 2nd defense) TD
11.Worley (1st offense vs. 1st defense) TD
12.Ferguson (2nd offense vs. 2nd defense)
13.Worley (1st offense vs. 1st defense) TD
14.Peterman (2nd offense vs. 2nd defense)
15.Ferguson (1st offense vs. 2nd defense) TD
16.Dobbs (2nd offense vs. 2nd defense)
17.Worley (2nd offense vs. 2nd defense)
18.Peterman (1st offense vs. 1st defense)
19.Ferguson (2nd offense vs. 2nd defense) INT
20.Dobbs (2nd offense vs. 2nd defense)

Let’s breakdown the quarterback comparison even more to see who they were working with and against.

Worley (5 drives)
Offense - 4 of 5 with 1st team offense
Defense – 4 of 5 vs. 1st team defense
2 TDs & 1 FG

Peterman (4 drives)
Offense: 2 with each 1st & 2nd team
Defense: 2 each vs. 1st & 2nd team
2 TDs

Ferguson (6 drives)
Offense: 3 with each 1st & 2nd team
Defense: 2 vs. 1st team & 4 vs. 2nd team
1 TD, 1 INT & 1 fumble

Dobbs (5 drives)
Offense: 3 with 1s & 2 with 2nd team
Defense: All 5 vs. 2nd team
4 TDs

What does this mean? It means this quarterback race is even tighter with Ferguson falling back and Dobbs rising up.

Yes, Dobbs did all his work versus the 2nd team defense, but he hasn’t done that consistently in scrimmages before today. It is absolutely encouraging for Dobbs. He also played well with the first team offense. Getting the ball accurately to his playmakers and managing the offense was impressive for Dobbs.

For Ferguson, he only faced the first team defense twice. His two turnovers came against the second team defense. He has great arm strength and potential, but he has turned the ball over more than anyone else with those “catastrophic” plays that Butch Jones harps on so much.

I’d put Justin Worley as the leader to be the starting quarterback right now. With the impressive skill position talent, a quarterback that can just not screw things up may be of higher priority than someone to make plays from that position. That’s the balance and the dilemma Butch Jones has to work around with all these quarterbacks.

Overall, the offense was improved with explosive plays and the defense, especially the tackling was bad. Yes, AJ Johnson did not play much and 2 potential starters (S – Brian Randolph & DT – Trevarris Saulsberry) were out for the spring, but it is still a huge concern. 14 of the 18 summer enrolls will be on defense. They’ll need a lot of them to contribute and some to be impact players in their freshmen seasons.

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