Tennessee took to the practice field on Wednesday and began their preparation for Indiana State.
We were there, viewing the first four periods of practice. Here’s some observations from what we saw:
Drew Richmond was back working with the offensive line. As expected, he was at left tackle with Brett Kendrick sliding over to the right side.
Walt Wells was focused on pad level. As usual, he was probably the loudest coach on the field. Trey Smith and Jashon Robertson, who were dominant when they got to the next level of the defense on Monday, excelled the drills we got to see.
Jack Jones slid over to right tackle during today’s practice. Ryan Johnson was getting work at guard alongside Coleman Thomas, Venzell Boulware and Richmond.
Not much has changed here. Jarrett Guarantano and Quinten Dormady were still splitting reps with the first team offense. But that doesn’t tell us much.
Tennessee works with two quarterbacks at a time, so watching routes on air doesn’t tell us too much. But both quarterbacks did look sharp today. There were a couple of dropped passes, including one from Brandon Johnson.
On the jugs machine, Johnson was joined by Josh Palmer and Jeff George in one of the first periods. After taking regular passes from the machine, the receivers were then practicing catching low balls. All of those guys were solid during this drill.
One thing I noticed — Jeff George is receiving a lot of attention from the coaches. With Jauan Jennings out indefinitely, George has an opportunity to step up. He’s a guy who hasn’t made much noise on the field outside of the Orange and White game in 2016. But Jones said during his press conference today that George was going to be given a big opportunity.
During routes vs. air, George was under a watchful eye from both Jones and Kevin Beard. Beard was physical in coverage, pushing the backs of the receivers as the ball came their way, trying to throw them off.
Also of note — Josh Smith was back on the practice field. The senior wide receiver, who is considered “questionable” to play this weekend, was wearing a green non-contact jersey.
- Ty Chandler was once again working on returning kicks in the first period. With Evan Berry questionable to play this weekend, Chandler is projected to get the majority of snaps as the kickoff returner along with Micah Abernathy.
- Butch Jones said today that he needs more individuals to step up on the defensive line. One of those guys is Alexis Johnson, who he was all over today.
- During the first few periods, Robert Gillespie was working with the special teams unit. But the running backs were still working hard. John Kelly was leading every drill with Gillespie away from the group. Kelly looked a little bit like Kevin Beard, leading the first period drill by example and instructing the young players on what they need to do.