Team 118 donned the full pads for the first time this preseason and the team went straight to work once stretching ended, immediately breaking into one-on-one passing match-ups. It was a much more spirited afternoon on the practice field as the team seemed eager to put yesterday’s practice behind them. The coaches, graduate assistants and players were all extremely amped up to begin practice and I think the fact that they finally got to play real football only added to that energy.
The pads were popping on Haslam Field and the Vols played some real football, so here are the noteworthy items from practice:
One-On-One: We got a chance to see our first passing drill action that included offense and defense going full speed. The competition finished with the defense winning 8 of the 15 reps. The plays began on the 5-yard line and all balls were thrown into the end zone. The match ups are listed below with the winner’s name in bold.
Marquez North vs. Justin Coleman
Von Pearson vs. Cam Sutton
Josh Smith vs. Malik Foreman (Pearson with a fantastic toe-tapping catch.)
Jason Croom vs. D’Andre Payne
Ryan Jenkins vs. Emmanuel Moseley
Josh Malone vs. Riyahd Jones
Johnathon Johnson vs. Mike Williams
Ethan Wolf vs. Brian Randolph (Randolph came away with an interception on this play.)
Alex Ellis vs. Devaun Swafford
Daniel Helm vs. Todd Kelly Jr.
Brendan Downs vs. Evan Berry
A.J. Branisel vs. A.J. Johnson (Johnson went full beast-mode on this play, throwing Branisel to the ground at the line.)
Alex Ellis vs. LaDarrell McNeil
Ethan Wolf vs. Curt Maggitt
Daniel Helm vs. Lemond Johnson
Quarterback Work: I thought the quarterbacks looked a little bit better today. In the seven-on-seven or ‘skeleton’ work, the quarterbacks went 5 for 8 and actually moved the chains a couple of times without making any mistakes. Worley and Josh Dobbs took a series each with the ones and twos, respectively, and Mike Wegzyn took the third team reps (more on him later).
In drill work, the quarterbacks finished 22 of 32 on end zone throws against air. That number probably looks worse than it really was as multiple times receivers failed to get their feet down and make plays that they should have made – they are ruled incomplete, but the quarterbacks actually made some nice throws in this portion. As the players get their timing down, this is an area that will prove to be a big strength for this team given their size at WR.
Wharton Making Moves: Freshman receiver Vic Wharton continues to garner a lot of praise from both Zach Azzanni and Butch Jones. In fact, he is probably the only player to be praised daily by this staff.
Wharton continues to impress with his route running and effort during drills. He is a quick study when Azzanni teaches technique and always tries to get as many reps in as he can during drill work. At this rate, Wharton looks like he is positioning himself for a lot of playing time in the fall.
Wegzyn at 3: I’m definitely not willing to call this one official, but, as I mentioned earlier, Mike Wegzyn did in fact take the third team reps at practice today in skeleton work and in the one-on-one portion of practice. The redshirt junior transfer from UMass has had a consistent start to practice and appears to have been rewarded for his efforts on Tuesday. We will certainly keep our eyes on the QB depth chart this summer for any other moves, but at least for today Wegzyn was positioned ahead of redshirt sophomore Nathan Peterman.
Here is the link to the Defensive Notes and Observations.