With rain on the way into town, Tennessee moved its second workout into the indoor practice facility on Monday night. Here are some notes and observations from what we saw from six periods of open full-padded practice:
Quarterback notes: With Butch Jones saying that a quarterback decision could be looming as soon as this week, we spent an inordinate amount of time watching the signal callers work Monday night. All three – Justin Worley, Joshua Dobbs and Nathan Peterman – had some good throws. Worley had a few noticeable underthrows – a problem that has plagued him in camp.
We charted the quarterbacks in a few drills. In the half-skeleton drill, where a pair of receivers went against a few defenders on one side of the field, this is what we saw:
– Worley complete to Marquez North on a deep-out pattern
– Worley threw one away on what might’ve been a miscommunication
– Dobbs threw Von Pearson a quick-hitter for a minimal gain
– Dobbs threw Josh Smith a quick-hitter, Smith eluded Dillon Bates for a nice gain
– Worley’s deep pass was broken up by Cortez McDowell
– Worley threw another incompletion intended for Pig Howard
They then transitioned to one-on-one matchups between a WR/TE and a DB
– Dobbs complete to Josh Smith against Emannuel Moseley
– Dobbs complete to Ethan Wolf against Brian Randolph
– Worley incomplete pass intended for Vic Wharton
– Worley complete to Jason Croom against Michael Williams
– Worley incomplete on an underthrown deep ball to Howard against Riyahd Jones
– Dobbs incomplete pass intended for Von Pearson
– Dobbs incomplete intended for North against Cam Sutton
– Worley incomplete intended for Josh Malone against D’Andre Payne
– Worley incomplete intended for Branisel against McDowell
– Dobbs incomplete intended for Malone against Moseley
– Dobbs complete to Wolf against Lemond Johnson
The rest of the routes we saw were against air. The quarterbacks (who were rejoined by Peterman at this point, who had been working on a running drill on the other side of the field previously) completed 31 of 36 passes in this drill, with two of the incompletions coming via drops by running back Treyvon Paulk.
Circle of Life: The team circled up for its Circle of Life Drill near the beginning of practice where players go 1-on-1 and try to knock the other out of the circle of teammates. As always, it’s difficult to see each matchup due to the circle of people, but we saw Alex Ellis have a good really good turn, Chris Weatherd and Justin King had perhaps the longest battle, which seemed to end in a stalemate, and Vic Wharton had a nice win over his good friend Todd Kelly Jr.
It was a ho-hum night for the defense on the indoor practice field this evening as the guys mostly went through various drill sessions for the duration of the open portion of practice. But even in the limited work we were able to see, there were a couple things of note:
As Daniel wrote this morning, Todd Kelly Jr. and Cortez McDowell appear to be back full go at this point. Both were back out there again this evening and drew praise from their coaches for their effort. Cortez even drew an attaboy over the loudspeaker from Butch Jones due to his physical play in drill work – a good sign given his recent absence.
Rashaan Gaulden was also back out there and looks to be close to 100-percent as well. Gaulden had a few minor nagging injuries early in camp but he appears to be on the mend as of late. He has some catching up to do, but I still think there is a chance for him to help this team sooner rather than later.
Dillon Bates worked with the first-team defense during running game simulation work against the first team offensive line with A.J. Johnson at the other linebacker position. I don’t think Bates is now a permanent fixture at the first team OLB spot, but with Jalen Reeves-Maybin wearing a non-contact jersey and having a limited role in drill work, it certainly is a good opportunity for Bates to pick up some run with the first team.
Bates’ speed and instincts are clear to see when he’s running around and flying to the football. He is already a fixture on special teams and looks to be climbing the depth chart quickly at his outside linebacker position. He will definitely prove to be a hard guy to keep off of the field this fall.
The defensive line also featured a freshman with the first team tonight as Derek Barnett took all of his reps with the ones this evening as well. The d-line consisted of Barnett, Jordan Williams, Danny O’Brien and Corey Vereen. Barnett was able to make a few solid plays against the first team offensive line tonight, so it doesn’t appear as if there was any letdown from him after having his helmet stripe removed this morning.
Michael Sawyers took reps with the second team d-line tonight also as It’s pretty clear that they are going to expect a lot of newcomers to contribute early along the defensive line. Names like Dimarya Mixon and Owen Williams also come to mind as far as guys who will be seeing a lot of action this fall.Injuries: Marlin Lane, Dylan Wiesman, Mack Crowder and Woody Quinn all spent the open portion of practice in “The Hole.” Curt Maggitt wasn’t seen at practice. Drae Bowles and Derrell Scott both went through drills in a non-contact jersey. Though Scott was limited, he looked very quick running in a few drills we observed.