Tennessee took the practice field this morning after having Sunday off and, to put it bluntly, they looked like a team that took the day off. The entire team just seemed a little sluggish this morning during the little bit of practice we were able to see and the coaching staff was not amused. There wasn’t much to report today as we were very limited in what we were allowed to see, but here’s what we were able to gather from the morning’s limited action:
OL depth chart: The team didn’t go through their normal walk through portion of practice today but in OL drill work the first team line looked like this:
LT: Jacob Gilliam
LG: Marcus Jackson
C: Mack Crowder
RG: Jashon Robertson
RT: Kyler Kerbyson
Jashon Robertson continues to look very solid at right guard. Coach Don Mahoney spent some time teaching Robertson some of the smaller details of the position during early drill-work and the freshman was picking things up very quickly. Robertson’s recent surge at guard has certainly helped strengthen the right side of the offensive line in the last week or so.
Kickoff coverage: I’ll spare you the entire list of players seen on the first team kickoff unit this morning, but I do think it’s worth mentioning the newcomers that have already found a place there. Chris Weatherd, Dillon Bates and Elliott Berry have all made their way to the top of the depth chart as the Vols appear to be looking for speed and athleticism over bulk on that squad. George Bullock remained as the kickoff specialist ahead of Aaron Medley.
Onside recovery: Coach Mark Elder got some work in with his ‘hands team’ today as they spent much of the special teams period working on fielding onside kicks. Jalen Hurd, Ryan Jenkins, Rashaan Gaulden, Dillon Bates and Todd Kelly Jr. all got some reps during the drill and seemed to do well. It was amazing to see how much detail and thought this coaching staff has put into something as simple as recovering a ball on the ground. Coach Jones and Coach Elder spent a good amount of time teaching all of the players how to properly tuck and roll over a recovered football to protect it from getting ripped away underneath a pile of people. A small detail, but an important one.
Running backs struggle: It was a tough day catching the ball for the running backs, who spent a good amount of their time running routes into the flat with the quarterbacks hitting them for a check down pass. Jalen Hurd, Devrin Young, Marlin Lane and Derrell Scott all had drops and were drifting upfield on their routes instead of running them flat to the sideline. Coach Bajakian and Coach Jones were quick to remedy the problem with some choice words and the running backs were able to finish the drill much better than they started it.
Injuries: Vic Wharton, Johnathon Johnson and Woody Quinn remained absent from practice and again spent the afternoon in The Hole doing some excersizes. Derrell Scott was in a green no contact jersey today but did participate in all of the work we were able to see. Justus Pickett was back in the normal white jersey after wearing the green one for much of the week.
Three-man weave: Butch Jones brought back the three-man weave as a warm-up drill for the team. Three players toss the ball to each other and then run behind the next person and work their way down the field – much like a basketball warm-up – while the Harlem Globetrotters’ theme music plays in the background. Jones told the team it was the first time he’d ever seen them go through the drill without dropping a ball, though he also told them they were painful to watch due to their overall lack of coordination during the drill.
Depth chart: Not a lot to report in terms of depth chart maneuvering. From what we saw of them going through individual drills, it continues to look like walk-on Michael Williams is a serious contender for the cornerback spot opposite of Cam Sutton. That’s still clearly one of the most contested open positions on the defensive side of the ball.
Injuries: DE Curt Maggitt (ankle) wasn’t in pads, but did work on the side running and doing various agility drills. He looks close to returning. DE Jaylen Miller was back in full pads after missing most of last week. S Geraldo Orta practiced in a green, non-contact jersey. DT Trevarris Saulsberry, who was injured in the open practice Saturday night, watched practice with crutches, but with no visible brace or cast on.