Some notes and observations from the defensive side of the ball from the open portion of Wednesday’s practice:
Injury update: DT Trevarris Saulsberry continues to look like he’s full-go at practice. Butch Jones indicated on Tuesday that Saulsberry’s return is still up in the air, but it seems very reasonable that he could play at Georgia next week. Freshman CB Rashaan Gaulden continues to practice with a soft cast on his right hand. DB Geraldo Orta practiced in a green, non-contact jersey.
Defensive line notes: The defensive line worked on twists and stunts and got some one-on-one work against the offensive linemen. Derek Barnett had a really good rep against Brett Kendrick in that drill, getting under his pads and driving him right back into where the quarterback would’ve been. The offense seemed to get the upper-hand in the drill, though the defensive players were lobbying for holding several times in the unofficiated drill. Kendal Vickers continues to get some reps at both the defensive end and defensive tackle spots. Owen Williams also continues to look the part. He was working as a starter during some drills, though we haven’t seen much live action in practice this week, so hard to say if he has a legitimate chance to take away Danny O’Brien’s starting job.
Linebacker notes: Getting off blocks and making tackles was the focus of a couple drills for the LBs. That’ll be critical against Georgia next week. Arm tackles won’t bring a running back like Todd Gurley down. The linebackers will have to get off the offensive linemen completely and square-up the Heisman candidate running back if the Vols are going ot have a chance.
DB notes: The cornerbacks worked on their leverage – having to shuffle and backpedal under a chute without hitting their head. They also worked on jamming receivers on the line and going up for interceptions as well.