Injury update: There’s some good and some bad news on the injury front. First, the bad. Receivers Von Pearson and Josh Smith were both absent from the open periods of practice. Obviously that doesn’t confirm anything for this weekend, but it’s hard to envision either of them having a great shot at playing until we see them actually on the field. (Butch Jones announced after practice that Von Pearson did join the team and practice in a limited capacity after the media left the field).
Marlin Lane (shoulder) practiced in a green, non-contact jersey. Justin Worley had an orange wrap on his throwing elbow, but wasn’t showing any ill-effects from it. Ethan Wolf continues to work with a brace on his knee. Guard/center Dylan Wiesman was held out.
But perhaps against all odds, redshirt senior left tackle Jacob Gilliam returned to practice in pads as the staff continues to explore the possibility of him playing despite tearing his ACL in the season opener against Utah State. They weren’t going through full-contact drills while practice was open, but he was moving side-to-side and going through individual drills, albeit with a heavy wrap or brace on his leg. It’s too early to say if or when he’ll return and how effective he could be, but it appears the Vols are at least giving it a good look.
Drills: The offensive line, which still consists of (L to R) Kyler Kerbyson, Marcus Jackson, Mack Crowder, Jashon Robertson and Coleman Thomas, worked on picking up various stunts and blitzes.
The quarterbacks and receivers also worked on various routes and I thought the QBs, overall, had some of the best reps I’ve seen all season in practice. Not every throw was perfect, but all three threw the ball with confidence. Josh Dobbs, especially, had a ton of zip on his ball and is clearly throwing with a different degree of confidence than he was at any point in fall camp.
That didn’t stop Butch Jones from getting on the QBs and WRs a few times, however. He continued to challenge Worley and Nathan Peterman to talk more and provide more leadership – telling them that he’s never had a “quiet” quarterback before.
He also challenged the receivers – telling them they were wasting reps when they ran routes incorrectly and reminding them that they’ll be facing one of the best cornerbacks in the country this weekend in Vernon Hargreaves III.
• As usual, the practice squad donned the opponents’ uniform color, so it was blue for Florida prep this week. It looks like quarterback Mike Wegzyn will perform the role of Jeff Driskel this week.
• Athletics director Dave Hart was in attendance at practice.