Team 118 finished off their full speed preparations for Missouri today on Haslam Field amidst freezing temperatures and a relentless, driving wind that made punters look like heroes and quarterbacks look like schmoes on Tuesday evening. The media were given three open periods of practice to watch today, here are the noteworthy items from the offensive side of the ball:
Quarterbacks: The quarterbacks began practice by taking snaps from under center as former Vol offensive lineman (now Offensive Quality Control) Anthony Parker walked up and down the line with a water bottle and soaked the football and hands of the center repeatedly. Joshua Dobbs worked with de facto center Dylan Wiesman during this period and everything appeared to go just fine between the two. Wiesman looks like he is in line for his first career start at center this weekend, as it appears he is the likely choice to replace injured center Mack Crowder – who was again absent from the practice field today.
As practice got ramped up, the entire offense went through their paces against the scout team and really looked to be clicking as far as tempo and execution were concerned. We aren’t allowed to report on specific plays that the team worked on against the scout team, but everything they did went off without a hitch and the coaching staff was very pleased with all they were able to accomplish.
Offensive line: This group got in some extended reps with Don Mahoney before working with the entire offense against the scout team. There wasn’t a lot to report from this group, but it did appear that Dontavius Blair was having a good day. The staff elected to redshirt Blair this year in an attempt to have him ready by next season, and the JUCO junior drew some heavy praise from Don Mahoney after several reps today for his effort and toughness.
Running backs: Very little to report from this group today. We didn’t see them do much outside of some footwork and fundamental blocking drills before joining the rest of the offense for their work against the scout team. Jalen Hurd looked like a beast, as usual, and Marlin Lane had a few nice cuts on his injured ankle that would indicate it is having a minimal impact on his play at this point.
Wide receivers/tight ends: This group was mostly scattered during the special teams portion of practice before settling in with the rest of the offense to go through today’s play script. Von Pearson continues to impress with his cutting ability and explosion, and finally looks like the Von that everyone saw in August. Alex Ellis saw some reps with the first team offense today at tight end. Ellis has been a high-effort player all season and has really emerged in recent weeks as a downfield threat in the passing game.
Injury/absence notes: Drae Bowles, Marquez North, Austin Sanders and Devrin Young were not seen during the open periods of practice. Jalen Hurd and Marlin Lane were all in green non-contact jerseys this afternoon but didn’t appear to be limited in any way. Freshman running back Derrell Scott still has a very large cast on his right hand after having surgery on his thumb a few weeks ago, but the true freshman did go through all of the drills we were able to see.