Injury Notes: Several pieces of good news on the injury front. Running back Jalen Hurd was at practice and going through drills after being knocked out of the first quarter against Vanderbilt. He was wearing a non-contact jersey, however. Also wearing a non-contact jersey was running back Marlin Lane, who continues to practice with his ankle taped up.
Senior running back Devrin Young (ribs) made his return to practice in a non-contact jersey after missing several weeks. Like his running back teammates, he also was in a green, non-contact jersey. He appeared a little rusty in a zone-read drill, mishandling one of the first handoffs he’s taken since returning from his injury.
Receiver Jason Croom looked 100% after playing sparingly in against Vandy. Center Mack Crowder (knee, ankle) also looked to be a full participant in practice after missing the past couple of weeks. Receiver Johnathon Johnson was running routes, but has his hand in a cast and couldn’t make any catches. Receiver Drae Bowles (undisclosed) was also back on the field going through reps after missing some practice the last couple weeks.
One-on-one matchups: There was somewhat of a training camp feel to practice as the Vols went through some one-one-one matchups at the beginning.
In one-on-ones between receivers and defenders, the offense had a rough day, only catching four of the 13 passes in the goal-line area drill. Vic Wharton (over D’Andre Payne), Alex Ellis (over Todd Kelly Jr.), Neiko Creamer (over LaDarrell McNeil) and Jason Croom (over Emmanuel Moseley) were the players who came up with the receptions. Croom had perhaps the best catch, using his size to get some separation from Moseley and snatching a well-thrown ball over the middle for the scoring.
The offensive line, however, fared much better in one-on-one pass-rushing drills. It was hard to see at times with the team circled around them, but it appeared that all five starting offensive linemen (Kyler Kerbyson, Marcus Jackson, Mack Crowder, Jashon Robertson and Jacob Gilliam) won their individual battles against the defensive line. Crowder, coming off his injury, had an especially good rep in that drill. Butch Jones also called out Vic Wharton and Rashaan Gaulden in the Circle of Life Drill and Wharton appeared to easily get the upper hand against his former high school teammate.
Quarterback drills: Joshua Dobbs had an up-and-down day during the open portion of practice. We charted his throws for one full period of practice and he was 9-of-11 throwing against air over the screens that simulate the defensive line. He had several crisp throws to Pig Howard, but was off rhythm on a couple of throws to Von Pearson as well.
Jones always looks for 100 percent accuracy when throwing against air, so Dobbs will continue to look for consistency throughout the course of these 15 bowl practices.