The Vols were back on the practice field on Thursday morning as they continued to work towards their matchup against Iowa on January 2nd. The media were given four periods of practice to view today, some of which actually included some live reps, so today’s notes should have a bit more substance than recent practices.
Here are the notes from the offensive side of the ball:
2-point drill: Butch Jones gave his team another “sudden change” moment as they finished up their stretch by immediately having his team line up for “game winning” two-point conversion attempts. The first team offense failed to score on their first attempt when Joshua Dobbs‘ pass to Vic Wharton was dropped in the back of the end zone thanks to tight coverage by Brian Randolph. Wharton had a chance to make the catch, but Randolph was able to do just enough to disrupt the ball and force the incompletion.
The second team offense put a nice conversion on the board against the second team defense when Nathan Peterman narrowly avoided a safety blitz by Todd Kelly Jr. and found a wide open Alex Ellis on a designed throwback. The action of the play was entirely geared toward the right side of the field, with Peterman rolling out in that direction. The call by the defense to blitz Kelly left Ellis with a lot of space in the left half of the end zone and Peterman was able to find his tight end with an easy throw for the score.
The first team would get one more attempt at converting when Joshua Dobbs “passed” the ball to Von Pearson on the fly sweep. (The play is designed as a run but is technically a pass due to how the quarterback delivers the ball to the WR.) Pearson made a nice cut to the outside that froze Jakob Johnson and allowed him to get to the edge and extend the ball over the goal line, but Pearson was ruled out of bounds at the one-yard line. The offense protested the call to no avail and the first team defense won the drill by a fitting score of 2-0.
Scouting Iowa: The entire team went through about ten minutes of scout work featuring various combinations of the first and second team offenses and defenses matching up against the scout team. It was Marlin Lane who took the snaps with the first team offense on their opening series against the second team defense. The first play ended with Joshua Dobbs being tackled for a loss after his primary receiver was covered on the play. The next play was fly sweep to Pig Howard that picked up around six yards. Jalen Hurd then entered at running back with the first team and promptly picked up five yards on a wide run to the short side of the field.
This entire series of scout was played as “thud” which means that there is no full tackling involved.
Creamer coming on: It’s still pretty early in his development at the position, but it seems that true freshman Neiko Creamer may have a solid future ahead of him at tight end. He had three catches for the scout team against the first and second team defenses and was more polished as a blocker than most expected him to be. He drew praise from Butch Jones on back-to-back plays and tight ends coach Mark Elder was seen giving him some extra encouragement after a few other plays. He will redshirt this season, but if he can add a little bit of weight and increase his understanding of the playbook, then he is a player who could have a huge impact on next year’s team.
Injury notes: Marlin Lane, Jalen Hurd and Devrin Young were all in green, no-contact jerseys but participated in all of the drills and the team portion.