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Offensive Practice Notes: 3/24

Mike DeBord-1-7Some notes and observations from the offensive side of the ball at Tennessee’s first spring practice on Tuesday:

Quarterback thoughts: Joshua Dobbs (who was wearing a GoPro Camera on his helmet) largely picked up where he left off last season. You can tell he’s bulked up a touch and he’s clearly the No. 1 guy out there – taking all the first reps and leading the group. There were some missed throws, but plenty of passes that looked like they were coming from a high-level SEC starter as well. It’ll be interesting to track his consistency throughout the spring.

I was impressed by true freshman Quinten Dormady. He can sling it. He has a somewhat interesting three-quarters release and a compact throwing motion, but it seems to work for him. He was taking the No. 2 reps in most of the QB drills behind Dobbs and when those two threw it, they looked like a No. 1 and 2 SEC quarterback duo working. Dormady’s big too. He’s listed at 6-4, 200, and he looks every bit of that.

Freshman Jauan Jennings, as Butch Jones alluded to at his press conference yesterday, is a bit behind in terms of his quarterback mechanics. Don’t get the wrong impression – he threw some passes that were impressive, but there were a lot of inaccurate wobblers as well that showed that he’s a bit behind the others right now. There’s no doubt he’s fast though. In one drill he handed off to Alvin Kamara out of the shotgun and almost beat him to line while carrying out his fake.

In terms of coaching, DeBord did, indeed, work with the QBs the whole time that the media was there. Graduate assistant Nick Sheridan was actively working with them as well, however, and Jones had a close eye on the position as well, and had some pointers for Dobbs at one point.Alvin Kamara-1-5

Running back observations: This is the toughest position to evaluate this spring for two reasons – the lack of depth and the lack of contact so far. Jalen Hurd is non-contact and was wearing a green jersey. Alvin Kamara appears to have good athleticism and decent size, but it truly is tough to form many initial impressions of him before there’s some actual football being played. Walk-ons Jayson Sparks and Chris Beck are the only others working at RB right now.

Receivers/tight ends notes: Marquez North (shoulder) was back out there in a green, non-contact jersey going through the receiver drills. At least in drills, Pig Howard and Von Pearson (who is sporting some crazy yellow/orangish dreads) were generally the first two to go. Josh Smith, who looked a touch rusty, is back with his ankle taped up and Cody Blanc returned from a year-long absence with no noticeable wraps or braces.

Josh Malone, who generally worked with the second group in drills, had an up-and-down day. At one point in the third period he had to re-run a route after dropping a pass. But he also had some good routes and catches that drew praise from the coaches.

Ethan Wolf is the clear-cut No. 1 tight end and got the first reps there in drills I saw. It’s a mixed bag behind him. Joe Stocstill, Neiko Creamer and A.J. Branisel all got reps at No. 2. Creamer looked like he has added some weight over the offseason.

Offensive line observations: We saw two offensive lines work during one pass-protection drill:

The starters were:
LT Kyler Kerbyson
LG Dylan Wiesman
C Mack Crowder
RG Jashon Robertson
RT Coleman Thomas

Second team:
LT: Brett Kendrick
LG: Austin Sanders
C: Ray Raulerson
RG: Chance Hall
RT: Jack JonesOffensive Line-1-5

Dontavius Blair was working with the scout team. Chance Hall worked as both a tackle and guard over the course of practice. Crowder, Robertson, Raulerson and Wiesman all got some work at center.

Jones talked a lot about Coleman Thomas pushing Mack Crowder at center, but we didn’t see any of that today. Again, with it being so early in spring practice, a lot can still happen, so nobody’s position or spot on the depth chart is set in stone. It was still interesting that they basically started with the most experienced five on the OL. As for Blair – don’t want to make early conclusions, but possibly not a great sign that he wasn’t working in the two deep in what was seen today.

General notes:

• Joc Bruce, who is expected to join the team this summer in a blueshirt capacity, was at practice as an observer. He spent time watching the punt returners, receivers and running backs.

• AD Dave Hart and Miami Dolphins tackle Ja’Wuan James were both in attendance as well.

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