Some notes and observations from the offensive side of the ball at the open portion of Saturday morning’s practice:
Team 119 made their way to Neyland Stadium for practice number six of the spring this morning. New head basketball coach Rick Barnes was in attendance, as was Johnny Majors and several other former players. The media were given five periods of practice to watch today, including fifteen minutes of live scrimmage action. Here are the high points from this morning’s action:
Starters on offense:
Von Pearson (slot)
LT – Kyler Kerbyson
LG – Austin Sanders
C – Mack Crowder
RG – Jashon Robertson
RT – Brett Kendrick
Scrimmage notes: This was clearly a day for the first team offense to work on the ground-game, and they got things clicking very early during the scrimmage. On play number two of the opening drive (which started at midfield), Joshua Dobbs handed off to Alvin Kamara on a stretch play around the right side. Kamara appeared to be hemmed in on the play once he reached the sideline, but then he gave a glimpse of what his coaches and teammates have been raving about all spring. Kamara hit the sideline, turned up off of the outside hip of Cody Blanc’s perfect block on the cornerback, and exploded up the sideline for around a forty-yard gain which included a stutter step that left Brian Randolph grasping at air. The move on Randolph allowed other defenders to catch up to Kamara at around the eight-yard line, but Kamara was able to punch it in four plays later from the one-yard line.
Jalen Hurd – still wearing the green jersey to limit his contact – was chomping at the bit on the sidelines once his team reached the goal line, visibly begging the offensive coaching staff to let him punch it in for the score. But Kamara would touch the ball on all six plays of the first team’s opening drive, clearly that he has what it takes to be a star at this level. It wasn’t just his speed or open-field moves that impressed me today; it was also his toughness. Kamara finished his runs by delivering hits to defenders instead of receiving them, and showed plenty of toughness and grit around the goal line to find the end zone on his forth carry from inside the 10. Senior Chris Beck took all of the reps at running back for the second team.
Elements: As is usually the case for an April in Knoxville, the weather was a factor today as the gusty winds really seemed to impact the quarterbacks’ ability to push the ball vertically with any consistency. Neither Joshua Dobbs nor Quinten Dormady completed any of their throws down the field during the open portion of the scrimmage that we could see. Dobbs sailed one pass – aided by the wind – over Pig Howard‘s head down the left sideline, while Dormady’s deep shot to Johnathon Johnson down the right sideline hit a wall of wind that caused it to hang in the air. This allowed Evan Berry to find the ball and make a great, leaping catch for the interception. I wouldn’t call it a poor read or decision on Dormady’s part to make the throw, just some bad luck, bad timing and a really great play by Berry to snag it out of the air.
Miscellaneous: Newcomers Jack Jones and Chance Hall took the reps with the second team offensive line along with Dontavius Blair, Thomas Edwards and Dylan Wiesman. Blair earned a holding penalty on the first play of the second team’s opening drive, but appeared effective against the second team defensive line afterwards.
Josh Malone, Josh Smith and Johnathon Johnson made the start at receiver for the second team with Dormady at quarterback.