Notes and observations from the open portion of Thursday’s practice on Haslam Field.
Thursday’s practice featured another particularly strong and steady wind that, once again, impacted all of the quarterbacks’ ability to deliver an accurate football with any semblance of consistency.
Practice began with a short round of ‘Circle of Life’ battles as the team gathered around the paired players. It was difficult to see the matchups, but Brett Kendrick did have a particularly nice rep against Kendal Vickers that drew praise and celebration from his offensive teammates. Chance Hall battled Shy Tuttle to a surprising draw that also caused the offensive coaching staff and players to explode in celebration. Tuttle has gotten the best of most of his teammates this spring in one-on-one matchups, so Hall’s performance proves that while Hall still has a long way to go, he certainly has the potential to be a solid player along Tennessee’s offensive line in time.
4th down work: The first team offense failed on a simulated fourth and one after Jayson Sparks – not Alvin Kamara (thigh) or Jalen Hurd – was stuffed at the line by Dimarya Mixon and Kendal Vickers.
After this impromptu rep, Butch Jones put his team through a lengthy portion of fourth down work at the conclusion of opening drills and a short position-group period that featured the quarterbacks battling the wind on throws down the seam and along the boundary.
The second and third reps for the first team offense in fourth-down work were lost after a Joshua Dobbs pass attempt to Von Pearson fell incomplete and a Jayson Sparks run came up just short of the sticks. The first team would move the chains on their fourth attempt at the conversion as Dobbs threw a perfect strike to Pig Howard running a slant route on fourth and six. Howard looked to be short when he made the initial catch, but some extra effort from the senior-to-be gave the first team offense the win and forced John Jancek to bark at his first team defense for their inability to get off of the field after seemingly having the play stopped.
On the final rep for the first team, Jayson Sparks took an inside handoff from Dobbs and burst through the line for what looked to be an enormous run, but the play was brought back after Pearson was whistled for a hold against a linebacker that helped clear the path up the middle for Sparks’ run.
The starters for the first team offense were as follows:
Von Pearson (slot)
LT – Kyler Kerbyson
LG – Austin Sanders
C – Mack Crowder
RG – Jashon Robertson
RT – Brett Kendrick
The second team offense had an interesting couple of reps as well, including a 50+ yard completion from Quinten Dormady to a walkon receiver (not listed on Tennessee’s roster) who was stripped at the goal line by Devaun Swafford, and a converted swing pass to Logan Fetzner that, once again, nearly caused John Jancek into a conniption.
Injury notes: As mentioned above Alvin Kamara was dressed but was not seen participating in any drills or reps with the first team. Neiko Creamer was on the sidelines or most of the day as well.