Some notes and observations from Tennessee’s Saturday morning practice/scrimmage inside Neyland Stadium.
The focus of the day was situational football, and Butch Jones put his team through a gauntlet of various in-game scenarios as they held their second scrimmage setting of the spring on ‘Family Day’ inside Neyland Stadium. The defense clearly won the open portion of practice that the media were able to view this afternoon, but they were also aided by a lack of focus from the offense all afternoon. Dropped passes and penalties helped keep the defense in favorable positions throughout the open periods, and they were able to – for the most part – take advantage of the mistakes by the offense.
Here are the high points from today’s practice:
Backed up: The first scrimmage scenario started with the offense having a first and ten backed up on their own two-yard line. The first team defense – which featured Shy Tuttle at tackle for the first time this spring – stuffed two runs up the middle by the first team offense and then forced an incompletion on third down to get off the field for a three-and-out. The defensive line never got a ‘great’ push against the first team offensive line, but the coverage downfield allowed them to supply enough pressure on Dobbs to make him uncomfortable.
The second series for the first team defense featured more of the same. Josh Smith was whistled for offensive pass interference against tight coverage by Malik Foreman that backed the ball up to the one-yard line. After back-to-back incompletions by Joshua Dobbs – a failed deep ball to Pig Howard and a throw-away – the defense was awarded a sack/safety by Butch Jones after Dobbs was ‘touched’ down in the end zone by LaTroy Lewis.
The second team defense also forced a three-and-out on their opening series against the Quinten Dormady-led offense. Jauan Jennings was able to pick up a couple of first downs on the second series featuring the 2’s, but Butch Jones ended the series as they approached midfield.
The defensive starters and second team were as follows:
Todd Kelly Jr.
Overtime: After a short break, Jones put his team through a variety of overtime scenarios. The first team offense scored on their opening drive after gashing the defensive line for multiple big runs, but the defense really appeared to settle in after giving up the early score.
There was very little room through the air for the first team offense this afternoon, and whenever they would try to exploit an opening, the ball was either deflected by the defender or flat-out dropped by the receiver. Malik Foreman had a good day against Josh Smith and Cam Sutton did a nice job of limiting Pig Howard‘s ability to make plays. Sutton locked Howard down on passing plays and tracked him down before he could really get going on his patented ‘Pig sweep’ around the left end.
Hit of the day: Ok, the play resulted in a first down, but Evan Berry and Gavin Bryant combined to absolutely tattoo A.J. Branisel on a pass from Quinten Dormady. Branisel was running a drag across the field with Bryant pursuing in coverage and Berry roaming at his safety position. Credit Dormady for an accurate throw and Branisel for hanging onto the pass, but Berry and Bryant converged at the same time to put a punishing hit on the tight end as soon as the ball touched his hands.
That tackle proved to be crucial for the defense, who were able to get off of the field four plays later after a Dormady pass to the end zone fell incomplete.
If you have any questions about today’s scrimmage, be sure to post them in our forum and we will answer them this afternoon after we leave practice.