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Offensive Practice/Scrimmage Notes: 4/11

Joshua Dobbs-1-3Some notes and observations from the offensive side of the ball as the Vols worked inside Neyland Stadium early Saturday afternoon.

Injuries/absences: Coleman Thomas (legal) remained out. Receiver Marquez North was in a green, non-contact jersey and didn’t participate in any live drills. Receiver Pig Howard was also wearing green, but he was going through most of the drills. Tight end Neiko Creamer and running back Alvin Kamara were both dressed out, but very limited. Kamara didn’t take any “team” reps. Jalen Hurd remains in a green jersey as well, but he got some reps in team action, though coaches tried their best to keep defenders from taking him all the way to the ground.

Scrimmage thoughts: They did a lot of situational scrimmage work on Saturday with a heavy focus on back-to-the-goal-line, work and overtime situations.

In short, I thought it was a very poor day for the offense, particularly the passing game. It was probably one of the worst days for the receivers I’ve seen since maybe early 2013. Virtually every receiver on the roster had some kind of drop or poor effort at some point. They did it in the warm-up drills and they did it in the scrimmage setting. It was a bad effort overall and you could tell it was wearing thin on the coaching staff.

Some of the blame for that lack of success goes to the quarterbacks as well, as they didn’t have a very impressive performance either, overthrowing plenty of passes. On the flip side, some credit has to go to the DBs for tight coverage in a lot of situations.

Here’s a rough look at how the offense did in a scenario where they started backed up to its own goal line: 

1st-Team Offense
– 3 & out with a pass from Joshua Dobbs to Pig Howard coming up short on third down

2nd-Team Offense
– 3 & out with a third-down overthrow from Quinten Dormady to Josh Malone

1st-Team Offense
– Got one first down (on a PI call) but then Butch Jones ruled the series over when it was ruled that Dobbs was touched in the end zone for a safety

2nd-Team Offense
– Jauan Jennings led maybe the most impressive effort of the day for the offense, leading an 8-play drive that got the offense clear of their own end by completing passes to Johnathon Johnson and Josh Malone. Jennings had a couple keepers of his own and walk-on running back Jayson Sparks had several nice runs as well. Jennings didn’t do anything too special, but he did a good job of managing the offense, getting rid of the ball and guiding the team down the field to win that particular scenario

They then went into overtime scenarios:

1st-Team Offense:
Probably the best drive for the first-team offense. Jalen Hurd appeared to run for about a 20-yard touchdown on the second play, but they went back and ruled that he’d been touched (since he’s in a non-contact jersey) at about the 12. Still, it was a strong run that likely would’ve been a TD in truly live action. Dobbs had a keeper for about seven yards and three plays later, Sparks punched in a touchdown from about two yards out

2nd-Team Offense:
– Dormady wasn’t able to move the ball as a sack led to a three-and-out that was salvaged by a nice-looking 46-yard FG by Aaron Medley that had plenty of room to spare

1st-Team Offense:
– Runs by Dobbs and Hurd weren’t enough to move the chains and Medley hooked a 34-yard field goal attempt to leave the offense with nothing on that drive

2nd-Team Offense:
– Another decent drive led by Jennings. This one, which came mostly on the ground, was a 7-play drive that included one first down (a holding call on Chance Hall then set it back) and set up a 35-yard field attempt for George Bullock, which he converted

1st-Team Offense:
– In this particular scenario, the offense was down eight points, so it had to go for it. This was a particularly frustrating drive for the starters. A holding call on Brett Kendrick set the offense back and dropped passes by Pig Howard and Ethan Wolf prevented the offense from overcoming it. Dobbs did complete a nice fourth-down strike to Howard, but it was short of the first down by a couple yards.

2nd-Team Offense:
– Led by Dormady, this unit was able to convert one first down to tight end A.J. Branisel, but overall, the eight-play drive came up empty after three incomplete passes at the end of the drive.

Depth chart notes: 

This is what the lines looked like:

LT: 1. Kyler Kerbyson 2. Dontavius Blair
LG: 1. Austin Sanders 2. Thomas Edwards
C: 1. Mack Crowder 2. Dylan Wiesman
RG: 1. Jashon Robertson 2. Chance Hall
RT: 1. Brett Kendrick 2. Jack Jones
TE: 1. Ethan Wolf 2. A.J. Branisel

– Pig Howard, Josh Smith and Von Pearson were getting work with the first-team offense at receiver. Josh Malone, Johnathon Johnson and walk-on Logan Fetzner were getting much of the work with the second team on Saturday.

– Dobbs continues to get all the first-team reps at QB with the first team while Dormady and Jennings are splitting the second-team work.

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