Notes and observations from the open portion of Tuesday’s practice on Haslam Field.
As expected after a sluggish afternoon for the passing game during Saturday’s scrimmage, today’s emphasis was on getting the quarterbacks and receivers on the same page and building back some confidence that may have been shaken coming out of the weekend.
One-on-ones: The offense got off to a great start during a few early one-on-one reps to open practice. Von Pearson climbed the ladder over Cam Sutton for a perfectly thrown fade route by Joshua Dobbs that resulted in a touchdown and a spirited celebration by offensive players, coaches and grad assistants. Josh Malone drew a pass interference call against Malik Foreman on the second red zone rep, and while Ethan Wolf just missed a ball that deflected off of his fingertips on the third and final rep, the offense clearly came away with a much more positive attitude than what we saw when the drill began.
3MW: After the brief red zone work, the entire team went through a few reps of Butch Jones’ patented three-man-weave as the Harlem Globetrotters theme blasted through the PA. At one point, Jones got on the microphone and asked Tommy Thigpen to “Please coach up Gavin Bryant, they don’t play basketball where he’s from.” Jones’ knock on basketball in the state of Alabama was well-received by onlookers at Haslam Field.
7-on-7: Today was the first seven-on-seven, or “skeleton” work that we were allowed to see this spring, and whatever confidence the offense may have gained from the early wins in the red zone reps was at least slightly diminished at the end of the third period.
Joshua Dobbs started things off with a solid check-down completion to Ethan Wolf for a seven yard pickup, but back-to-back drops by Josh Smith and Pig Howard – on what should have been relatively easy catches – killed the momentum for the first team offense. The final rep for the first team was an incomplete deep ball from Dobbs to Howard that may or may not have been interfered with, but it wasn’t the best series for the 1’s.
During the second team’s series, Josh Malone made two outstanding catches on throws from Quinten Dormady that each resulted in first down yardage. The first was an absolute beauty of a deep ball along the right sideline that Malone was able to haul in before stepping out of bounds, and the second was a deep comeback on the left sideline that Malone had to really extend for in order to secure the catch. Malone would later draw the ire of Mike DeBord Zach Azzanni and Marquez North for not “finishing the play” during routes vs. air, but I would mark today down as an overall successful practice for #3 during the periods open to the media.
Injury notes: There were some new additions to the practice field today as Jason Croom and Marcus Jackson were on the practice field today in shorts and helmets participating in limited no-contact reps with the rest of their position groups. Jalen Hurd, Pig Howard and Marquez North all participated in the open periods of practice that we were able to see, but all three wore green, no-contact jerseys. Alvin Kamara was back on the practice field today and was a full participant based on what we saw.