Some notes and observations from the defensive side of the ball as the Vols worked out in Neyland Stadium for Student Appreciation Day.
Circle of Life: We got our best look at the Circle of Life drill this spring as Butch opened up the circle to let the students see some battles. A few things that stood out from the defensive perspective:
• Butch Jones started the drill out by pitting the mammoth duo of Charles Mosley and Shy Tuttle against each other. The almost-700 pound battle ended with Mosley getting the upper hand and Jones declaring him the winner.
• Elliott Berry battled A.J. Branisel to a virtual tie
• Perhaps the best rep of the day from the defensive side of the ball came from Andrew Butcher, who overpowered Jack Jones for a convincing win
• Kendal Vickers got overpowered by Dylan Wiesman
• Emmanuel Moseley overpowered Malik Foreman in a rep that Butch dubbed the battle to find out who the second cornerback would be
• As you would expect from two seniors, Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil had a good collision and battle that Randolph came out on top of
• Evan Berry and Todd Kelly Jr. followed that with another good battle that was close, but Berry ended up with the upper hand
• LaTroy Lewis got driven back by Dontavius Blair
• Gavin Bryant threw down Colton Jumper
Injuries/absences: We didn’t see defensive back Rashaan Gaulden in the open portion of practice. Butch Jones confirmed after practice that he will miss six weeks after having surgery on his hand that “wasn’t tendon-related.” Defensive back Devaun Swafford was in a green, non-contact jersey. Randolph and McNeil, after being absent from practice on Thursday, returned on Saturday.
Emmanuel Moseley, who has been back for a few practices, said he lost a very minimal amount of weight
Barnett and Phillips working at LB: One interesting thing of note was that Kyle Phillips and Derek Barnett, both working out in just helmets and workout gear as they rehab, were getting reps in individual drills with the linebackers. That obviously doesn’t necessarily mean a permanent position change or anything like that, but interesting that, at least right now, they are being used in that capacity.
Situational scrimmage notes:
• With the students surrounding the team, the offense got some one-play opportunities to score from inside the red zone. On the plays we were able to see, the offense converted 3-of-7 opportunities on plays that started from the 3, 8 or 12-yard line. After practice, Jones said he was pleased with the defense’s ability to keep the offense out of the end zone.
• One of the best plays came from walk-on defensive lineman Charles Fogler, who got his hand up and deflected a pass from Quinten Dormady that gave Gavin Bryant a fantastic opportunity to make an interception in the end zone, but Bryant wasn’t able to capitalize.
• The coaches were working a lot of reserves in to the starting lineup during this period. Colton Jumper got some reps as an outside linebacker, Shy Tuttle was starting at defensive tackle and Chris Weatherd was starting at defensive end. Dillon Bates, who said he’s been getting mostly inside linebacker reps this spring overall, was getting some work at outside linebacker during what we saw.