Some notes and observations from the Vols’ practice on Thursday afternoon:
Indoor day: With heavy rains in the area for much of the afternoon, the Vols moved practice indoors on Thursday afternoon for their second indoor session of the spring, going with shorts, shoulder pads and helmets. Butch Jones is usually pretty quick to move it inside during the spring – no reason to risk extra slipping and sliding with over a dozen guys already out this spring.
Smokey gray helmets return: The offense continued to wear the Smokey gray helmets, just as it did on Tuesday, since it was deemed the winner of the “Competition Saturday” scrimmage. The defense will have a chance to claim that honor next week if it wins the scrimmage over the weekend.
Non-contact: Running back John Kelly and linebacker Colton Jumper were on the practice field in green, non-contact jerseys.
Third Down For What?: The familiar “Third Down For What?” song was blaring in the indoor facility as the Vols worked a quick situational third-down scrimmage, practicing plays in 3rd & 4, 3rd & 7 and 3rd & 9 scenarios. The defense, for the most part, controlled this drill, clearly winning five of the six reps with the one clear-cut first down coming on a pass from Joshua Dobbs to Jalen Hurd. On the field opportunity for the offense, Dobbs hit Preston Williams for about six yards, and Butch Jones kept the offense on the field, giving Hurd an opportunity to pick up the first down on the ground this time. So that could be considered somewhat of a split victory since the defense got the stop on third, but not fourth.
Even with numerous studs out this spring on the defensive line, that unit continued to get after the quarterback in what we saw. There were at least a trio of (touch) sacks in the seven reps we saw, with pressure affecting virtually every play. Darrell Taylor, Dimarya Mixon, Paul Bain and Danny O’Brien were just some of the guys I saw in the backfield.
Special guest: Former head coach Philip Fulmer was among the guests at practice.