Some notes and observations from the open portion of practice on Tuesday afternoon:
That was the theme of Tennessee’s afternoon practice, and rightfully so. After falling behind 14 points in the first few minutes of the Battle of Bristol, Butch Jones made a massive emphasis on starting fast on Tuesday. Whether it was the sprints during stretches or the individual drills, all the coaches seemed to be on the same page as they prepare for Ohio.
Jones started practice with the famous Circle of Life Drill. He called Alexis Johnson’s name four times in a row, obviously wanting to see that extra push from the former JUCO star. Johnson faced Venzell Boulware, Ryan Johnson, and Austin Sanders twice. It was essentially a stalemate during the first two, with Sanders having his way for the most part towards the end.
That drill also saw Nigel Warrior push Marquez Callaway to the edge of the circle. Towards the end, Baylen Buchanan stepped into the ring and called for someone to face him. He hasn’t turned down the heat since he’s arrived in Knoxville.
On the Line
Don Mahoney’s voice echoed over the practice field while the offensive line went full throttle during individuals. Dylan Weisman was one guy that seemed to be working extremely hard, practically pancaking multiple members of the scout team.
The original starting five (Richmond, Weisman, Thomas, Robertson, Kendrick) needs to have a great week in practice, because the coaching staff almost certainly is evaluating the job status of a few of those guys. Richmond is still working hard on his footwork and his techniques. It’s a huge week for him.
It’s also evident that Jack Jones has taken a strong vocal presence with the offensive line drills.
Austin Sanders was a guy that had a good day, dominating Alexis Johnson in the Circle of Life drill.
In the Green
A pretty familiar squad wore green jerseys on Tuesday: Austin Smith, Jalen Hurd, Jauan Jennings, Preston Williams and Josh Smith. The majority of those are likely being worn as more of a precautionary measure. Williams did not look limited in any fashion, after being banged up during the App. State game.
Butch Jones noted on Monday that LaTroy Lewis is expected to miss 2-3 weeks, while Darrin Kirkland Jr. will be week-to-week after this Saturday.
In the Air
There wasn’t a whole lot of passing for Josh Dobbs today, but what the little that he did looked great.
Josh Malone is a guy that this unit is starting to look to as a leader. He had a fantastic grab in practice on Tuesday, and he continues to bring a pretty encouraging vibe to the practice field.
Butch Jones also seemed to be preparing the team for quick changes in a game setting. Towards the end of media availability, Butch called everyone in for the scrimmage setting of practice, then suddenly blew the horn and sent everyone back into kick return calling out “Sudden change! Sudden change!” Whether this was intentional, we can’t be certain. But it was especially surprising for the defensive line, who had to run all the way back to the opposite corner of the field.