Some notes and observations from the indoor practice field as the Vols continued to prepare for Nebraska and the Music City Bowl on Friday afternoon.
Injury notes: Running back Alvin Kamara, defensive back Rashaan Gaulden and safety Todd Kelly Jr. remained in green, non-contact uniforms. Evan Berry, Kahlil McKenzie, Shy Tuttle and Chance Hall are the players who have been ruled out for the Dec. 30th matchup against the Cornhuskers.
Pass-rush drills: One-on-one pass-rush situations were the focal point early in practice with Tennessee’s defensive linemen getting a chance to go head-to-head with their counterparts on the O-line.
Here are a few reps that stood out:
- Coleman Thomas had probably the best rep for the offense. He completely stuffed Charles Mosley from getting any kind of drive into the backfield and easily won the rep.
- Marcus Tatum looked like a freshman on a couple occasions. Senior LaTroy Lewis blew by him on one of the opening reps, again showing that Tatum has plenty work to do this offseason following a season that he was forced into action after a redshirt was planned for him.
- Jonathan Kongbo had a nice speed move to get around Nathan Niehaus
- Quay Picou had some nice foot work on an interior pass rush against Austin Sanders. He juked him out and easily got into the backfield.
- Alexis Johnson appeared to be moving well in several drills, and certainly held his own in this pass-rush one
- Drew Richmond got one of the toughest matchups: Derek Barnett. Barnett got around him, but Richmond was able to guide him out wide enough that it probably would’ve prevented a sack in a true game situation. It was a pretty good overall rep for the redshirt freshman offensive tackle.
Quarterback battle: Yes, Joshua Dobbs has another game, but it’s been entertaining to see the competition for the 2017 quarterback battle get underway in the past few weeks. It’s going to be a good one. There’s plenty of justifiable buzz about Jarrett Guarantano, who looks more and more comfortable making all the throws and regularly shows off his impressive zip on the ball.
But don’t sleep on Quinten Dormady. He was very accurate in the limited drills we saw on Friday, and he has a great understanding of routes and ball placement as well. Those two continue to stand out as the top candidates with Sheriron Jones and commitment Will McBride hoping to make a push in the spring.
Upcoming schedule: Friday was Tennessee’s final open practice in Knoxville. The Vols will have a few more closed sessions before departing for Nashville on Dec. 26, where they will have a few more sessions in the Music City before the Dec. 30th matchup.