Some notes and observations from Tennessee’s spring practice indoors on Thursday:
Circle of Life: After the stretch period was over, Butch Jones yelled for a circle of life drill on the twenty yard line. We weren’t able to see some of the matchups, but you could get an idea of who won each rep for most of them. These were the notable matchups:
- Jonathan Kongbo vs. Trey Smith
- Darrell Taylor vs. Ethan Wolf
- Latrell Williams vs. Baylen Buchanan
- Jauan Jennings vs. Todd Kelly Jr.
- Ryan Johnson vs. Alexis Johnson
- John Kelly vs. Darrin Kirkland Jr.
- Quay Picou vs. Jack Jones
The matchup between Kongbo and Smith was an explosive one. You couldn’t tell who really got the best of it, but that it was an impressive battle.
Jauan Jennings had the most dominant victory of the afternoon. He pancaked Todd Kelly Jr. in the quickest matchup. Ryan Johnson put in a good rep against Alexis Johnson, getting the better of the defensive tackle. Latrell Williams, who continues to have a very impressive spring, got the best of Baylen Buchanan. Darrell Taylor and Quay Picou were also impressive in their reps.
Butch Jones called Kelly vs. Kirkland the “matchup of the spring.” Impressively enough, Kelly seemed to get the best of Kirkland with relative ease.
Quarterback Update: In the obligatory quarterback section of the practice notes, it was once again a fairly uneventful day for this group.
Jarrett Guarantano and Quinten Dormady both lined up in the shotgun with the two different offensive units on the field. Both QBs were simply handing the ball off to John Kelly as he cruised into the endzone. Butch Jones was emphasizing that the play needed to be over in six seconds, counting up to six on the microphone during each rep. The only remote thing of note here: Guarantano was the first QB to run the drill. The first team offense was split up evenly between the two reps, but Guarantano was the first one to run it. Take that as you will.
After that drill, the QBs and wideouts were running quick outs over by the sideline. I thought that they weren’t quite as sharp today as they have been in the past week on slants and go routes. Of course, the point of spring is to work out the timing of routes like these. Some of the quarterbacks started off a bit shakily but got the timing down as the drill went on.
Butch Jones was closely keeping an eye on this group once again today, focusing mainly on the wide receivers. Marquez Callaway and Latrell Williams made a couple of nice grabs on the sideline, but most of the catches were pretty routine.
- The defense worked on interceptions and returns during the “Maxim One” period of practice. Bob Shoop was lofting up easy balls to the secondary, letting them return it into the endzone with ease. Nigel Warrior was working at safety with the first team.
- The first team defensive line was Jonathan Kongbo, Alexis Johnson, Khalil McKenzie and Darrell Taylor. They worked on field goal blocks for the first few periods of practice, and rushed Shoop on multiple stunt blitzes while he lofted balls to the secondary
- Even with no defense on the field, John Kelly looked very explosive taking handoffs from Guarantano and Dormady. Guarantano sells the read option fake well, like Joshua Dobbs would, and also displayed good burst even without the ball.
- We saw more special teams drills today, which included Darrell Taylor showing good speed in pursuing returners. He’s another guy who’s had a good spring so far, stepping into a leadership role on the defensive line.
- Several high school coaches were in attendance for practice today. This weekend is Tennessee’s high school football coaching clinic on campus.