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Notes: Vols’ Spring Practice Session 4-4-19

Photo by Nathanael Rutherford/RTI

Tennessee hit the practice field once again on Thursday, and the Orange & White Game looms next weekend. The Vols will have another scrimmage over this upcoming weekend, but Thursday was more of the same in terms of drills and routines.

Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and staff writer Ben McKee were on the field to observe the open portion of practice on Thursday. Here are their notes and observations from Thursday’s practice session.

What’s the defensive line rotation looking like? Who made an interesting move on the linebacker depth chart? We look at that and more in our Premium Practice Report over on RTI Premium!

Nathanael’s Notes

  • To start, there are a few position changes I want to note. Tyus Fields wasn’t working with the cornerbacks, instead working with the safeties during the open portion. Daniel Bituli and Quavaris Crouch initially started practice with the inside linebackers, but they both moved over to work with the outside linebackers halfway through the open portion. Deangelo Gibbs was still working with the safeties, and he’ll likely stay there the remainder of spring.
  • Unless I just somehow missed him, I didn’t see J.J. Peterson out on the practice field today. We’ll see if Jeremy Pruitt addresses that at some point, but he’s noted before that Peterson has been banged up, so I wouldn’t look too much into that.
  • I thought Kivon Bennett got a lot of work in with the outside linebackers today, and he could work his way into the rotation this fall if he keeps it up. There hasn’t been a lot of consistency behind Darrell Taylor with that unit, so that second OLB spot is completely up for grabs.
  • Trevon Flowers more or less looks like his old self, so it doesn’t look like the injury he sustained in the Georgia game last year that kept him out several weeks is bothering him. I also like some of what I’ve seen from Theo Jackson so far.
  • Tennessee needs either Savion Williams or Darel Middleton to make a big impact this fall. Maybe both. I’m just not all that impressed with the Vols’ depth on the defensive line. I think their options as starters are good, but beyond that there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done by the younger group of players there.

Ben’s Observations

Practice No. 11 of the spring was much of the same for the Vols – at least in the open portion.

The offensive line began practice by working underneath chutes, and as they came out of the chute straddling a board, hitting a sled and driving it forward a couple of yards. Will Friend was very vocal during this period, enforcing the need to be aggressive with the sled.

From left to right, the O-line lineup was Trey Smith at left tackle, Riley Locklear at left guard, Jerome Carvin at center, K’Rojhn Calbert at right guard, and Ryan Johnson at right tackle.

As for the second group to go, the offensive line consisted of Jahmir Johnson at left tackle, Wanya Morris at left guard, Chris Akporoghene at center, Ollie Lane at right guard, and Marcus Tatum at right tackle. Morris also worked at left tackle as he had a tight end to his left in a separate drill.

It should be noted that I don’t believe this is any indication of the first and second team units, but this was the order in which the offensive linemen went through the drill.

As for the tight ends, they also worked on blocking – per usual. I’ve yet to see the tight ends catch a pass in the open portion of practice this spring.

With Brian Niedermeyer leading the way, the group’s first blocking drill was focused on coming off the line of scrimmage and matching up a linebacker – or in this case, a sled. Niedermeyer was adamant about hand placement throughout the drill. The group then moved on to work with the tackles in a different blocking drill.

Dominick Wood-Anderson led the group in each drill as he has all spring. The following order in the drill was Austin Pope, Jacob Warren, Princeton Fant, James Brown, Andrew Craig, and Jackson Lowe.

The wide receivers started practice by working on high-pointing the football before working against man coverage as they came back to the football. While the wide receivers went through individual drills, the running backs and quarterbacks worked on routes out of the backfield. They were as far away from the media as possible, so it was hard to gather many details.

When the wide receivers and quarterbacks linked up to work on routes vs. air, the receivers focused on re-stacking the defensive back. There was a red line painted on the field to help assist the receiver as he ran a hitch route.

The receivers then ran corner routes with the quarterbacks rolling out of the pocket. On the day, there were several balls that hit the ground. No particular person was to blame as it was a combination of wide receivers simply dropping the ball or quarterbacks over-throwing their targets.

Jauan Jennings, Marquez Callaway, and Josh Palmer continue to look good. Redshirt sophomore Jacquez Jones made a nice catch that drew praise from the coaches.

Alongside Tee Martin and Chris Weinke, Jim Chaney continues to primarily work with the quarterbacks and wide receivers.

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