Tennessee Football Notes And Observations: Practice Six

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    Gospel music echoed from Haslam Field on Sunday morning as the Vols put on full pads for the first time this fall in preparation for their first fall scrimmage on Tuesday.

    Tennessee worked on many of the same things during the 25 minute open portion of practice with a few new wrinkles worked in.

    Here’s our notes and observations from Tennessee’s sixth practice of fall camp.

    Offense

    Starting the day on the indoor practice field, Tennessee’s quarterbacks and running backs got work in the passing game with the backs running routes on air.

    To put things mildly, the running backs had a rough session with an excessive number of drops.

    Once out on Haslam Field, the quarterbacks regained their mojo throwing routes on air to the receivers and tight ends. After some stationary work, the quarterbacks worked on throwing on the run.

    Four quarterbacks repped at the same time, rolling the same direction with four receivers/tight ends running routes. This was a rare area of weakness for Hendon Hooker a season ago and the super senior completed four of his six passes on the drill with both incompletions intended for Jalin Hyatt.

    Hooker overthrew him on the first deep ball and Hyatt seemed to get crossed up from another ball on the second incompletion over the middle. Hooker’s best throw during the drill came rolling left and finding UCF transfer tight end Charlie Browder down the field.

    Tennessee’s tight ends have worked during routes on air more to this point in fall practice then they did a season ago in my estimation. That probably means nothing but is worth keeping an eye on as we work closer to the season opener.

    Southern Cal transfer Bru McCoy was in his full pads Sunday but stretched off to the side during the open portion of practice. Looked like McCoy’s lower leg was getting most of the stretching treatment.

    Center Jerome Carvin was in a similar boat, joining his teammates on the practice field but not participating in the drills as he didn’t have his full pads on. We’ll continue to monitor this going forward but it could be as simple as a rest day for the fifth-year senior.

    After making their way out to the practice field, Tennessee’s running backs worked on reading running lanes and cutting. Lyn-J Dixon’s name is now on his jersey at the running back begins to gain comfort in Knoxville.

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    Defense

    Let’s start with the non or limited participants which stayed the same from the last few days. Defensive backs Christian Charles and Cheyenne LaBruzza were in non contact jerseys while Kamal Hadden was absent from the portion of practice open to the media.

    It’s the third straight practice Hadden has been absent from— something worth monitoring as the Vols work towards their first fall scrimmage.

    The emphasis was on tackling for Tennessee’s cornerbacks with the group working on angles and then tackling drills on the large circular pads. One week into practice and it’s been consistent with who is working with the corners and who is working with the safeties.

    It’ll be interesting to see if Christian Charles gets out of his non contact jersey anytime soon. I’m as high on him as I am any of the unproven players in the secondary, but if he remains limited over the next week it’s hard to see him earning a major role to start the season.

    Byron Young had a lengthy chat with linebackers coach Mike Ekeler while the team stretched Sunday morning. Young’s earned more praise from his teammates than any other player in the first week of fall practice. With the question marks in the secondary, Tennessee needs a big year from its preseason All-SEC First Team selection.

    Once warm ups ended and the defensive linemen made their way to Rodney Garner and drill work, things went similar to Saturday. Freshman defensive lineman Jordan Phillips didn’t finish a strip sack drill properly earning the barking from Garner.

    Omari Thomas looks good in drills. Tennessee has a number of interior defensive linemen we know can contribute, but who can take another step forward and become a really effective player much like Matthew Butler did a season ago? Thomas has my attention and seems like a guy who could do just that.

    Ryan Schumpert is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. Ryan spent three years with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program before joining RTI. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.