Tennessee concluded their spring practice today with the annual “Orange and White” game in front of 61,076 fans.
You can check out our recap of the afternoon here.
Butch Jones promised to bring energy to the program and he did that today by making the Orange and White game an event.
Former players were readily available for autographs, Arian Foster manned a DJ booth and over 200 recruits took in the sites and sounds from Neyland stadium.
The first thing different that fans likely noticed was before heading into the locker room, after pre-game warm-ups, Butch Jones had the offense and defense slap hands in a running circle. The gesture has been practiced all spring between the two units.
The Vols then entered the field with a wall of former Tennessee players around them. Over 500 former players were there to take in the spring game. Butch Jones proclaimed during his introductory press conference that the former players would be welcomed back with open arms and he’s went above and beyond that promise.
The Tennessee defense won the game officially, but the “game” was never in doubt. It seemed like every other possession ended on a three and out for the Vol’s offense in the first half.
Junior Justin Worley seemed much more confident under center early on in the game.
Freshmen Nathan Peterman struggled early and didn’t complete his first pass until his fifth series of the game. None of the quarterbacks were live for the game which really seemed to hinder Peterman.
Peterman isn’t a a speedster, but he’s mobile enough to make plays when the pocket breaks down. Several times it appeared Peterman could have ran for yardage, but was the plays were blown dead for a sack, or loss, on the play.
The freshmen did appear to get into a rhythm in the second half, especially on the second drive of the half. Peterman hit Vincent Dallas for a 48 yard completion, but the drive ended with a missed field goal from redshirt sophomore Patrick Toole.
Speaking of kickers, the much maligned Michael Palardy had a good afternoon. Palardy hit field goals from 36, 42 and 52. The 52 yard field goal went exactly 52 yards, hitting the center crossbar, before bouncing through the upright.
The play of both Corey Vereen and Alden Hill was very encouraging for Vol fans.
Corey Vereen had four sacks and was disruptive all day.
Alden Hill ran for over a hundred yards on the day and may finally give the Volunteers a reliable short yardage option.
More quotes from Butch Jones
On the QB competition: It is wide open. Just like every position, it will be open. The growth that a football team can make from May to the end of July can be monumental, if they buy in and work exceptionally hard. Plus, we have our freshmen reporting in June.
On today’s message: The message is loud and clear: There is no other place in the country like Tennessee. All you have to do is look at the evidence—the success of the program, the leadership from our administration, the fan base and our coaching staff. We are going to attract the right players to come play football here at Tennessee. Why would you not want to come here? You see the environment, the chance to build something special. I think that today spoke volumes
On Corey Vereen: Corey Vereen is the type of individual that we want to recruit to come here to Tennessee. He does well in the classroom, he’s quiet, but his game speaks. He has a great motor and he is going to do nothing but get better and better and better. He is quick twitch, he is explosive, but now he needs to get bigger.
On injuries: When you have the amount of receivers that we have out, you can’t make excuses because what if they are out during the season. That’s when individuals step up. It sounds cliché, but the names on the backs of the jerseys may change, but our level of expectation does not. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first, second or third (string) individual in there. Our standard of performance doesn’t change. That’s why we need to continue to recruit and why we need to develop depth, moving forward.