The Tennessee Volunteers had their second highest attended spring game in history on Saturday as the Orange team (defense) beat the White team (offense) 95 to 71 on Saturday afternoon.
The announced attendance for Saturday’s game was 63,076. The record was set was in 1986 when 73,801 fans attended the game.
Early in the first half the story of the game was the defense. Early enrollee Corey Vereen had four sacks in the first half as the offense struggled to get first downs. Tennessee had 17 first downs total, but were only 5-of-23 on third down conversions for the game. The Vols were also 0-for-3 on fourth down.
The white team (offense) did manage to score on the third drive of the game on a 42 yard field goal from Michael Palardy. The senior kicker also hit a 52 yard field goal just before halftime that bounced in off the upright. The Vol’s struggles in the kicking game were evident last year and the three made field goals today from Palardy are an encouraging sign for Tennessee fans.
Justin Worley got the first team reps as redshirt freshmen Nathan Peterman worked mostly with the second team. Peterman struggled early in the game, completing only 3 of his 11 passes in the first half.
Worley for the most part looked more comfortable under center than his freshmen counterpart Peterman. Worley finished the game 8-of-18 for 128 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
The first half was highlighted by two plays in particular. With just over six minutes to go in the half Worley was intercepted on a deep pass by Brian Randolph. Worley would recover two possessions later with a 58 yard touchdown pass from Justin Worley to wide receiver Cody Blanc.
Outside of the play from Corey Vereen the biggest story of the day was perhaps running back Alden Hill. The redshirt freshmen finished with 101 yards on 18 carries. After the game Butch Jones said of Hill “Today’s performance summarizes his spring”. Senior running back Rajion Neal finished with 34 yards on 11 carries. Neal did add two catches for 42 yards
Overall the day provided an enjoyable atmosphere that engaged fans — there was plenty of energy in Neyland Stadium.
Butch Jones let several fans call plays during the game, including Justin Martin of “Duck Dynasty”. One of the plays called by a younger fan was a reverse designed to be a pass, but turned out to be a busted play.
Former Vol Arian Foster took charge of the DJ booth in the first half, which was on a stage set up in the northeast endzone.
Jones said that his team was nowhere near game ready and that they need to increase their tempo. He said he told his team that they “played about a half of football today”.
Tennessee has now had over one million fans attend spring games since 1961
True freshmen Corey Vereen had four sacks, all in the first half
Byron Moore and Daneil McCullers led the team in tackles with six each
The game’s biggest play came with just over three minutes remaining when Max Arnold returned an interception 62 yards for touchdown off a Tyler Page pass
Cody Blanc was the leading receiver for the Vols with 59 yards and two receptions
Alden Hill was the leading rusher with 101 yards on 18 carries
Justin Worley was the QB on 8 possessions and Nathan Peterman led the team on 9 possessions
Butch Jones: But, you can just feel their presence around this football program, and it’s great. This was the greatest weekend since I have been head football coach here. It started with a 7:45 a.m. knock at my door, and it was Arian Foster—his first time back.
Butch Jones: he 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.
Butch Jones: 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.
Rajion Neal: I’m my worst critic. Overall, I thought I had an okay day. A couple of my teammates said they felt I did pretty good, but I don’t know. I’m just out there playing, trying to have a little fun.
Alden Hill: I came out here and did some good things, but you have to go watch film. It’s not always as good or bad as it looks and I know there are some things I know I need to work on out there; conditioning and some little things like that.
Devrin Young: I think we are just not consistent. We have days where we look good, and we score well. Then, we have days like today. It’s just a new offense, and we’re just still adjusting to all of the change
Cody Blanc: I think today they said today was the second biggest crowd we’ve had for an Orange and White game. That just goes to show that everybody is curious as to what Coach Jones has to offer, what they’ve been coaching and teaching us so far for the spring. So I think everybody, fans and everybody, are all in and just want to see what we have.
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