Butch Jones has given a beleaguered Tennessee fan base reason to believe again.
There’s a renewed energy surrounding the program. Recruiting is going like gangbusters, and the Vols have been crisp, disciplined and opportunistic in their first two games of the Jones era, including a 52-20 clubbing of Bobby Petrino and Western Kentucky last weekend.
After four losing seasons in the last five years, there are telltale signs that Tennessee may finally be wresting itself from football exile.
But this weekend may be more about survival for the Vols and simply coming out in one piece.
From The Tennessean
At Oregon, speed is not just a gimmick. It’s a way of life.
Coach Mark Helfrich said the second-ranked Ducks are conditioned to go at a breakneck pace from their very first day in the program.
“In a practice situation, it happens with our young guys, especially our young skill guys, who are learning how to play without the ball or finishing the play downfield. In high school, they’re adjusting their helmet, adjusting their facemask or their gloves,” he said. “But they need to run back to the line of scrimmage and get set. We teach that just like blocking or tackling. It’s a fundamental.”
Tennessee has known since the spring that finding receivers would be a challenge for this season after the departure of the top four pass catchers from 2012 – receivers Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson, Zach Rogers and tight end Mychal Rivera.
It’s not getting easier. With just two full days remaining before the Vols travel to face No. 2 Oregon, the Vols had three first-year receivers running with the starters at Wednesday’s practice – Josh Smith, Marquez North and Johnathon Johnson.
Starter Pig Howard was held out of practice Wednesday with an unspecified injury.
The Vols’ new much-anticipated Smokey Gray jerseys went on sale to the public Thursday morning.
Workers at Alumni Hall made a special trip all the way to Indianapolis to pick up the new gray jerseys and worked late unloading them Wednesday night to make sure the shelves were stocked in time.
The Smokey Gray jersey has been the most anticipated item at Alumni Hall in years since Coach Butch Jones and the Vols unveiled them last month.