The Tennessee Volunteers were inside Neyland Stadium Saturday night for a practice that was open to the public. The Vols’ open practice is becoming an annual event, and it is estimated over 40,000 fans showed up to watch the Vols run through drills and a few situational scrimmages.
Butch Jones and his team came out fired up, and they kept up the intensity for the whole hour and a half practice.
The team ran through individual drills, special teams drills, and they ran several situational scrimmages where the team would either have three downs to get a first down, or Butch Jones would make them start off on 3rd down and have to get a first down on one play.
Devrin Young was among the handful of players wearing a green, non-contact jersey for tonight’s practice. Curt Maggitt did not participate once again, and defensive lineman Trevarris Saulsberry left midway through the practice with an apparent leg injury. The severity of his injury won’t be known for a day or two.
Here are some notes from tonight’s open practice at Neyland Stadium:
- Since being named the starting quarterback, Justin Worley has practiced with more confidence the last couple days, and tonight was no exception. His throws looked crisper, and he looked more in command as the leader of the offense.
- The receiving corps proved once again tonight why they’re the perceived strength of the team. Marquez North, Josh Smith, and Jason Croom all made sensational catches during practice, and the unit as a whole looked fairly consistent throughout.
- Emmanuel Mosely is continuing to impress as a true freshman cornerback. He forced and recovered a fumble during a one-on-one drill, intercepted another pass, and just played with outstanding tenacity during the whole practice.
- Both George Bullock and Aaron Medley looked good as kickers tonight, as both hit some impressive field goals. Medley was the only one able to hit a 50-yard field goal, though.
- There wasn’t a whole lot of noticeable change on the depth chart for the defense or offense tonight, but Pig Howard did take reps with the 1st-team offense, and Jalen Hurd saw time as the 1st-team running back as well.
- Devrin Young and Jacob Carter both looked impressive in the punt return drills, as both displayed some good hands during a specific drill where they had to hold on to each ball after they caught it. Both guys caught 5 punts in a row without dropping a single ball.
The defense as a whole looked much more aggressive and played much more fundamentally sound coverage. There were still some busts (one led to a wide open Marquez North touchdown), but the blown coverages were far less than we’ve seen so far in practices, and the increased speed of the defense made it easier to recover if there were any mistakes.
After having a quiet fall camp for the first two weeks, Josh Malone has stepped up the past few days and has started to flash some of his potential. Malone took a screen to the house, showing off his speed and shifty feet during the play.
At Thursday’s media day, Butch Jones stated George Bullock was leading Aaron Medley in the kicking game. It appeared that way tonight as well, as Bullock was the first up to kick in every kicking drill. Medley, however, still looked more impressive, and he booted a 50-yard field goal that would’ve been good from about 60 yards out.
Overall, the open practice generated a lot of positive vibes for the team, and Butch Jones was less harsh on his team than usual. There were still some mistakes on both sides of the ball, but the team has definitely shown improvement since the opening week of fall camp. Routes look cleaner, coverage looks tighter, and the defensive line is getting more push.
The Vols will practice again Sunday at 3:45. Check back here for more notes afterwards.
Tennessee announced that Sunday’s practice has been canceled.