Takeaways from Tennessee football's Orange & White Game

Tennessee football wrapped up spring camp on Saturday with a 21-14 win for the Orange team in the annual Orange & White Game.
Tennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava (8) during Tennessee's Orange & White spring football game
Tennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava (8) during Tennessee's Orange & White spring football game / Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA

Tennessee football wrapped up spring camp with its annual Orange & White Game on Saturday. The White team defeated the Orange team 21-14 in front of a limited capacity crowd of 10,000 fans in Neyland Stadium. 

Between the defensive line creating chaos up front and receivers settling in during the second quarter and second half, each group were standouts on each side of the ball. 

The Vols also had many injuries this Spring and had quite a few players sit out the Spring game. The position group that was hit the hardest was the offensive line. Six offensive linemen sat out of the Spring scrimmage, and it was clear the Vols were lacking in protection up front.

Tim Banks didn't waste any time taking advantage of the banged-up offensive line. The defensive line totaled four sacks on the day while showing off their tough, physical run defense, holding the offense to only 68 rushing yards. 

The veteran D-line is led by Omari Thomas, Omarr Norman-Lott, and James Pearce Jr, and their experience showed in the Spring Showcase. The entire front seven won a lot of matchups throughout the day. 

It took a while for the quarterbacks and receivers to start connecting on some deep passes, but after a while, the receivers started getting the best of the Vol's revamped secondary. If the defensive line can bring that same pressure every game this fall, Tennessee can probably get away with some sub-par play in the secondary. 

Josh Heupel will likely be in the transfer portal during the spring window, looking to round out the secondary and improve the defense's back end. Even if the Vols don't add a starter to the secondary, getting another depth piece could be the difference for the Vols this fall. 

Boo Carter could be the answer for Tennessee at some point. The true freshman showed some potential throughout the spring game, making a few tackles. We also saw a sneak peek at Carter as a returner, which could also be lightning in a bottle for Tennessee's special teams. 

The offense was able to get into the endzone five times, although it took until the second quarter to finally break the ice. The first touchdown of the scrimmage came with 11:05 remaining in the second quarter on a Dayton Sneed receiving touchdown from Gaston Moore

Jake Merklinger responded on the following drive by moving down the field using his legs. Two big runs, including one 26-yard touchdown run, put the Orange team on the board to tie the game with five minutes to go in the first half. 

Nico Iamaleava decided to get involved after that, scoring on a 27-yard touchdown pass with just over three minutes remaining in the first half. Virtually every quarterback on Tennessee's depth chart was getting involved and scoring when given the opportunity. 

Nico had a solid day as he was playing on a limited snap count. The redshirt freshman and heir to the Tennessee offense went 6-for-6 for 91 yards and a touchdown in his debut as the full-time starting quarterback for the Vols. 

Tennessee fans also finally got to see two new names in orange and white score touchdowns. Mike Matthews scored on a 62-yard pass from Moore with seconds remaining in the first half. Tulane transfer Chris Brazzell II also got in on the action, scoring on a 71-yard touchdown pass in the second half. 

The Vols also have some work to do at the running back position. They lost Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small at the end of last season to the NFL Draft and are clearly struggling to replace their production.

Tennessee's top two backs Dylan Sampson and Cam Seldon didn't participate in the spring game, which could be one reason why the running backs struggled throughout the game. 

Tennessee freshman receiving high praise in spring practice. dark. Next. Tennessee freshman receiving high praise in spring practice

While there wasn't much that stood out besides a few impressive individual performances, this year's spring scrimmage result can include an asterisk next to the final score. Tennessee's injuries this spring prevented the Vols from being at full strength or anywhere close to full strength, so we will have to wait until the fall to see the Vols at 100%.