published Monday, August 12th, 2013

Vols football team at 'the hard part' of practices

  • photo
    Butch Jones, Tennessee's head football coach, speaks during a news conference in this file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Extra points

•Cornerback Riyahd Jones did not practice and left the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex on crutches, and since Butch Jones didn't meet with reporters after practice, there was no official update on the injury.

•In a pair of position changes, receiver Vincent Dallas worked at cornerback, where he's played before during his career, and Reeves-Maybin, who had been at safety, worked with the linebackers. The assistant coaches who spoke after practice said they hope to see more from those players in tonight's practice.

•Defensive tackle Mo Couch (calf), receiver Paul Harris (foot) and cornerback Michael Williams (undisclosed) did not practice. Tailback Marlin Lane wore a green non-contact jersey and appeared to show a slight limp. He wore a brace on his right knee.

•Fourth-year junior Marques Pair, who coaches have praised early in camp, worked some with the first-team offense at left tackle.

KNOXVILLE -- An unhappy Butch Jones ditched his patented wireless microphone, but you still could have heard the Tennessee football coach's voice booming if you were anywhere around Haslam Field on Monday morning.

The Volunteers returned to the field for the first of two practices, and Jones was particularly frustrated by some mistakes during a punt protection drill against the scout team's punt-block unit.

"This is the tough time of camp," tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Mark Elder said after practice. "You're in the dead middle of camp. Everybody's all fired up at the beginning because it's the first couple of day, you've got fresh legs, you're excited, it's football season again. At the end of things, you kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel. You see, 'Hey, a game's on the forefront, we're about to play.' Those are the easier parts of camp.

"This is the hard part of camp. This is where guys can have a lull. I know this: Coach Jones wants the best out of the team on a day-in and day-out basis, so he's not going to allow the team to get to that lull. He's not going to allow us to have a bad day, a bad practice, a bad period. If he doesn't see what he wants to see out of the team, out of a drill, out of a side of the ball, out of the special teams -- he's going to make sure it gets done right."

The specifics aside, the wrath of the coach was aimed at defensive linemen Danny O'Brien and Trevarris Saulsberry and safety Brian Randolph, but Jones also called out Ja'Wuan James and Antonio "Tiny" Richardson's name on the microphone during practice.

"That is absolutely the way it should be done, and that's absolutely how we're going to win around here, is by taking advantage of every opportunity that we can," Elder said. "When you see him getting fired up, it's because he wants us to have the best day possible. It's because he wants us to be the best team that we can possibly be."

The practice began, oddly enough, with Tennessee's non-linemen doing the three-man weave down the field. Though the Vols looked like a basketball team, Jones made it a teaching point for the players. He even joked the media in attendance would try it next.

The entire practice was open, including some late-game situational 11-on-11 work and some 7-on-7 pass skeleton drills. In one situation, the offense had possession at the 40-yard line with 10 seconds on the clock and one timeout remaining. Jones didn't like when freshman receiver Josh Smith failed to get out of bounds after a reception and got on quarterback Nathan Peterman when he started scrambling as the clock wound down, and linebacker Kenny Bynum intercepted a pass that freshman cornerback Malik Foreman broke up and deflected into the air.

Kickers Michael Palardy and George Bullock each made 52-yard field goals during that period.

In pass skeleton, Worley scrambled and threw a touchdown to Pig Howard, who made a nice catch with JaRon Toney well-placed in coverage. Peterman threw a nice seam pass to freshman receiver Ryan Jenkins for a touchdown. Freshman quarterback Josh Dobbs threw a dart to Jenkins along the back line of the end zone after scrambling to his right.

Freshman quarterback Riley Ferguson briefly got some first-team reps when Jones didn't like how Worley commanded the offense. In the drill, the defensive line intentionally jumped offsides, and when that happens, Tennessee's offensive lineman don't flinch, with the goal of leaving no doubt in officials' minds. They can only come out of their statued stance when the quarterback hollers "Chill!"

During one special teams drill, Jones reminded tailback Alden Hill that former Alabama tailback once played special teams. After judging that freshman Jalen Reeves-Maybin took a poor rep, Jones barked, "That rep had a life of its own!" He told receiver Jason Croom he couldn't wait to show film of a poor kickoff return drill rep to his mother, Karen.

UPDATE FROM EVENING PRACTICE

The Vols practiced in Neyland Stadium for the first time this preseason on Monday night. Jones appeared to be in a better mood, and he reminded his team they were working in "Our house" early during the session. Tennessee again worked through some special teams and team periods during the portion of practice open for media viewing.

In 11-on-11 work, tailback Rajion Neal had a first-down run, and quarterback Justin Worley threw a dart to Pig Howard on rollout. The most notable play of the night for the first-team, though, was a near miss. Worley's pass to Marquez North on a deep post just slipped through the freshman receiver's hands near the goal line.

After Nathan Peterman took a couple of snaps with the second-team offense, freshman Riley Ferguson took some reps and threw two nice passes to Devrin Young, who did will to haul in the receptions under tight coverage, on rollout plays.

The Vols also had a period of receiver-defensive back one-on-ones and an 8-on-8 session with tailbacks, tight ends, offensive and defensive linemen and linebackers.

During the passing game work, freshman cornerback Cam Sutton nicely broke up two passes: a deep go route against North and an inside slant against Jacob Carter. Jason Croom then ran past Sutton on a deep post, but Worley overthrew the pass.

Freshman walk-on nickelback Devaun Swaufford broke up a seam pass intended for Johnathon Johnson. North beat Coleman deep, and the junior corner had to hold the freshman twice to keep him from catching the ball. Drae Bowles made a nice grab on a slant despite tight coverage from freshman corner Malik Foreman.

Howard also did well in using his quickness to get open on a couple of reps.

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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