Tennessee unveils new "smokey gray" uniformsCoach Butch Jones introduced changes to the University of Tennessee's football uniforms at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Thursday. Along with minor tweaks to the existing uniforms, the Vols also showcased a new "smokey gray" colored uniform in homage to the 1914 championship-winning team. Following the ceremony, several players made remarks on the upcoming season, which begins against Austin Peay on Aug. 31.
KNOXVILLE -- After the hullabaloo of Thursday's uniform unveiling and media day, Tennessee's football team returned to Haslam Field for practice around noon today.
During the periods of practice open for media viewing, the Volunteers ran a couple of 11-on-11 two-point conversions plays, worked plenty of special teams and had one session of 7-on-7 pass skeleton.
Here's a recap:
Best play: On the second two-point play, walk-on safety Max Arnold stepped in front of a pass near the goal line from Nathan Peterman and intercepted the pass. He would have returned it the length of the field.
After the play, first-year head coach Butch Jones pointed out the second-team offense's unbalanced formation.
"We must communicate those small details!" the coach instructed via his wireless microphone.
Best play, part two: On the first two-point play, the first-team offense converted with a Justin Worley pass to Brendan Downs. The junior went in motion from left to right across the formation and ran a crossing route back across the field. Worley rolled slightly to his right and threw back left, and Downs caught the pass with safety Brian Randolph a half-step behind him.
"I told you what was coming," defensive coordinator John Jancek yelled to his unit.
Worst period: Though Jones prefaced it as "the best period of the day," Tennessee's punt protection period was a bit disastrous.
The scout team blocked the first punt, and coaches deemed the second kick would have been blocked, too. After long snapper J.R. Carr delivered a ground ball to the punter, Jones called for backup snapper Matt Giampapa. His first snap deflected off one of the three players that form the punter's protection wall.
Jones called the unit for its lack of intensity and even referred to them as the "bad news bears."
Feistiest moment: During that punt protection period, freshman offensive lineman Dylan Wiesman and walk-on tailback Deanthonie Summerhill got it to a bit of a post-play skirmish after Wiesman had his helmet knocked off. Teammates stepped between the two. It's pretty typical for such tangles to happen at this point of camp.
Notable developments: Two more newcomers, receiver Johnathon Johnson and defensive end Jaylen Miller, appear to have lost the black stripes on their helmets. Johnson, a junior college transfer, is a sophomore who played at Blinn College in Texas last season. Miller is a freshman who's been mentioned by a couple of teammates and praised by coaches.
LaDarrell McNeil was the first-team safety alongside Brian Randolph. Byron Moore had received most of the first-team reps earlier this week. The two have rotated starters' reps throughout camp.
The second-team receivers were Jason Croom, Jacob Carter and Devrin Young, and Drae Bowles got some second-team work in 7-on-7 pass skeleton period. The first-team wideouts continue to be freshmen Marquez North and Josh Smith and Pig Howard.
QB comparison: Worley opened his pass skeleton work with consecutive completions on short routes to North before linebacker Brent Brewer broke up a checkdown pass intended for tailback Rajion Neal.
Jones stopped the drill at one point to give North, the talented freshman, some one-on-one coaching after pointing out the single coverage he was facing moments earlier.
"One on one, you've got to like that Marquez," Jones announced on the microphone.
Croom either dropped or caught-then-fumbled a short pass from Peterman, who then completed a pass to a crossing Carter.
Freshman Riley Ferguson came in after Peterman and hit Croom on a hitch.
Linebacker Curt Maggitt, who's done very little contact this preseason as he continues his recovery from a torn ACL suffered last season, was right there to meet the redshirt freshman. Maggitt has only done angle tackling with the linebackers, and some one-on-one blocking drill against the tight ends during Wednesday night's practice is the first real contact he's done this month.
On his second rep, Ferguson misfired on an out pattern.
Who's missing?: Freshman receivers Paul Harris (foot) and Ryan Jenkins (undisclosed) were working out on the side of practice, as was Johnson and cornerback Michael Williams (shoulder).
What's ahead: Tennessee was scheduled to practice twice on Saturday, but now the Vols will have just one practice -- the one open to the public in Neyland Stadium tomorrow night.
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 ...