Highlights from the Vols' practice - Friday, Aug. 9, 2013
With eight preseason days down and 22 to go, Tennessee players will walk into an empty Neyland Stadium on Saturday night. The Vols will cap their first two-a-day practice of the summer with an evening scrimmage.
Looking to rev his team up for Saturday, UT coach Butch Jones instead found his team a quart low to begin Friday’s practice.
Climbing heat didn’t help. Nor did heavy humidity.
That’s when the yelling began.
“We can run all day! Soft!” Jones screamed at his defensive line, moments after they allowed a goal-line touchdown.
Then Jones got in senior Daniel Hood’s face. Then redshirt freshman linebacker Kenny Bynum got a taste. No one was immune.
“Obviously, they’ve been through a long camp and now they’re kind of going through the dog days of training camp,” Jones said later. “Now is when your mental focus, your mental consistency, has to kick in.”
Saturday morning’s practice will run about 1 hour, 15 minutes, and consist of a special teams scrimmage and clock management situations. Full pads will be worn.
The evening’s scrimmage at Neyland will offer situational scenarios such as one-minute drills, overtime play and the four-minute offense. The biggest benefit of the scrimmage, in Jones’ opinion, will be seeing his team play without the benefit of on-field coaching.
“We’re going to find out the maturity of our football team tomorrow,” Jones said.
With multiple position battles still unfolding, Saturday will help in defining roles.
Right tackle Ja’Wuan James said the biggest takeaway will be “seeing who our guys are that we can count on.”
“We’re gonna see who the real men are out there,” added junior Justin Coleman, a projected starter at cornerback. “We’ve got a lot of competition out there.”
Hood pointed to Tennessee’s staggered preseason, a result of summer classes, as a reason to take advantage of Saturday.
“Other teams have already had two-a-days,” Hood said. “So we have to go out there and win the day.”
First-team quarterback Justin Worley had a scheduled non-throwing day, going through the motions but resting his arm. Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman took reps with the first team, while freshmen Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson worked with second and third teams.
Former Tennessee linebacker Al Wilson, the Vols’ only All-America selection from the 1998 undefeated national championship team, stopped by camp Friday. He met with the team and delivered a pre-practice speech.
Running back Tom Smith, linebacker Curt Maggitt, tight end Justin King and strong safety Byron Moore all wore green non-contact jerseys. Receiver Paul Harris and tight end Alex Ellis worked on the sidelines.
Media heard a new addition to the motivational stylings of Jones. Following 11-on-11 action, the coach uncorked this one: “Taking someone’s soul —that’s how you play football!”
Junior walk-on fullback Austin Bolen has left the team and is no longer included on the roster. The Farragut High School product was a three-year walk-on, never appearing in a game.
Two walk-ons — quarterback Tyler Page and defensive back Tyler Coombes — have been added. Both participated in the spring and had planned to join the team when rosters expand in two weeks. The plan was apparently bumped up.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee football and men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com. Football beat writer Evan Woodbery contributed.