Safety Brian Randolph talks after UT scrimmage.
Butch Jones on the Vols' seventh practice of fall camp
A favorite topic of conversation after Tennessee’s scrimmage Saturday night was a 14-play, all-run, length-of-the-field drive.
For the sake of context, it was the second-team offense against the second-team defense.
But one wonders, how well could the Vols’ number-one offense execute a similar challenge on game day in the coming months?
Opponents, after all, should be tempted to stack the line of scrimmage against the run until the Vols prove that an inexperienced passing game can make plays. Virtually everyone involved in UT’s prolific 2012 passing attack is playing NFL preseason games at the moment.
If opponents want to stack the box, the Vols’ response is: Bring it on.
“If they do,’’ senior tailback Rajion Neal said Saturday night, “I can truly say, we’ve got a surprise for them, because those receivers, they are not backing down.
“Those guys are getting better every day. As much as they get yelled at, and a lot of criticism that they take, they’re coming with it every day and it’s kind of fun to see.’’
So, just to be clear ...
“Oh, yeah,’’ Neal said. “I’m actually kind of hoping that they go ahead and stack the box.
“That’s gonna be something that’s gonna benefit the receivers. Those are one-on-one coverages. If you keep trying to take one away, pick your poison. We’ll tear you up through the air.’’
Nathan Peterman, who’s pushing Justin Worley to be the opening-day quarterback, shares Neal’s optimism. Never mind that the redshirt freshman has never thrown a pass in a college game.
“I feel confident in the whole offense,’’ he said after the scrimmage. “I don’t think our receivers are that down.’’
They’re young, though. Sophomore Pig Howard’s 13 catches are the most of any returning receiver. Redshirt freshmen and true freshmen will flesh out the rotation.
“I’m actually excited about the potential of where our receivers can go,’’ Peterman said. “So all this talk about the receivers aren’t gonna be that good, I’m excited the way they’re working.’’
“Everybody’s talking about Marquez (North) but Pig is doing a great job. Vince Dallas, even some of the guys behind them are doing a great job.’’
So, just to be clear ...
“Let ‘em stack the box is what I’m saying,’’ Peterman said, “and I think we’ll do a good job with it.’’
Neal’s Run: In addition to the 98-yard drive that required 14 plays, there was another 98-yard drive that required one play Saturday night.
Neal broke the line of scrimmage at his own 2 and went the distance. He said the crucial block came from tackle Tiny Richardson and a tight end.
“Tiny pushed him out. and I just hit it,’’ Neal said. “The safety had a crazy angle, I almost didn’t think I was going to make it. But all I said is ‘I can not be caught.’ ”
Off Day: The Vols did not practice Sunday but return to work Monday.