Pig Howard takes stab at figuring out who will start at receiver for UT

(Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel)
University of Tennessee wide receiver Pig Howard makes a catch during preseason training camp drills at Haslam Field on Aug. 3.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

(Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel) University of Tennessee wide receiver Pig Howard makes a catch during preseason training camp drills at Haslam Field on Aug. 3.

UT practice from Thursday night

The coaches might not be saying it, but the players are starting to feel it.

Questions continue to buzz around the Tennessee football depth chart with the first game of the season one week away. Just because nothing has been formally announced regarding the depth chart, though, doesn’t mean opinions haven’t been formed.

At wide receiver, a slew of veterans and newcomers are jockeying for prime reps. Everyone from returnees Pig Howard, Devrin Young, Cody Blanc and Vincent Dallas to redshirt freshman Jason Croom to freshmen Marquez North and Paul Harris are shuffled around daily.

Howard took a stab at the depth chart following Thursday’s practice.

“I would say, right now, Coach kind of flips us in and out with the ones and twos, but so far, I know Marquez is the permanent X right now and I am the W,” said Howard, a sophomore who caught 13 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown last season.

“At the end of the day, it’s not a final decision, but from my point of view, I know Marquez is at X and I’m at W,” Howard said.

As of late, coaches have mentioned Young as slowly firming up a spot with the first team.

“He’s at the A and at times if I move wide, Devrin will come in at W,” Howard said.

Despite Howard’s view, what’s seen on the field varies wildly from time to time.

During one four-wide offensive set Thursday, Croom and Howard were joined on the first team by wideouts Jacob Carter, a redshirt junior, and Josh Smith, a freshman.

When the second team emerged, Young, Blanc and North took the field, while tight end Brendan Downs was the fourth receiver.

Punter problems:Thursday was another erratic day for the punters, especially Matt Darr.

With coach Butch Jones watching steps away, Darr shanked one punt off the side of his foot and sent a humpback line drive over the heads of sideline spectators. The ball one-hopped over the Haslam Field fence and onto Pat Head Summitt Street — a first this preseason.

Magnifying Darr’s struggles was a new face in Trevor Daniel from Dickson County High School. The walk-on freshman was with the team in the spring, but not the preseason. On Thursday, he returned and struck punts consistently.

The Vols are still looking for a safe backup option to senior Michael Palardy.

Lane (somewhat) closed:Running back Marlin Lane wore a green non-contact jersey again, but participated in more on-field drills than he had early in the week.

Wiesman returns:Offensive lineman Dylan Wiesman returned to full action after limping noticeably in Monday’s practice. The freshman has emerged as a viable backup behind UT’s deep group of linemen.

“He’s right back in the swing of things,” said senior center James Stone. “He brings the mentality you want from an offensive lineman. He’s physical. He’s locked-in. He’s a smart kid who wants to get better.”

On the sidelines:Defensive end Jacques Smith, tight end Joseph Ayres, receiver Ryan Jenkins and linebacker Christian Harris spent practice working out on the sidelines.

AP!:Any concern the Vols could look past Austin Peay and Western Kentucky before a Week 3 meeting against Oregon needn’t stretch to the coaching staff. During stretching drills, players typically respond to each whistle with “Win!” in unison.

Jones switched it up Thursday. At his request, players instead yelled, “AP!” on the whistle. “We’re only worried about Austin Peay,” Jones preached.

Seven make All-SEC teams:Early Thursday, UT linebacker A.J. Johnson and offensive lineman Antonio “Tiny” Richardson were named to the All-SEC preseason first team by the league’s coaches. Offensive linemen Ja’Wuan James and Zach Fulton and defensive lineman Daniel McCullers landed on the second team, while Palardy and Stone were named to the third team.

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Comments » 20

BTKidd writes:

I respect and admire all the footvols. There is a recurring theme for this year, however. The reason soo many starting jobs are still up for grabs is because of the dearth of true difference makers. This is going to be a tough year.

rustyfourqbtn writes:

FTR, since quality journalism wasn't executed here, I'll clear this up. When the first team was on the field and North wasn't with them it's because he was busy working with the field goal block team. North and Juco TE Woody Quinn will be the two main jumpers on field goal block. North was back with the ones as soon as his responsibilities with field goal block was over.

orangeday writes:

in response to BTKidd:

I respect and admire all the footvols. There is a recurring theme for this year, however. The reason soo many starting jobs are still up for grabs is because of the dearth of true difference makers. This is going to be a tough year.

I agree that no proven difference makers are apparent: if various reports from ktown are accurate then that issue will be forgotten. Most coaches try to keep the competition going all year long to keep starters and backups ready and improving. It is also used to keep the opposing coaches guessing and makes them prepare for all players and skeams (sp). I do think that any games can be a lost or WON. That is why they are played!

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to BTKidd:

I respect and admire all the footvols. There is a recurring theme for this year, however. The reason soo many starting jobs are still up for grabs is because of the dearth of true difference makers. This is going to be a tough year.

See if you can tell whether I agree with you.

The reason so many starting jobs are still up for grabs (we're talking about the offense, and in particular, WR) is that the top four receivers from last season are gone. Of the other returning WRs, only a couple have ever played a down in a college game.

Dallas and Carter were the #2 and #3 WRs last season, based on yards/catch. Things is, they only combined for a total of 17 catches, but a combined average of 16 ypc. Young and Howard combined for 18 catches, but their ypc was horrible, mostly because they were just outlet guys out of the backfield and screens that didn't go anywhere.

The WR corps is mostly unproven on gameday, so the competition will still be ongoing well into the season, I suspect.

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

I used to know some of this stuff, but can anyone tell me

What is an X receiver, and what is a W (the slot?).. surely Pig is not playing the slot, that's the big tough guy position and he's a shrimp from Orlando

Then is the Z, the one reciever opposite the Slot player and on the side of the tight end.. doesn't a Z have to line up in the backfield to prevent "covering" the tight end to that side.

Anybody?

Rock_E_Topp88 writes:

in response to BTKidd:

I respect and admire all the footvols. There is a recurring theme for this year, however. The reason soo many starting jobs are still up for grabs is because of the dearth of true difference makers. This is going to be a tough year.

Toddy....your troll training from your mentor is coming along nicely. I see you using words that have shown up in your mentor's sputum....like "dearth" and "lockstep". Try to work in words like "Dooleave", "Doolander" and "Bama Dave" when you can. Your troll daddy will be so proud of you, rabbitear boy.

GreerVol22 writes:

Palardy on all sec team at any level is a laugher. As I look back, I remember how many games the Colquitts kept us in with quality punting. Why do we always struggle with the kicking game? I mean we play these teams like WKU, Troy, Montana etc and their kicking game is flawless in comparison. I don't get it.

BTKidd writes:

in response to Rock_E_Topp88:

Toddy....your troll training from your mentor is coming along nicely. I see you using words that have shown up in your mentor's sputum....like "dearth" and "lockstep". Try to work in words like "Dooleave", "Doolander" and "Bama Dave" when you can. Your troll daddy will be so proud of you, rabbitear boy.

I took an oath to not mention the former worst coach in the history of UT football by name. Being the honorable person i am, i have kept that oath. "Bama Dave" is an Alabama Alum and plant to destroy UT so he will continue to be named as such.

As it turns out, not mentioning the former worst coach in UT history has been a blessing for me. He didn't deserve to be mentioned in one of my illustrious posts.

DC82_Vol writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

Palardy on all sec team at any level is a laugher. As I look back, I remember how many games the Colquitts kept us in with quality punting. Why do we always struggle with the kicking game? I mean we play these teams like WKU, Troy, Montana etc and their kicking game is flawless in comparison. I don't get it.

Sad thing is Darr and Palardy were the number 1 rated kicker and punter in the nation. Looks like stars can lie, or they were not coached up.

vol98champ writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

Palardy on all sec team at any level is a laugher. As I look back, I remember how many games the Colquitts kept us in with quality punting. Why do we always struggle with the kicking game? I mean we play these teams like WKU, Troy, Montana etc and their kicking game is flawless in comparison. I don't get it.

I think if Palardy can stay healthy he will solve our kicking game struggles. Darr is the mystery. He was highly rated, but I bet we have soccer girls who can out kick him.

BTKidd writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

See if you can tell whether I agree with you.

The reason so many starting jobs are still up for grabs (we're talking about the offense, and in particular, WR) is that the top four receivers from last season are gone. Of the other returning WRs, only a couple have ever played a down in a college game.

Dallas and Carter were the #2 and #3 WRs last season, based on yards/catch. Things is, they only combined for a total of 17 catches, but a combined average of 16 ypc. Young and Howard combined for 18 catches, but their ypc was horrible, mostly because they were just outlet guys out of the backfield and screens that didn't go anywhere.

The WR corps is mostly unproven on gameday, so the competition will still be ongoing well into the season, I suspect.

When i speak of difference makers i think of players that can take a hand off or pass, make a move and go 50 yards for a td. This team doesn't have that. If they did, they would already be penciled in as the starter. We don't have that on defense either. We have no db who can shut down half the field. If we did, surely they would have already been penciled in as the starter. We no longer have a qb who can throw a 50 yard pass on a rope and it be a td if a db makes a mistake. If we did, surely a starter would have been named by now. I'm simply stating the talent is simply not there. It will be a tough slog this year.

Voltman writes:

in response to Henley-Street-Bridge:

I used to know some of this stuff, but can anyone tell me

What is an X receiver, and what is a W (the slot?).. surely Pig is not playing the slot, that's the big tough guy position and he's a shrimp from Orlando

Then is the Z, the one reciever opposite the Slot player and on the side of the tight end.. doesn't a Z have to line up in the backfield to prevent "covering" the tight end to that side.

Anybody?

I can tell you the slot is typically for shorter guys

SouthPaVol writes:

Past Vols teams that have had stellar Olines like we have this year put up awesome numbers. Would like to see a back average 7-8 yds a carry, and it's not unheard of.

I think it was a Nebraska team back in their glory years that had 3 backs that averaged better than 6 yds/carry.

I realize we will not gain those numbers against this year's schedule--brutal as it is. We can, however, rely on our running game to pick up a third and three. The past few years, 3rd and 3 was a passing down.

This year I predict we are gonna have options on 3rd and 3. Might face less nickel back defenses this year. go Vols!

Shake_Bake writes:

As everyone likes to say these days "it is what it is". The solution is to go out on the field, give 100% for Tennessee and play your heart out! Win or lose...play 60 minutes of football. No matter what happens, come back the next game and play hard again. It is a tough schedule, and it will be a challenging year! I still say we can win six, get to bowl, and most of all stay focused on the recruiting class!

rustyfourqbtn writes:

BT, you are as inaccurate as the article. North has been a starter since the 2nd day of fall camp. Coach hasn't been very vocal about who his starters are because he doesn't want to discourage other players from competing at their highest level. For people who see practice every daily I can promise you, North is a starter and pig is as well. Who starts at the z(opposite outside WR of the x, x is the split end who lines up on line if scrimmage, z is off the ball)is the question. The z will likely be Croom and usually the z is a possession WR, which fits Croom skills set.

Henley, the w position is the slot WR who is usually a guy who gets moved in motion a lot. It's the guy they try to get matched up on against a LB or Safety. Wes Welker and Victor Cruz are the premiere w WR's in the NFL. Pig and Devrin will be the typical body types Coach will recruit for the w.

BT, Coleman and Sutton have been named the starting corners for over 2 weeks and Foreman is the 3rd. Toney is the starting nickel corner and Swafford is his backup.

The last thing I will tell you is that you won't see Croom just out wide at z. He will play some at TE.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to SouthPaVol:

Past Vols teams that have had stellar Olines like we have this year put up awesome numbers. Would like to see a back average 7-8 yds a carry, and it's not unheard of.

I think it was a Nebraska team back in their glory years that had 3 backs that averaged better than 6 yds/carry.

I realize we will not gain those numbers against this year's schedule--brutal as it is. We can, however, rely on our running game to pick up a third and three. The past few years, 3rd and 3 was a passing down.

This year I predict we are gonna have options on 3rd and 3. Might face less nickel back defenses this year. go Vols!

Great post South..The way defenses are now 7 yards per carry would be quite the miracle. Iam curious who holds the NCAA record for average yards per carry..My guess would be Barry Sanders who averaged an unheard of 238 yards per game in 1988. I have a very cool book about the history of college football with pictures that dates back to the 1881 Yale team with Walter Camp.. It has a very cool picture of Red Grange in the 1924 game vs Michigan..The caption read that Grange ran for 265 yards on only 6 carries in the first quarter which is 44 YPC. Grange finished the game with 402 yards and 6 TD's..Totally different football era in 1924 but not hard to see why he was a legend. Totally agree about the 3rd down. With Chaney as the OC; 3rd and 3 meant a slant call.True Championship teams can pick up 3 yards running on 3rd down

antonio14313 writes:

in response to rustyfourqbtn:

FTR, since quality journalism wasn't executed here, I'll clear this up. When the first team was on the field and North wasn't with them it's because he was busy working with the field goal block team. North and Juco TE Woody Quinn will be the two main jumpers on field goal block. North was back with the ones as soon as his responsibilities with field goal block was over.

interesting! thanks for the heads up.

go vols!

t

CoverOrange writes:

in response to Henley-Street-Bridge:

I used to know some of this stuff, but can anyone tell me

What is an X receiver, and what is a W (the slot?).. surely Pig is not playing the slot, that's the big tough guy position and he's a shrimp from Orlando

Then is the Z, the one reciever opposite the Slot player and on the side of the tight end.. doesn't a Z have to line up in the backfield to prevent "covering" the tight end to that side.

Anybody?

I had always been familiar with XYZ, but A and W are new to me. X being the split end, Y the tight end and Z the slot. So North at X, got that. But Howard said sometimes he goes out wide which only the TE would do to become a WR or the Y position. So is A = Y and W = Z? Or is this XYZ + A and W in a five receiver set? I need a root beer now.

VolFan_InFlorida writes:

in response to Henley-Street-Bridge:

I used to know some of this stuff, but can anyone tell me

What is an X receiver, and what is a W (the slot?).. surely Pig is not playing the slot, that's the big tough guy position and he's a shrimp from Orlando

Then is the Z, the one reciever opposite the Slot player and on the side of the tight end.. doesn't a Z have to line up in the backfield to prevent "covering" the tight end to that side.

Anybody?

X is split end (opposite the TE), on the line of scrimmage.
Z is the flanker, same side as TE, off line of scrimmage.
W is slot.
Slot receivers are typically smaller, quicker receivers, so i don't know where the comment about Pig's size came from. He's a typical build for slot guy (see Wes Welker)

Harrit writes:

Its football time at Wide Receiver U!
Starters: Croom, North, Howard
2nd team: Johnson, Harris, Young
3rd team: Blanc, Carter, Smith
GBO!!!

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