In Tennessee's first scrimmage, coaches want playmakers to stand out

University of Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, right, watches quarterback Justin Worley pass the ball during the first spring football practice at Haslam Field on Saturday, March 9, 2013. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

University of Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, right, watches quarterback Justin Worley pass the ball during the first spring football practice at Haslam Field on Saturday, March 9, 2013. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

It’s Family Day, which means hundreds of moms, dads and siblings of current players will be in Knoxville to watch practice and partake in a barbecue lunch.

It’s also one of the biggest recruiting days of the spring for first-year coach Butch Jones, who is trying to build on a busy week of commitments for his 2014 class.

And, oh by the way, there will be some football played, too.

Tennessee will scrimmage for the first time this morning at Neyland Stadium, only two days after donning full pads for the first time.

This will be “situational” work, not a full-blown scrimmage, but for players like quarterbacks Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman who are fighting for jobs, the scrimmage offers the first big-stage event of the spring.

“I want to identify who the playmakers are, put guys in situations to make plays and see who steps up when the lights go on,” said Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian. “Those are the things you don’t get a feel for when you’re practicing in just helmets or even in a thud situation.”

“Thud” tackles don’t bring a player to the ground. Live tackling is like in a real game, although certain players (including all quarterbacks) will wear jerseys signaling them to be off-limits.

“When you go live tackle — like we did for the last segment of practice (Thursday) — now a three-yard gain becomes a 10-yard gain when they have to bring him to the ground,” Bajakian said. “It’s good to see who’s going to have the ability to make a guy miss and break tackles.”

Associate head coach and defensive line coach Steve Stripling said he would be watching for teamwork and communication among his unit today.

“If it’s third-and-12 and one person doesn’t do their job, one person is not where they’re supposed to be, it’s a first down,” Stripling said. “So we talk about accountability. As a unit, we are preaching accountability, communications and chemistry.”

The Vols “kept score” for the first time in Thursday’s full-pads practice, and the offense had a healthy lead by the end of the media’s viewing period. That could mean the offense will don the coveted orange jerseys designating the “winners” of each practice, while the defense wears white today.

But the scoreboard will be reset and the end of the afternoon could produce a new set of winners at Neyland Stadium.

“We’re going to try to out-effort and out-technique people,” said receivers coach Zach Azzanni. “That’s what we’re built on. That’s what we do.”

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 5

jamgod writes:

Don't care how its done...just beat the beegezus out of the other team!!

jack4444 writes:

All those recruits on Family Day for a coach who preaches family. Butch practices what he preaches.

Orange_Beach writes:

I ran in to Butch the other day at the Mouse ear and he said that our defense is a little soft around the edges.

VolGrad writes:

"Victor LaRoy Wharton @VWharton5
Tennessee fans better be on twitter all weekend! There will be good news.. Maybe 3 commits this weekend but who could they be? Stay tuned!"

Well, going from 1 commit to 6 in a week's time is pretty good already. But I'd love to see the Berrys and Mr. Bates commit.

GBO!

allvol8 writes:

in response to Orange_Beach:

I ran in to Butch the other day at the Mouse ear and he said that our defense is a little soft around the edges.

Was that before or after you got arrested for indecent exposure?

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