Tennessee Spring Practice Notes And Observations: April 13

Tennessee Football

Tennessee FootballTennessee QBs Nico Iamaleava (No. 12) and Joe Milton III (No. 7). Photo by Rocky Top Insider/Ric Butler.

Tennessee football was back at Haslam Practice Field Thursday morning for the Vols’ last open spring practice before Saturday’s Orange-and-White game at Neyland Stadium.

The Vols were down an abundance of players at practice either not wearing full pads or in red non contact jerseys.

Three period of Tennessee’s practice were open to the media Tuesday meaning we got to watch about the first 20 minutes which included some stretching at the start. So per usual, only so many conclusions one can draw.

Here’s our notes and observations from Tennessee’s 12th spring practice.

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Offense

There were no shortage of Tennessee players limited by injuries Thursday morning so let’s get to it.

Squirrel White, Cameron Seldon and Trey Weary were in red non contact jerseys. Ramel Keyton, Bru McCoy, Jabari Small, Jack Jancek and Ollie Lane.

It wasn’t all bad news on the injury front for Tennessee Thursday. While he didn’t participate in drills, McCoy went through warmups with his teammates for the first time all spring. Freshman tight end Ethan Davis was out of his red non contact jersey and was full go for the first time since the beginning of spring. Cooper Mays was back fully dressed out though he wasn’t a full participant in drills during the open portion of practice. Lastly, Jaylen Wright was fully dressed out and going full speed after missing Tennessee’s second spring scrimmage last week. It will be interesting to see how involved he is during the spring game.

Let’s start with the running backs where everyone besides Small was full go. Tennessee’s running backs did drills where trash cans were thrown on the ground in front of them forcing them to make a read and cut in the backfield. That group is deep and more talented than its been in a long time.

It was red zone passing work for the quarterbacks and pass catchers today. It was a crisp day for Nico Iamaleava and particularly Joe Milton III who didn’t have a pass hit the ground while I was watching. Chas Nimrod and Dont’e Thornton both had some nice over the shoulder catches on fade routes.

Receiver’s coach Kelsey Pope was providing hands on coaching for Thornton emphasizing the details on his routes.

Tennessee’s tight ends started working with the quarterbacks in red zone work before working off to the side on blocking drills.

Defense

Warren Burrell and Kwauze Garland were in red non contact jerseys as they have been for much of the spring while early enrollee defensive linemen Nathan Robinson and Daevin Hobbs were not fully dressed out and only went through stretches as has been the case all spring.

Neither De’Shawn Rucker and Brandon Turnage were fully dressed out and just only did stretches before working off to the side during drill portions.

It was par for the course for Tennessee’s defensive line drills as Rodney Garner’s group worked on playing low to the ground and Tyler Baron and Dominic Bailey led the way for all the defensive line drills.

Tennessee’s secondary was broken up into three groups with safeties and two groups of corners working in separate groups.

Defensive coordinator Tim Banks worked with the safeties who did block shedding and tackling drills before tracking deep balls on corner routes.

Willie Martinez worked with corners who worked on bump and run coverage and some tackling drills while an defensive analyst worked on zone hand off drills with other corners.

After most defensive backs worked just about everywhere last spring and fall there’s been some real consistency this spring. Christian Charles continued his work at safety while redshirt freshman Christian Harrison worked at corner.

Former Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe was at the Vols’ Thursday practice. Cutcliffe now works in an advisory role with the SEC office.

Author: Ethan Moore