UT's Football Family Enjoys Spring Scrimmage At Neyland

Jones: Vols Got Plenty Of "Valuable Reps" In Wet Conditions

Saturday, March 29, 2014
Family portrait: Tennessee football players and family members pose after Saturday's scrimmage at Neyland Stadium.
Family portrait: Tennessee football players and family members pose after Saturday's scrimmage at Neyland Stadium.
- photo by Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The second scrimmage of the Tennessee spring season had everything Butch Jones could have asked for in simulating game-type conditions.

The surroundings of Neyland Stadium, a crowd in the stands and an occasional rain shower that gave the Vols an opportunity to run through situations in a variety of weather conditions.

A crowd of more than 300 gathered for “Family Day” and saw a scrimmage in Neyland that began in dry conditions that quickly turned wet.

It was a made-to-order situation for Jones.

"This is part of the growth and maturation of our football team and the ability to play in the elements," Jones said after the session that lasted a little under two hours. "We try to simulate throwing wet footballs by dunking them in a bucket, but you can never really simulate playing in the rain. I thought these were valuable reps in terms of taking handoffs and how you take care of the football; a tremendous teaching day."

It was particularly important for the four-way quarterback battle that continues to unfold on the practice field.

"It was a productive day. It was good to get out in the rain and work on ball security, throw in the rain and catch in the rain," said sophomore Joshua Dobbs, one of the four competing for the job. "It was a good day as a team and for me. It was a good day to grow, and it is always a good day to come out and play ball."

Senior Justin Worley also relished the experience of working in the elements, particularly with the newcomers on the offensive line.

"It's rough to play in the rain as a quarterback, but you have to push through it," Worley said. "Towards the end, center-to-quarterback exchanges weren't as crisp as we would have wanted them to be. It just comes with repetition. We had a couple of new guys in there. Ray Raulerson and Dylan Wiesman were in there, but we aren't comfortable with all three guys yet, but that just comes with reps."

Beyond the elements, the scrimmage focused on situational work for in-game moments. A missed check-down in an overtime situation provided Jones with another teaching moment, on ball security in a specific overtime scenario.

"Every play is a teaching opportunity with this young football team," Jones said. "A lot of times when you're correcting one individual, you're correcting the entire football team, that's what teachers do. It was a great teaching opportunity at that moment of time for our quarterback position."

QUARTERBACK CHALLENGE CONTINUES

"We need an individual who can take care of the football and understand situational football," Jones said.

With the starting quarterback position still open, Dobbs, Ferguson, Nate Peterman and Worley are continuing to accept the challenge that Jones has given them.

Saturday's scrimmage in Neyland Stadium marked the eighth spring practice and each quarterback is recognizing the improvements they are making not only individually but also as a whole.

"Today, we were more crisp," Dobbs said. "With it being the second scrimmage, we were more used to coming out and playing. It was great to play in front of our families today who came from all around the country. It was another great day for us."

The competition this spring has strengthened the quarterbacks' bond. While vying for the No. 1 spot, they are also coaching each other as well, on and off the field.

"I think we have each challenged each other," said Worley. "We have all taken strides, and we are progressing and getting better each practice."

Each individual is progressing and Jones isn't the only one taking notice.

"I'm really happy with Joshua," said Peterman. "He is really starting to pick it up and I'm impressed with the play-making ability that he has."

"I've really been pleased so far with the play of all four quarterbacks," said Jones. "I'm very encouraged. I think we have a great competitive battle going there and it's an illustration- when you have competition at positions, every individual, if they're a great competitor, they improve. All four of these individuals are improving each and every day."

BULLOCK IMPRESSES UNDER PRESSURE

While the battle at quarterback has dominated spring drills, Jones is looking for someone to step forward kicking the football for the Vols. With the graduated Michael Palardy watching from the stands, Jones liked what he saw from sophomore George Bullock in a few pressure-packed situations.

"It was great to see George come out and play winning football," Jones said. "The mark of any good kicker is consistency in performance. He made some long field goals in some pressure type situations today. He got great height on the football so it was great to see that."

SOUND BITES

HEAD COACH BUTCH JONES

»(On the defense handling the tempo)

"I thought we improved procedurally in terms of lining up fast. We are playing more like we want to on both sides of the football, but this is a line of scrimmage league, and you have to be able to stop the run. Overall, I wasn't pleased with our defensive front. We held some players out, and that was a great opportunity for some of our younger players to be able to develop. You learn through repetitions. Today was a great teaching opportunity. We will come back on Monday and correct for improvements through video study."

»(On quarterbacks showing maturity)

"Trust is earned over time, and they know I am going to always have their back. Every play is a teaching opportunity with this young football team. A lot of times when you are correcting one individual, you are correcting the entire football team. That is what teachers do. It was a great teaching opportunity."

»(On the running backs)

"I think that position group is really starting to come on. Marlin has been a warrior for us. He is playing with a cast. To have him back for game-speed reps was big for us today. Jalen Hurd continues to develop, and he needs as many reps as he can. Today was extremely productive for us."

RS FRESHMAN QUARTERBACK RILEY FERGUSON

»(On getting comfortable reading defenses)

"Yeah, I'm getting really comfortable reading defenses. That's the main thing I've been working on, looking at a lot of film work on a lot of coverages and stuff and I feel like I'm getting pretty good at it."

»(On improvements in turnovers since first scrimmage)

"I feel like overall today we did well taking care of the ball but when we got down to the red zone there were just some moves we made that weren't right now we just have to go watch it on film, learn from it and get better."

SENIOR QUARTERBACK JUSTIN WORLEY

»(On today's scrimmage)

"I thought, offensively, we had one of our best days moving the ball and with some explosive plays. Jason Croom had a couple of touchdowns. Josh Malone had a touchdown. Jalen ran the ball well, and Marlin did too when he was in there. I thought we had a good day. We got moved down to the five-yard line and the offensive line moved the defensive line pretty well. I thought it was a good day overall."

SENIOR LINEBACKER A.J. JOHNSON

»(On today' scrimmage)

"They're trying to get the younger guys more developed and let them get reps and get out there and perform. How you learn the most is just getting out there and playing, so that was a big key.

"I feel like we had a little more (energy) because we had people out here or something like that, but we're learning and getting better as a team. It was a good day."

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)

 


Moc Golfers 13th At Maui Jim Intercollegiate

The Chattanooga Mocs men’s golf team finished 13th after a final round 296 today in the Maui Jim Intercollegiate. The Mocs shot a season-low 876 at Mirabel Golf Club to finish one ahead of Notre Dame in 14th. Senior Brooks Thomas led the team with a career-best 1-under 212 total. That included 73 today on the par 71 tract tying for 22nd. “I’m really proud of Brooks,” coach ... (click for more)

Lee Women Third In Battle at Old South Tournament

The Lee women's golf team placed third against 18 strong NCAA Division II clubs in the annual Battle at Old South tournament. After posting a team score of 300 on Saturday, the Lady Flames improved by a stroke (299) on Sunday and finished the 36-hole event with a 599 total. St. Leo (Fla.) walked away with top team honors (292-300 - 592). Armstrong State (Ga.) was one stroke ... (click for more)

Boy In Critical Condition; Another Person Stabbed And Man Shot In Dispute At Apartments On Citico Avenue

A boy is in critical condition after being stabbed on Sunday afternoon in what police described as a dispute between neighbors. One other person was stabbed and a man was shot in the stomach in the melee in the 2700 block of Citico Avenue. The injuries to the second person stabbed in the neck and the shooting victim were said to be not life-threatening. The 12:45 p.m. incident ... (click for more)

Woman, 25, Shot On Dodson Avenue Early Sunday Afternoon

A 25-year-old woman was shot on Dodson Avenue just after noon on Sunday. Officers with the Chattanooga Police Department were notified at 12:13 p.m. by a local hospital that a victim arrived with a gunshot wound. The shooting reportedly occurred in the 1300 block of Dodson Avenue. Shaday Millener arrived at the hospital in a personal vehicle with a non-life threatening ... (click for more)

Patrol Cars Donation To Kevin Muhammad's Nation Of Islam Sets A Dangerous Precedent

Re: City Police donating two patrol cars to Kevin Muhammad's Nation of Islam: While I know it's unpopular to mention the wisdom of separation of church and state, this sets a dangerous precedent and should meet with concern from everyone who values religious and secular freedom. What's next? Southern Baptists getting old city parking scooters to patrol church parking lots ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Pitch Called ‘The Defector’

When Jose Fernandez was killed early Sunday morning in a boating accident, he was 24 years old yet had already lived a life much larger than almost all old men. He had spent part of a year in an unimaginably cruel Cuban prison, this when he only 14 years old and sandwiched in an inhumane cell among grown criminals. There were murders daily – in his very cell -- and nobody cared. ... (click for more)