Quick-Hitters From Football Practice 8/12
To The House That Neyland Built: Roughly an hour and a half before it was set to begin, word began circulating that Butch Jones had moved practice from the standard Haslam Field to the hallowed grounds of Neyland Stadium and Shields-Watkins Field. Butch and the staff continue to try to find the right buttons to push to motivate this team and moving tonight’s practice to the stadium seemed to help. Butch stressed all night that there had to be a different level of intensity when playing in “Our House!” Jones was on the mic early and often as practice began, exclaiming to his team, “If you aren’t excited to be here, then you don’t have a pulse!” Both the offense and defense had their moments, but the offense seemed to respond best to the change of venue as they had success moving the ball during the elevon-on-eleven work.
Three Man Weave: Butch Jones again implemented his recent Harlem Globetrotter-esque drill to start practice. Players start in three lines and weave down the field in groups of three as they pitch the ball to each other. Butch wants to see every drill and every rep at full intensity and, in my opinion, uses this drill to gauge attitude and who is willing to follow directions regardless of how silly the drill may be…and believe me, this one is silly. Coach Jones watches every group closely as he looks at demeanor, communication, leadership skills and pitch technique. While I don’t suspect this drill makes its way into the offensive system any time soon, it is at least entertaining to observe.
Kickoff Work: Early in practice the team went into some eleven-on-eleven kickoff work with the first team kicking it off to the second team. Pig Howard and Devrin Young got reps with the first team receiving unit as they worked on fielding short kicks, squib kicks and pooch kicks. Coach Elder had plenty of teaching opportunities as many balls were dropped or allowed to bounce before the offense could gather them. This drill was mostly for the ‘up-backs’ as they worked on kicks that the deep man would rarely have a chance to get to. Coach Elder harped on communication from start to finish, telling his team how a lack of communication would result in balls on the ground.
Eleven-on-Eleven: During the team period the starters on offense included Justin Worley and Rajion Neal in the backfield as Pig Howard, Marquez North and Jacob Carter got the start on the outside. The offense was moving the ball efficiently but stalled as Marquez North allowed a diving deep post to bounce off of his hands in the end-zone . While the catch was not an easy one to make, it was one that everyone felt that Marquez should have come down with. Coach Jones was visibly upset at the dropped touchdown pass and let his receiver hear about it. “Make a play, Freshman! Make a play! You’ll only get two or three opportunities like that in a game. Make a play!”
Ferguson Growing: Freshman quarterback Riley Ferguson got some early run with the second team offense tonight after Peterman took a few early snaps. Ferguson had two very nice plays in a row, both on roll-outs, as he hit Devrin Young on what seemed to be the same play called back-to-back. Ferguson faked the inside draw and rolled hard to his right as he waited for Young to streak open across the right hash-mark. Both plays went for a first down and really seemed to energize the offense as they headed into their run-game work. Ferguson showed shades of fellow #10 Erik Ainge as he directed the no-huddle, fast-paced offense down the field in, arguably, the offense’s best work of the night.
Houston Kress is a Writer/Host/Producer for Tennessee Sports Radio and TNSportsRadio.com. Contact/follow him on twitter at @VolRumorMill