4 Things Dave Hooker Learned From Weekend Practices

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Updated: August 19, 2013

practice report

Here are four things I learned from Tennessee’s weekend practices:

The quarterback battle is closer than I expected it was or, frankly, ever would be this year.

I felt pretty sure last week that Justin Worley would be named UT’s starter sooner as opposed to later. The junior received the majority of first-team snaps during preseason camp, had the most experience and was solid — although not spectacular — in preseason camp.

However, redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman has kept himself in the race. FIrst-year head coach Butch Jones has said he’d like to name a starter and stick with him throughout the season. I don’t think that’s going to happen. A quarterback rotation is the most likely possibility.

Tennessee’s linebackers aren’t ready for stardom.

While A.J. Johnson is solid, he was criticized by Jones for poor discipline this weekend. That’s not good.

The senior has to trust his reads and not be too creative. He’s needs to be the rock of UT’s defense. Johnson has a better grasp of UT’s defense than ever before but his tendency to try to make the big plays have him out of position more times than he should be.

Curt Maggitt is still limited with a healing knee. The junior won’t be 100-percent to start the season and won’t be fully healthy in September. It’s time to consider a redshirt season. Dontavis Sapp and Brent Brewer are converted safeties doing their best to learn the outside linebacker position. The Vols upperclassmen on the defensive line had better be good to give their ‘backers chances to make plays.

Tennessee’s vaunted group of freshmen receivers still have some ground to make up.

It’s hard for UT fans not to get excited about young receivers. Over the years, the Vols have had underclassmen wideout make repeated impacts. That will likely still happen this year, but don’t expect it until after September.

Marquez North is the most talented newcomer receiver. Josh Smith is the most dependable. Ryan Jenkins and Paul Harris have shown flashes of potential. However, there doesn’t seem to be a playmaker immediately ready to contribute. Redshirt freshman Jason Croom needs to step up to make this a formidable group.

Kicking needs to improve.

The Vols are clearly asking for senior Michael Palardy to do too much. He’s much too willing to oblige.

Palardy has transformed himself from a top-rated high-school placekicker to a solid college punter. Palardy should stick to punting and kickoffs. The Vols need a solid kicker from inside 40-yards. Can Palardy be that? He hasn’t shown so to this point.

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