Quick-Hitters From Football Practice 8/22
Starting Out: During the pre-practice walk-through session, the media may have gotten a brief look at the starting offense for the Austin Peay game next week. Marquez North, Pig Howard and Jason Croom got the start at wide-receiver with Brendon Downs joining them at the tight-end position. Justin Worley was the quarterback and Rajion Neal got the start in the backfield. Marlin Lane has been the expected starter lately, but today was seen in a knee brace and green jersey. The injury is not thought to be serious, just a precautionary measure as the team heads into game-week. The offensive line consisted of Richardson, James, Bullard, Stone and Fulton.
Down the Stretch: During today’s stretching session, coach Butch Jones was walking up and down the rows of players making sure they remained focused on the smallest details. He was critiquing stance and focus during the simplest of tasks…stretching…to drive home how important the ‘little things’ are to a football team. He stressed the importance of game-week preparation to his team, “Who wants to invest in victory? Who wants to invest in victory and who just wants to wear the ‘T’ when they go to the mall?” He also had the team yell out “A-P” after each whistle as the staff is beginning to shift the team’s focus towards game one.
Good Palardy: Today was a great day for senior placekicker and punter Michael Palardy. Palardy was easily the most consistent punter during drills as he boomed all of his kicks long and high with tight spiral and nice turnover. His kicks were in the 40-50 yard range and allowed the gunners ample opportunity to get downfield to make tackles upon the catch by the return man. And not to jinx him, but Palardy also had a nice day kicking field goals. In an early team period of live work he went 4/4 from four different spots on the field. The last one was a bomb from 47 yards out that would have been good from 60. His kicks started higher upon contact and carried further today.
Passing Game, Passing Grade: I’ll go ahead and say it…Today was the best the passing game has looked all season in drills. This team has struggled to complete passes against air all pre-season, but today they finally looked like they are putting things together in that department. During drills the QBs and WRs were 44/50 for an 88% completion rate that included some great snags by Drae Bowles, Jason Croom, and Marquez North. I know it was only drill-work, but these are timing routes that take time to perfect. It has taken longer than the coaches wanted, but the passing game seems to have taken a big step in the last week. And while inexperienced, this seems to be a very deep group of receivers with many guys that will contribute heavily all season.
*Note* – Paul Harris was back out with his teammates today in a green jersey for the first time in a few weeks and looked very good as he recovers from turf-toe.
Jones Mic’d Up: Butch Jones was as animated on the microphone as I have ever seen him today. He was constantly calling out players for effort, mistakes, loafing, and lack of focus.
After three minutes of drills, “Quit walking team 117, quit walking…and quit breathing hard.”
After two drops by WR Josh Smith, “Come on, Josh Smith. Come on Josh Smith…If you can’t do it in front of me, how are you going to do it in front of 102,455? This is why you came here…You wanted to play as a true freshman. We don’t have a choice, it is what it is.”
After the WRs walked to a drill, “You gotta be fresh! Two days off, eight hours of sleep a night and three gallons of water! You gotta learn how to take care of your bodies!”
After Tino Thomas was walking during the three-man weave drill, “Come on, Tino…Why are you walking? Why are you walking? We had two days off, you should be good to go. You have no excuse to be tired!”
Houston Kress is a Writer/Host/Producer for Tennessee Sports Radio. Follow/contact him on twitter at @VolRumorMill.