8-27 Practice Notebook
8-27 Practice Nootbook:
If Justin Worley is looking for experience to lean on, he needs to just glance to his right. There, in his three-point stance, is Tennessee offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James, a senior who has started 37 games in his career.
The baby-faced James doesn’t look the part of the alpha male that first-year Vols head coach Butch Jones has been looking for to lead his offense. That’s fine with James. He sees Worley taking that role.
“He is a junior now so it is his job to be that alpha male now,” James said. “I was soft spoken. I was just listening to the leaders and things like that, but he needs to be more of a leader and he has done that more this summer and at camp. He has done a better job of being more vocal and taking control of the offense.”
The Vols haven’t had stable quarterback leadership recently. Former starter Tyler Bray seemed to always be saddled with attitude issues on and off the field. Perhaps Worley can provide more stability.
“It gives us confidence because we have confidence in him now,” James said. “You see him getting confidence in himself out there playing. He is starting to play with a little bit of swag.”
Freshmen Riley Ferguson and Joshua Dobbs seem to have aspects of Bray and Worley in their demeanor. That may well be a good mix one day.
“Riley has a great arm and he takes control,” James said. “I told him that he reminded me of Tyler Bray as a freshman. Joshua Dobbs as well, he is a smart kid and he knows the offense. He has a great arm. Every time he is in the game, Coach Jones says it’s live. He will scramble in the pocket, and he is pretty fast.”
Maggitt Won’t Quit
Linebacker Curt Maggitt continues to battle back from a knee injury. However, it’s looking less likely he’ll reach his goal of being 100-percent by the season opener against Austin Peay on Saturday. On Tuesday, Jones said Maggitt has been “slow” in his return and that the Vols missed his presence and athleticism. Maggitt was limited on Tuesday despite Jones’ declaration on Monday that he would return to full team periods this week.
Jones said Maggitt’s playing status would be a game time decision made on Saturday. Jones also said he wasn’t sure if Maggitt would be out one week, two weeks or more but added that the health of the junior would be the ultimate determining factor in his return.
Specials in the Stadium
UT’s kickers and punters spent time practicing in Neyland Stadium on Tuesday once again in order to best handle the environment there. The Vols have done so several times during preseason camp.
“I just got back from kicking in the stadium,” senior Michael Palardy said after practice. “We have been doing that all throughout camp. It has helped tremendously. It isn’t something we have done much in years past. The specialists went over and kicked in the stadium because that is where we are going to spend most of our time kicking. We are just trying to get acclimated to the surroundings.”
Palardy said he expects to handle kickoffs, placekicking and punting on Saturday. He has worked at all three and largely been the most proficient at each throughout camp.
Earlier in his career, Palardy has suffered soreness in his leg before from doing less. With Jones in charge, he said he’s not expected to kick as often in any of the three disciplines.
“I talk about having efficient reps and not having a lot of reps,” said Palardy. “I think I have had a lot of efficient reps. Coach Jones knows that when you are doing all three you have to tone it down a little bit. When you go out and you kick or punt you have to make sure those reps count.”
Heat is Neat
Jones said he was pleased his team experienced some hot weather on Tuesday since the Vols will have to likely face the same weather on Saturday. However, Jones said there was some cramping as the Vols limped towards the end of practice.
Overall, Jones seemed pleased with Tuesday’s practice. However, he said he needed underclassmen to be more ready for practice by getting proper rest and following correct nutrition guidelines.
“I think the next phase in the evolution of this football team is how this football team is learning how to prepare for game week and really learning how to invest in victory,” said Jones. “The intensity, the effort that it takes and really you know Saturday night we put our resume on film and what type of players are we going to be.”