Stokes’ Stance: Spring Practice 2
Early Saturday morning the Vols took to Haslam Field for the second installment of spring practice 2014. With hair metal blaring over the loud speakers Team 118 again looked better than at any point Team 117 did in the spring. Again, the media was only allowed to see just a little bit, but what I saw today impressed me a bit more than what I was privy to yesterday.
Yesterday, Butch said that they “completed more balls in one skelly than all last season” and the same could be said from what I witnessed today. Last season, the QB’s and WR’s struggled to pass and catch vs air. So far, the complaints from the coaches are that the receivers aren’t catching the ball the way they want them to be caught every time. Even most of the DB’s are having success during interception drills.
The most exciting part of what the media was able to see, in my opinion, was the one on ones a couple of the receivers and db’s participated in at the goal line.
The match-ups: Foreman vs Malone, Sutton vs Pearson, Coleman vs North
These were three hotly contested battles which the defensive backs won 2-1. Foreman made a great play to break up a pass to Malone while the thoroughbred Von Pearson got the best of Cam Sutton. The most impressive win to me was Coleman over North. It was a fade route in the left corner of the endzone that saw Coleman come down with the football.
Let’s talk about Coleman for a second. The boy has put on some good weight, do doubt about it. He passes the eyeball test and so far has looked good in the drills we have seen. Granted it’s still just helmets and shorts, but he looks more capable physically than he ever has. Of course he is a guy that has shown drill to drill consistency issues and his shortcomings come game day have been well documented. We’ll see when the pads come on if the influx of talent has helped him improve his game. (Note: After his interview time yesterday, he picked up his helmet and complained that his knee was killing him. Something to watch.)
I don’t have much to say about the o-line or d-line yet because honestly, until the pads come on, it’s just a bunch of big dudes running around air blocking and hitting sleds. So I’ll have more to report on them as spring continues and gets more serious.
Yesterday during a drill, it appeared as if Riley hurt his left hand. He didn’t seem to be favoring it during his media availability at the end of yesterday’s practice, but today he wasn’t participating in that same drill because he was getting his hand taped. It didn’t seem to effect his throwing of the pigskin because it was his non-throwing hand but just something to watch.
The team definitely came out with high energy again today and you can tell Team 118 doesn’t seem to suffer from the “abused pet” personality that Team 117 showed through the majority of spring practice.
My source tells me that despite giving up an early int to Justin Coleman, receiver Marquez North made 3 spectacular one handed grabs during competition periods.
There have been a lot of questions surrounding Riyahd Jones and just how well he would bounce back this spring. I am told that he had a very good day during competition periods. Even going strength on strength in the endzone with North and winning that battle.
Riley Ferguson is said to have had the best day of the QB’s this morning. I was told that he was the most consistent player; not just QB; but player on the practice field today. He delivered the ball with confidence and poise, my source tells me that he was giddy watching Riley throw today.
My source also echoed yesterday’s sentiments about Malone and Hurd. He said they are eventual 1st round talents, but won’t be that in two months. Raw with lots of room to grow. He equated them to Robert Meachem in terms of early talent compared to polish.
Von Pearson is retaining the playbook very well. I am told that in just two practices he is already able to line up and perform at all 3 receiver positions. I saw a clip of yesterday’s competition period and he roasted anyone that tried him. If he has learned the playbook this fast, watchout.