KNOXVILLE, Tenn. It was a fun filled atmosphere at Neyland Stadium on Saturday as the Vols held Student and Faculty Appreciation Day. The afternoon concluded with Butch Jones dancing with his players and students from campus.
On the field, the defense controlled the day and took back the right to wear the orange uniforms from the offense, who had donned the orange this past week.cheap jerseys
“Today was a big day for us,” said sophomore defensive lineman Corey Vereen. “We had to have today to keep going to the next week and to the Orange White game and to the season. We had to have today. It was a good momentum changer and everybody had a little energy, a little juice, a little pep in their step. It was a good day. Today was very key in what we’re trying to do here.”
The defense, which was wearing white uniforms this week, put extra emphasis on its performance. “I attribute today to our leaders,” said Vereen. “Everybody stepped up and got each position group going. Jordan Williams got the D Line going. [Johnson] got them going. Coleman got the DBs going. Everybody got their position groups going and that just led into the scrimmage and everybody had a lot of energy.”One week from the DISH Orange White Game, the Vols are still rotating four quarterbacks in practice action. Butch Jones continues to look for the team’s primary starting signal caller for 2014. He hasn’t set a timetable for the announcement, which could last until just before the regular season gets underway as it did in the fall of 2013.
Here’s Jones’ take after Saturday’s action.
“The thing I keep talking about is consistency in performance,” said Jones. “To play quarterback at the University of Tennessee, we need an individual who can improvise, make plays but can take care of the football but play with a very high level of consistency.
“I thought there were too many ups and downs from the entire practice, from throwing the ball, one on ones, we had some windy conditions, but that is part of playing the game, that is part of playing in the elements. So we will go back and we will evaluate it. Nathan Peterman hung in the pocket a number of times and delivered some passes as well. Josh Dobbs did some things. All four did some good things but there are also a lot of things that need to be corrected in a hurry.”
The quarterbacks gave their input on their days.
“It has been going well,” senior Justin Worley said of the quarterback competition. “Each and every guy brings something to the table. We help each other in the meeting room, we help each other on the field. It has been good. We have driven each other every day.
“I think we have all taken it with a position attitude, I think we have all worked on what we can control, in abilities and try to get better each and every day with what we are doing.”
Sophomore Joshua Dobbs agrees that the battle has been competitive.
“We’re coming out here and working hard,” said Dobbs. “We’re trying to put our best foot forward every day and continue to compete against one another. We are all pushing each other to be the best quarterbacks we can be. We are trying to grow overall as a great position unit and as individuals so it’s going well.”
The quarterbacks showed flashes of brilliance on Saturday, but also struggled with interceptions and sacks.
“We just want to sharpen up all the little details with the offense,” said redstart freshman Riley Ferguson. “You know just the missed assignments and catching the football when we need to and protections against the defense.”
Worley saw some positives as the day progressed.
“It took us a little while to get going,” said Worley. “I thought we got into a little rhythm for a little while and then these last few plays Coach put us through, really important situations, we had some drops and we didn’t execute like we wanted to. So we didn’t end well but overall I thought it was a pretty productive day.”
Dobbs echoed their feelings.
“I feel like it was a lot more crisp,” he said. “We had a lot of great plays being made, especially on offense. Josh Smith and Cody Blanc had some great catches. It was another day that we took a positive step forward.”
Ferguson has taken to Jones’ snap and clear’ mentality when it comes to throwing interceptions.
“I’m just trying to overcome [interceptions] and not worry about them,” said Ferguson. “I need to move forward. Once it happens, you can’t do anything about it because it is in the past. So I just tried to move forward and have a good rest of practice.”
Ferguson connected with sophomore Josh Smith on one of the biggest plays of the day for the offense for a long touchdown pass, something the QB took a lot of pride in.
“That felt good,” Ferguson said “I didn’t really see the pass because the line was in the way, but I knew [Smith] was going to beat him so I just threw it up and let him go get it.”
MARSHMALLOWS NO MORE
When Jones yells into the microphone at practice, everybody listens. So, when the defense was called “soft like marshmallows” earlier this week, they realized something needed to change.
“As a defense, early on in the spring, we had a lot of great days,” said redshirt junior Curt Maggitt. “I can honestly say the past few practices weren’t good as a defense.”