Tennessee concludes an important spring in Saturday’s Orange and White Game. The Vols are still suffering from tough roster numbers…thanks to Derek Dooley and his predecessors. Butch Jones is recruiting well, and we’ll see that start to manifest itself this fall, and even more during the 2015 season.
Here’s what to watch for in Saturday’s spring game:
The Volnation has Butch Jones’ back; they believe he’s the right guy for the job. Jones has placed a massive amount of time connecting with fans, students and faculty at the university, and Tennessee could log the most attendance during Saturday’s spring game. The Vols finished third behind Auburn and Alabama last season with 61,706; how many fans will come out Saturday? Several have predicted Tennessee will have the largest fan turnout.
Quarterbacks will have everyone’s full attention. Four are battling this spring to get the keys to Butch Jones’ offense. Justin Worley and Riley Ferguson seem to be the two separating themselves from the rest of the pack. Josh Dobbs will be an asset because of his running ability this season, and Nathan Peterman could be the odd man out. Still, Saturday will give us an indication of the progress of all four players, and we’ll get an idea of what the coaches are thinking, too. Saturday may not solve any position battles, but it will certainly give us an overall idea of where the competition stands exiting spring practice.
One word: newcomers. Coaches have been buzzing about newcomers all spring, and we’ll get our first look at running back Jalen Hurd, wide receives Josh Malone and Von Pearson and many more. Hurd has turned heads this spring, and seeing him in a Tennessee uniform will create buzz Saturday; Malone, too, has created his own buzz as a receiver. Pearson was even on SportsCenter for his one-handed catch! The skill guys always get the hype.
Too Maggitt to quit
Curt Maggitt is back, and the coaching staff has tinkered with Maggitt at defensive end. Maggitt possesses the rare athleticism to play with his hand up or down, and just having him on the field not only as a playmaker but as a leader will instantly make the defense better. Seeing a healthy Maggitt flying around and making plays will be a sight for sore eyes. He made 56 tackles, including 5.5 for loss, during his 2011 freshman season. He missed last year recovering from a knee injury suffered in 2012.
Tennessee’s biggest concern is obviously at offensive line. With all five starters gone, watching the offensive line rotation Saturday will be highly educational. Only offensive guard Marcus Jackson likely has a starting spot sewed up. JUCO transfer Dontavius Blair should compete for a starting tackle job. Guys like Mack Crowder, Kyler Kerbyson and Coleman Thomas, among others, will be under the microscope.
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