Tennessee held its first pseudo spring scrimmage last Saturday, giving quarterbacks Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano a chance to further vie for the starting job with some live bullets flying.
Coach Butch Jones was short on specifics about the scrimmage, but he did say wideout Jauan Jennings "had a very good scrimmage." Jennings caught a touchdown in the scrimmage, per a UT video.
Overall, Jones said the goal Saturday was to assess the mental makeup of his team after just two weeks of camp. While there are certainly some issues that remain unaddressed, ultimately, Jones liked what he saw.
"Well I think first of all just playing football and seeing where we're at from a mental aspect. From missed assignments to our overall style of play, our habits. How they're going to come out and compete. I thought our players really came out to compete. I liked the way they approached things," he said.
"Now, there's some things we need to get better (at) in a hurry, but it was what, practice six of the spring, and that's why we came back to 'Technique Tuesday' in practice seven, to really slow down and really work on the fundamentals and fine details. And we'll go back and scrimmage again on Saturday."
Back at Neyland. Back making plays 😈🍊🏈 pic.twitter.com/cLJtzhgwIq
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) April 2, 2017
During the scrimmage, Tennessee worked on situational football, specifically focusing on 3rd downs and the red zone. Jones noted several "teaching points" when both the offense and defense made a couple errors.
"First down, we gave up a sack. We can't give up a sack there," Jones said. "Then the end of the scrimmage, it was tied up, it was very competitive and the offense had a 3rd-and-17 and they converted. We jumped an underneath route. So there was great teaching moment because it's 3rd-and-17, get depth. All those teach-points are invaluable that you can't rely on just training camp to teach those."
THE VETERAN JENNINGS
There's no doubt the intensity of the receivers unit is higher when junior Jauan Jennings is on the practice field. Jennings has long been noted as one of the Vols' best competitors, and this spring he's clearly become more vocal in teaching and demanding his fellow receiver teammates.
“We have challenged him from a leadership standpoint as he is the veteran of the group,” Jones said. “Again, I think it's everyone evolving in that their leadership. It's a work in progress. Jauan had a very good scrimmage on Saturday. It's Jauan understanding too it's what you do without the ball in your hands that's just as important as when the ball is in your hands. We all know that Jauan is as competitive as any young man that I have ever coached and you love that. When the game is on the line, he wants the ball in his hands. That's what you want as a coach. It's all the small details of the entire receiver corp.”
Sophomore Tyler Byrd is still getting comfortable as a receiver and said Jennings, as all as the other receivers, are holding everyone accountable every day.
“Jauan is always on everyone, and we are on him too,” Byrd said. “We all just have to depend on each other. In the wide receiver room we know how we should do things. So everyone needs to focus on each other because we need each other to be successful.
“If you can't take constructive criticism. It's going to be a long day. It's going to be hard. He helps us and we help him to be a better receiver group.”
Hitting the halfway point of spring practice, the quarterback battle is showing no signs of separation at this point. Tuesday, Jones was asked if he liked where his quarterbacks are through seven practices and he said, "Yes," noting there have been plenty of teaching opportunities.
“Yea (like where they are). I think you have to keep in it in perspective,” Jones said. “We were talking about the wide receiver group. Latrell Williams, Jeff George, even Tyler Byrd. These are kids that are going through their first spring. Jarrett Guarantano is going through is first spring. Will McBride is going through his first spring.
"As a coach you have to step back and say it's all teaching points, but I seem them getting better, better and better. It's been difficult with some injuries so that's been challenging for them in terms of continuity and getting into a rhythm but I do like the way they are all progressing.”