published Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Vols scrimmage goes to defense

KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee's second spring scrimmage went decisively to the defense.

The Volunteers worked a variety of situations at Neyland Stadium with the defense controlling most of Saturday afternoon.

Though Butch Jones liked the strides his defensive unit took with its mental energy and intensity, Tennessee's new coach was disappointed in the offense's overall performance.

"Not pleased at all," Jones said describing his assessment of the Vols' offense. "I didn't think we were physical at the line of scrimmage. I was disappointed in the way our offensive line came off the football, disappointed with our runnings backs and obviously our receivers have a long way to go.

"To finish out the last portion of spring, our offense needs to step up and somebody needs to take ownership, and defensively the same thing, but I liked the way they flew around. I thought it was a tremendous teaching opportunity with all the different situations. We can go back on Monday and really have a lot of things to teach in terms of situational football, and that's so much part of it, the intelligence factor that really goes into football."

It was tough afternoon specifically for Tennessee's young receivers. With Jacob Carter sporting a protective boot on his right foot, the Vols were already one short at the position before Vincent Dallas was shaken up on the first kickoff of the scrimmage and Paul Harris went out to ice his left hamstring midway through the workout. Neither injury is considered major.

Some drops plagued Harris, Cody Blanc and Pig Howard, though Jason Croom, who's come on as of late, made a nice driving-extending catch on fourth down during one overtime situation.

The offense and defense split four drives that began at midfield to start the scrimmage, with Devrin Young's run on a reverse setting up a Marlin Lane touchdown and quarterback Nathan Peterman's scrambling throw to Drae Bowles for a long gain setting up Alden Hill's score.

The defense, though, won all six of the drives where the offense began on its own 35-yard line after the Vols work with their offense backed up on its 2.

Linebacker A.J. Johnson and safety Geraldo Orta made some big hits, while defensive linemen Daniel McCullers, Corey Miller and Jacques Smith each got a hands on passes at the line of scrimmage. Jordan Williams made a crunching sack of Peterman in one situation where Jones made the quarterback, typically off limits for contact, live.

The offense performed better when the Vols worked various overtime situations, with both quarterbacks orchestrating touchdowns.

As he's been throughout the spring, Jones was active and vocal on the wireless microphone he carries around, setting up the simulated scenarios, challenging players and announcing penalties.

"Our margin of error with this football team is very slim," Jones said. "You all see it. We all know. Let's not hide between it -- we know. We can be a good football team, but our margin of error is extremely small. It's limited.

"We can't have turnovers, we can't have penalties and our players understand that, but every time out here is a teaching moment. I'm going to say it, and I'm going to continue to say it: our kids have been outstanding. They've been willing, they've been eager, they want more, they want to learn. When you have that, you can accomplish good things and get better, and I see that.

For more coverage of Saturday's scrimmage, see Sunday's Times Free Press.

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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