Butch Jones says UT Vols' open practice effective

photo Tennessee quarterback Riley Ferguson (10), left, looks for an open receiver while under pressure at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville in this file photo.
photo Butch Jones, Tennessee's head football coach, speaks during a news conference in this file photo.

KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee football coach Butch Jones wanted to use Saturday night's open practice at Neyland Stadium as a major evaluation tool for his team.

He got exactly what he wanted with a driving rainstorm on top.

Early into the Volunteers' practice, rain began to fall steadily hard, but it didn't stop Tennessee from working out in front of an announced crowd of 39,000.

"I think that's the big thing, is being able to practice in this type of environment," Jones said afterward. "Two weeks from today, it's real. Like I told our football team, two weeks from today, there are no do-overs. There are no rewind buttons or reset buttons.

"To be able to go back and have the pulse go up and have some pressure situations and have to perform in front of a crowd, I thought it was great, especially when we're playing some young players like we are this year."

The practice included one-on-one drills with receivers against defensive backs, linebackers on tight ends and tailbacks and offensive linemen agains their defensive counterparts. The team periods including situational work, from the red zone and end-game scenarios to backing the offense up and third downs.

"It's just finding our guys," offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James said. "[It's] finding out who's going to be able to go out there and make plays in front of these people.

"I feel like we're going to go evaluate ourselves, things we could get better on, and just move forward."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.