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6 Things We Learned From The Orange And White Game

Spring games often serve as a barometer for a football team and how well they will perform whenever the season rolls around in the Fall. On Saturday, the Tennessee football team held their annual spring game, giving everyone a preview of what to expect from new head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his team. Here are a few of the things we learned.

 

1. The running game might be better than anticipated.

With last years leading rusher John Kelly electing to go to the NFL, whether or not Tennessee could effectively run the ball this season was up for debate. Saturday showed us that the one-two punch of Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan could be the answer, tallying 110 yards and 2 touchdowns between them. Both showed good speed in the open field and a proclivity for making tacklers miss. Like all spring games though, the good for the offense is bad for the defense and vice versa, so take any stats from this game with a grain of salt.

2. Jeremy Pruitt has his work cut out for him fixing this defense.

We know that the offense wasn’t that great last season (dead last in total yards in the SEC), so it doesn’t bode well that the first team defense gave up 34 points against that same offense minus John Kelly. Pruitt has a history of coaching up exceptional defenses, so hopefully he will be able to turn it around, but there were moments where some players just looked lost. It was a very inauspicious start to what is bound to be a long season, but there is still plenty of time to iron out the wrinkles before the season starts.

3. Wide receivers could be a strength this season.

Again, this might be that the defensive back play was anemic, but the wide receivers looked pretty darn good on Saturday. Marquez Callaway channeled his inner Randy Moss for a touchdown catch, while Latrell Williams showed out on a 36-yard touchdown later on. Josh Palmer and Eli Wolf could also be assets to the offense this season, and everyone knows very well that the return of Jauan Jennings could mean big things as well.

4. I-Formation back.

Finally. After years of gimmicky offensive schemes with no consistent results, Tennessee is getting back to playing tough, hard-nosed SEC football. Going under center was prevalent, which will likely lead to some better results in the run game and more consistency in the red zone this season. Fans are also sure to appreciate the return or more traditional offensive tactics as well.

5. The program still feels the need to exaggerate attendance numbers.

In a classic Butch Jones-esque move, the final attendance number was apparently greatly exaggerated. a topic of debate.

With an announced attendance of just over 65,000, Saturday’s Orange and White game was the 4th largest crowd for an Orange and White game in history. But according to just about everyone that was there, it was more along the lines of 40,000-45,000. Making it even stranger, everyone knew that the final announced number would be exaggerated going in to the game. Why the school feels the need inflate that number, it’s hard to say, but I imagine that number matters a lot less to recruits, fans, and the team than the people in charge would believe.

Pruitt also briefly mentioned the crowd and the fans in his post game presser.

“Well I thought it was great. I thought the Vol Walk was spectacular. I don’t know how many fans we had. You guys probably know. Well, to me, it’s kind of like our football team for the fans. The ones that were here, I’m proud they were here. They’re fired up and ready to get going. Then there were some people that wasn’t here that had legitimate reasons they couldn’t be here. Then there were some people that wasn’t here that, why wasn’t they here? It’s kind of like our football team. I think we all need to look in the mirror and see who we want to be.”

Pruitt seems a little frustrated that the crowd wasn’t bigger, but for a team coming off of a 4-8 record and the worst decade in team history, 65,000 people at a spring game seems “aight” to me.

6. The recruits present seemed to enjoy the experience.

Spring games also serve as a reason to get recruits on campus, which is always a good thing. The ones that did come to the game this weekend seemed to enjoy it.

4 Star Cornerback Jaydon Hill

https://twitter.com/_jhill5/status/987819506067279877

3 Star Tight End Jackson Lowe

https://twitter.com/jacksonlowee/status/987792595471491077

3 Star Cornerback Shyheim Battle

With a less than stellar close to the 2017 recruiting class, Pruitt and company will take any positive momentum they can get on the recruiting trail. Hopefully, the Orange and White game on Saturday will serve as a jumping off point for a strong next class.

 

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