IT’S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!
Well, kind of.
Team 121 took to the field today for the opening of spring camp. It’s the beginning of a new season filled with questions and changes. It’s also easy to get caught up in all the preseason hype and expectations but spring ball shouldn’t necessarily sway one’s opinions.
All eyes were on the quarterbacks for nearly all four media periods. Butch said in his press conference yesterday that the competition was open and that there is no “depth” chart. However, it was fairly obvious that Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano were the top two choices.
During one snapping drill that involved all the centers and QBs, Dormady was the one calling the snaps for everyone else in the drill. Also, QB coach Mike Canales separated the two from the rest of the group during the second period to throw fade routes to the receiving corps. Both showed strong arm power and were throwing semi-deep balls with ease. They weren’t perfect by any means but both showed some flashes in their throws. Dormady seemed to be more consistent than Guarantano, however.
Another focus of the media was on the new assistant coaches. Mike Canales and wide receiver coach Kevin Beard were both very talkative and brought energy to their groups. Canales would give praise one minute and then loudly point out a flaw the next. Beard had on cleats and gloves and was very hands on with the receivers. In one drill, he was teaching the group a certain way to line up and explode off the line. He even showed some stutter step moves, drawing some praise from the receivers (I’m pretty sure he could still go out and ball). It also looked like he introduced a more standard stance, moving away from Azzanni’s low stance philosophy. It’s really early, but I think Beard is just the right coach for this young group, especially for Jauan Jennings.
The defense looked more impressive than I expected. Kahlil McKenzie and Alexis Johnson looked to have slimmed down some and looked a little quicker. Brady Hoke and Charlton Warren were teaching fine details with technique. It looks as if Butch really improved the defense as a whole with those hires. Being objective, they really do bring a lot of experience to an entire unit that struggled heavily last season. The players seemed to respond well to all of the new coaches from what I saw.
Once again, this is just the first day of spring practice. We are still five months away from the season actually starting. There are a lot of questions that will remain unanswered until the season starts. Be sure to follow us for more spring coverage and let us know what you think.