Following the thrilling, 2OT 42-41 victory over Georgia Tech, the Tennessee Volunteers hit the practice field on Wednesday in prep for Indiana State.
The first thought that entered my mind was how quiet the atmosphere seemed. For most of the practices I’ve been at so far in fall camp, the energy has been high from both players and coaches. Today, most of the energy seemed to come from the coaches. I’d say a lot of it stems from exhaustion but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about as I’m sure that’s typical from playing a flexbone team into two overtimes.
The media was allowed four open periods with no photo or video in the second (special teams work). Pretty much all I got to see was the offense so here are some of my quick observations:
- Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano were sharing first team reps
- Kendall Vickers was back on the field and looking fluid despite suffering a minor foot injury in the game
- John Kelly and Ty Chandler were getting individual work from Robert Gillespie
- Walt Wells was really hammering the offensive line and forcing them to play tougher
- Josh Smith was back as well and looked to be running clean routes
Honestly, there doesn’t really seem to be any questions at the position — Quinten Dormady is the starter. However, Guarantano has been sharing first team reps throughout camp and even into the regular season practice schedule. This is my personal opinion, but from what I’ve seen from camp and everything, I think Butch Jones wanted to include Guarantano in the game Monday, but as he always points out, it came down to “situational football.” By that, I mean with the various situations Tennessee was in throughout the game, I think Butch had to keep Dormady in just based on the facts that he’s: A) The more experienced quarterback and B) He had already led drives in the game and understood the flow.
With Indiana State rolling into Knoxville this Saturday, I think you’ll definitely see a lot more of Guarantano, at least you should expect that. If Dormady is having to play the entire game, then that means the Vols aren’t doing so great against a team that is coming off a 22-20 loss to perennial power…wait for it…Eastern Illinois.
Rest Of The Offense
John Kelly had a breakout game against the Yellow Jackets, rushing for 124 yards and four touchdowns. I thought it was somewhat interesting that he and freshman Ty Chandler were getting some individual reps with Robert Gillespie in practice. Chandler and Fils-aime saw some action against Georgia Tech, but it may appear Chandler is stepping up and is really pushing for that backup role.
Drew Richmond was suspended for the Tech game, but will be back and starting this week at left tackle. He was at practice as well and looked pretty solid in some blocking drills, drawing praise from Walt Wells.
As mentioned before, Josh Smith was back at practice in a green, non-contact jersey. He looked to be running fluid routes and was getting first team reps. With Jauan Jennings out for the remainder of the year, the Vols are going to need to rely more on Marquez Callaway, Tyler Byrd, Josh Palmer and other young receivers — all who were also looking good in drills.
Tomorrow’s practice is closed to media, but several assistants and players will be available around noon for a press conference. Tennessee will kickoff against the Sycamores at 4 p.m. Saturday. The game will be featured on the SEC Network.