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April 9, 2013

Practice 10: Nuts and Bolts

Crying babies, blaring car horns, buzzing insects and, oh yes, football Tuesday morning on Haslam Field all were part of Tennessee's 10th practice of spring camp under first-year coach Butch Jones.

Almost from the outset of the Vols' first work since their intrasquad scrimmage inside Neyland Stadium on Saturday, they were tested with game-like situations as Jones both barked instructions and continued his motivational tactics.

Placed in goal-to-go and two-point conversion style situations, the Vols found both scores and stops. Daniel Gray initially defended Jason Croom on an incomplete pass in the end zone, but Justin King found the right pylon for the second-team offense on a short pass from Nathan Peterman.

Tennessee quickly shifted into other drills, with Jones bellowing across the microphone "C'mon (Trevarris) Saulsberry! It's making me hurt watching you run!"

Most lineup combinations remained from the scrimmage, but most notable were those unable to practice: Paul Harris, Vincent Dallas and Jacob Carter all worked on the side in yellow jerseys. Harris tweaked a hamstring in the scrimmage while Dallas was injured on kickoff at the onset Saturday and Carter continued to work back from a foot injury that has resulted in Carter wearing a boot on his right foot. Riyahd Jones also got some work with the injured Vols, and Antonio 'Tiny' Richardson continued to do the same.

The team worked special teams in the early periods, with Marlin Lane, Rajion Neal and Devrin Young all getting reps. Kickoff return work also was ratcheted up in the early going with Alton 'Pig' Howard and Lane among those deep.

After the special teams and some individual tackling drills, Jones quickly shifted the team into third-down, red-zone situational work. Jones implored the team to step up when he noted, "This is the most critical down in football; third-down in the red zone."

Jones has noted before his belief in that specific down's importance because it is the difference between potentially scoring touchdowns and settling for field goals.

And it was during this period that the UT sound system got an all-new workout. Sound effects included a loud, crying baby; jet airplanes; buzzing insects and an ominous, almost test-pattern type noise.

During the crying baby portion Jones singled out mammoth defensive tackle Daniel McCullers when he said, "This is what you sound like McCullers!"

Croom rebounded during the period to catch a TD over Gray, and Howard capped it with a score. In between, LaDarrell McNeil broke up a pass intended for Young.

The Vols then retreated into various individual stations before more team work. Zach Azzanni continued his intense coaching of the receivers, noting during one drill "This is the slowest I've had to run this drill in 14 years."

A.J. Johnson continued to show improvement with some violent hits in one-on-one drills, and the offensive line appeared much more physical than Saturday's scrimmage during team line drills.


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