Tennessee initiated the first of its two-a-day practices Saturday morning with special teams-heavy, full-speed 11-on-11 work with mixed results.
Working coverage units as well as critical late-game situations, Tennessee's offense struck for an early touchdown when quarterback Justin Worley hit Pig Howard in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown.
But offensive highlights were few and far between following that moment. The second-team offense saw an incomplete pass from Nathan Peterman followed by a swing pass to tailback Justus Pickett, who was tackled inbounds.
With time running out, first-year coach Butch Jones bemoaned his team's lack of execution in the critical situation and said, "We just lost the game. Nobody yelled for NASCAR (the Vols' late-game play-call for a fast field goal)."
Devrin Young later caught a touchdown pass in another short-yardage, late-game goal-line situation --- while the Vols' defensive coaches lobbied the scrimmage officials for an offensive pass interference call on the play. The defensive staff members were adamant that the Vols had run a "pick play" to rub off the defender and free Young.
Channing Fugate continued to be absent from the team and while he is officially listed on the UT roster as of this morning, Fugate will not return to the program multiple sources have told VolQuest.com.
The offense was placed at the 40-yard line a couple of times in late-game situations with 22 seconds left. After the first-team unit gained no ground, the Vols missed a pair of improbable 57-yard field goal attempts.
The second-team offense yielded a sack and did not get to attempt a field goal.
The biggest play of the day came in a late-game situation, with the Vols' offense down two points and on its own 41. Facing fourth-and-24 after a penalty and a sack, Worley hit Marquez North down the left sideline, but junior safety Brian Randolph made a powerful hit on North to dislodge the ball and end the series.
Jones praised the bang-bang play and noted that in his estimation Randolph would not have been flagged in a game for targeting or launching because Randolph did not seek to lead with his head. Officials didn't flag Randolph on the play. College football has new rules regarding targeting defenseless receivers that can result in 15-yard penalties and even suspensions.
In fact, SEC Official Rocky Goode met with the team early Saturday morning before practice to go over rule changes including the new targeting rule. Goode is making a presentation to the coaches at lunch time to go over rules and any questions about the 9 new rules going into effect this fall.
The second-team offense moved into long field goal position but saw George Bullock's low kick blocked at the line of scrimmage. Jones paused all action to instruct his team that the ball must be covered if blocked behind the line of scrimmage and treated as "poison" if advanced beyond the line of scrimmage on the block.
Tennessee's first-team punt unit was as follows: JaRon Toney, Brian Randolph, Greg King, Corey Miller, Dontavis Sapp, Raiques Crump, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Cam Sutton, Trevarris Saulsberry, Matt Giampapa and punter Michael Palardy.
Devrin Young and Johnathon Johnson returned punts for the Vols.
Limited or in the black hole doing rehab work were: Paul Harris, Mo Couch (boot on his right foot), Josh Smith --- though he ran a good deal; Malik Foreman, green jersey; LaDarrell McNeil in green; Justin Coleman in the pit some.
Click VolQuest.com will tweet and post notes immediately following today's post-practice comments --- and will do so each day of camp. Additionally, we will have videos, a photo gallery, notes and multiple stories following Saturday night's scrimmage. Staff twitter handles are: @VolQuest_Rivals, @VolQuest_Paul, @VolQuest_Rob, @AustinPriceless, @John_BriceVQ and special contributor @GrantRamey. Here to view this Link.