Quick Scrimmage Thoughts

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

I was one in the fairly large crowd at today’s scrimmage, the final “preseason game” for the football Vols before the season opener against Western Kentucky in two weeks. I was at last week’s scrimmage and the practice the Thursday before that, but most of what I’ll hit on here will be about today. I only stayed for the first half, however, but I feel I saw enough…

First, Bryce Brown is a stud. It’s a real shame (and a load of BS) that he’s involved with this mess with the NCAA three years after-the-fact, but regardless he wowed the crowd today. He showed a scary-good combination of power and speed.

Three of his runs really stuck out to me. His first featured him getting stopped basically at the line of scrimmage, but he kept churning and moved the pile for a five-yard gain. Another carry he hit the hole full-speed and ended up with a 10-plus yard gain, breaking through to the second level of the defense. Finally, on his TD run, he tried to go up the middle, but bounced it back outside and had enough speed to get to the corner for six.

All of this on a bad hip. Who knows exactly how close to 100% he was, but if this was Brown at less than that, it’s exciting to think about.

Brown’s fellow freshman back David Oku also showed some ability, as he was effective in making one cut and getting through the hole. Add these two guys to Montario Hardesty and Tauren Poole, and these running backs could be a special group. Given the quarterback situation, I expect Lane Kiffin to run the ball quite a bit. Of course so will opposing defensive coordinators, so it will be interesting to see how the Vols handle stacked boxes.

Speaking of the quarterbacks, I still think Jonathan Crompton will be the guy. I know Kiffin said this week the race between Crompton and Nick Stephens was very close, but, based on the three times I’ve seen both guys play, Crompton’s been more consistent. Neither have been amazing, but Crompton has clearly been the better of the two. We’ll see if Lane thinks the same way later this week (he’s expected to name a starter by the middle of the week).

Gerald Jones played today, and had a couple of nice catches. Quintin Hancock caught a touchdown after catching a short pass and breaking a tackle. The Vols also ran this route a number of times: with one-on-one coverage on the outside, the receiver runs a go route up the sideline, and the QB throws it on a line to the wideouts back shoulder, catching the cornerback with his back turned to the play. They tried this play three or four times, completing one of them.

That looks to be the extent of the downfield passing game. Much of it was shorter stuff: rollouts with open guys in the flat and over the middle, quick slants, hooks, outs, etc. Expect the running backs to a big part of the passing game as well. Swing passes, for example. Also, Crompton scrambled and hit fullback Kevin Cooper for a long gain that setup a score (a pass down the field to the fullback? what is this?) I’m not saying Tennessee won’t ever go deep, but they haven’t all that much in the three times I’ve seen them.

Defensively, Brent Vinson didn’t play, but fellow cornerback Art Evans did. A number of freshman – linebackers Jerod Askew, Greg King, Nigel Mitchell-Thornton and Robert Nelson and defensive backs Janzen Jackson, Mike Edwards, Eric Gordon and Darren Myles – got work with the first and second teams. To me it’s always hard to really judge the defense in these scrimmages, because they are probably somewhat familiar with Tennessee’s offense having practiced against it for three weeks now.

They bounced back last week and pretty much dominated after getting basically shredded in the first practice, but today they weren’t as dominant. I don’t think it’s an area of concern – ie, if there’s something to worry about on this team, it isn’t the defense.

Wes Brown played a few series at defensive tackle, which was good to see. I didn’t see much from the guys behind Brown, Dan Williams and Montori Hughes – Marlon Walls, Rae Sykes and Victor Thomas. I’m not sure if that’s because they weren’t making any plays or because I just couldn’t tell.

A couple of other things: first, Lane wasn’t in the huddle today, as the first and second team offenses used signals, wristbands and play cards attached to their belts. The defense also had their plays on their belts as well, and the coaches on the sidelines were all wearing headsets, so I assume we had coaches in the press box. Secondly, on every third down, the intro to AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” began to play. I have no idea why. Finally, both teams were on the sideline closest to the fans, and between each possession they had short breaks – probably to give the guys a quick breather, but also to simulate TV timeouts.

Either way, we’re just two short weeks (although they’ll be the longest two weeks of the offseason) from Football Time in Tennessee.

Oh, and more thing…


About Home Sweet Home... … to me.

About the Author: I'm from Memphis but I'm now entering my third year at the University of Tennessee here in Knoxville. I am majoring in Journalism/Electronic Media and hope to go into sports broadcasting/writing/something like that. I'm a huge Vol fan and have been going to games for as long as I can remember. I started my on blog called "The View From The Hill" but moved here to Gate 21 for bigger and better things. In addition to my passion for Tennessee football and basketball, I enjoy watching the NFL and the NBA as well. Basically, sports are a big part of my life. >> Read more from this author

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4 Responses to “Quick Scrimmage Thoughts”

  • jimvolsNo Gravatar says:

    I was there as well. My observations:
    I was super impressed by B. Brown. His ability to move the pile coupled with some impressive speed has the makings of a future star. As long as the NCAA lets him on the field…
    Our fullback (Cooper?) has good hands. Crompton threw the ball below his knees and he was able to make the running catch, turn around and get like 8 yards.
    Crompton struggled with his touch on like 4-5 wheel routes overthrowing his receivers, twice when they were wide open.
    Crompton still seems to be staring down his targets. But he did make quite a few good throws. Really gunning it in to a target when necessary too.
    Braden Warren is quite the athlete. Can’t imagine why he didn’t get more playing time last year. His blocking couldn’t have been THAT bad.
    The jumbotron looks huge from the inside.
    Just wondering: are you a UT student and if so how did you find out about the scrimmage? I’m a student but also an avid football fan. As such, I found out about the scrimmage from a text update via utsports.com after I had signed up for student rewards, read about it online and saw a small blurb about it in the Daily Beacon. A few sources but they were all ones I had to actively pursue. I didn’t see any signs around campus telling us of the time and date like there usually are before a sporting event. I feel like UT could have done a better job promoting this event. I honestly was expecting a bigger turnout then the one we got, but it was still nice seeing some orange in Neyland. Anyway, keep up the good work. Go Vols!

  • hooperNo Gravatar says:

    UT did a very poor job of announcing whether fans were invited to practices/scrimmages throughout the fall. There were times where fans were invited, but the only indication that was ever given was something like a Tweet from Berry about how he wanted everybody to show up.

    It’s actually surprising, considering the attention to detail this staff has shown so far (12:21 start time today to simulate the WKU game, for example). It makes me wonder if there’s something behind the scenes we don’t know about that kept them from being more proactive about it.

    But shoot, all they had to do was email any one of the UT blogs, and we’d have been announcing it all day long.

  • Home Sweet HomeNo Gravatar says:

    @Jim: I agree with your observations…good to know my eyes weren’t fooling me. I got the info through VolQuest. I actually never saw the “letter” in the Beacon, because I gave up reading that thing my freshman year (I’m a senior now). I understand people only get it for the sudoku/crossword but it’s close to being unreadable and they’re always behind on it. I saw it through VolQuest and I went last Saturday too and walked right in. I showed my student ID today, but that’s because I went in the student gate – I think Gate 1 was open to everybody – and there were lots of students there.

    @Hoop: now that I think of it, the staff’s lack of proactivity is a bit surprising. I mean even flyers around campus, or doing something Wednesday (the first day of classes, they didn’t have practice) could have really made it big, although my guess is that there were at least a thousand people there.

    the easy answer is that it’s not their job to promote it and make it big, but two thoughts contradict that: first, Bruce Pearl and second, the USC model – you have to think Pete would have pumped it up if he were in Lane and Company’s shoes.

    • hooperNo Gravatar says:

      I don’t blame the staff so much for the lack of communication on this one. Through this year, they’re still learning how things are handled by the otehr departments in the AD, as well as vice versa. This kind of fan access during fall practice is completely new to the fans and to the UTAD media wing. I just hope they note the disconnect and work out the kinks for the future.

      And if the staff is going to choose between taking time to perfect the on-field product or taking time to perfect the auxiliary functions of the UTAD, they’re absolutely right to choose the former.

      So for now, I can chalk it up to first-time kinks and expect that it’ll be improved later on.

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