KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A day after telling the reporters Tennessee would “fast stretch” in an effort to solve the Volunteers recent slow starts, the media got a first-hand look at exactly what Butch Jones was talking about.
The result was … hardly noticeable.
Tennessee wasn’t anymore juiced than usual Tuesday, as the media was allowed to view just two short sessions. The typical viewing periods included the aforementioned stretching (with players and coaches hollering about “starting fast” but the pace being no different than normal), special teams work and some individual drills.
Jones did trick many Vols players with a “sudden change” drill a bit later, getting the team to quickly line up for an 11-on-11 session before blowing the horn and announcing a different drill. Some players were not pleased.
In an effort to jumpstart the team for Saturday’s noon kickoff against Ohio, Jones once again started practice with the “Circle of Life” drills.
JUCO-defensive tackle Alexis Johnson, who Jones says still needs a lot of conditioning work, was forced to go four straight times to open the action. Johnson went first against Venzell Boulware, then Ryan Johnson before a pair of showdowns with Austin Sanders.
Afterward, a number of other closed battles ensued …
Freshman safety Nigel Warrior vs. freshman wideout Marquez Callaway.
Sophomore safety Stephen Griffin vs. sophomore receiver Preston Williams.
Freshman cornerback Baylen Buchanan vs. an unidentified foe.
The media is not allowed to report who wasn’t at practice, but senior cornerback Cam Sutton took the first-team reps at kick returner on Tuesday.
The usual suspects were in green, non-contact jerseys: tailback Jalen Hurd, receivers Preston Williams, Josh Smith and Jauan Jennings and defensive end Austin Smith.
Meanwhile, starting center Coleman Thomas, who was briefly benched against Virginia Tech before being reinserted into the lineup at two positions, had his right ankle heavily taped and appeared limited during individual drills.
We did not see any reps at linebacker for clues on the possible replacement for injured linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr.