Tennessee’s Orange and White Game has turned into more of an event than an actual game. That was the case on Saturday in Neyland Stadium.
The afternoon featured a little more than a half of actual football, one-on-one matchups and a quarterback competition. As the Vols rested their proven players, it was a chance for some lesser names known to step up. However, there was one familiar name that continued to show his penchant for being around the ball.
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Ball Magnet: Todd Kelly Jr., had an interception early in the game on a pass that bounced off of tight end Jason Croom’s chest. Kelly has been involved in a battle for playing time at safety with Micah Abernathy and Rashaan Gaulden. Kelly, however, has the most experience and has proven an innate ability to be around the ball throughout his career. Last year, he led the team in interceptions with three despite limited playing time.
Up-and-at-’em: Quarterback Quinten Dormady completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to junior college transfer Jeff George. It’s exactly what the Vols need from George, who transferred to Tennessee from junior college in January. It was a leaping catch over a defender, which is considered the 6-foot-6 receiver’s specialty. George had four catches for 28 yards. Freshman receiver Preston Williams was also impressive with three catches for 77 yards, including a 39-yard reception from quarterback Joshua Dobbs.
Awarding Play: Williams was selected for the Harvey Robinson Award, which goes to most improved offensive player in spring camp. Defensive tackle Danny O’Brien won the Andy Spiva Award for most improved defensive player. The Peyton Manning Leadership Award went to quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running back Alvin Kamara. The Al Wilson Leadership Award went to cornerback Cameron Sutton and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Sutton and Croom won the John Stucky Award for best mental and physical conditioning.
Injury Report: Offensive lineman Brett Kendrick sustained an ankle sprain, according to coach Butch Jones. Redshirt freshman Darrell Taylor left the field briefly with what looked like a left leg injury but returned in strong fashion. The defensive end returned to beat senior offensive tackle Dontavius Blair on a pass rush drill.
Attendance: The announced attendance was 67,027. That’s the third highest in school history. Four of the five most attended spring games have occurred during Jones’ tenure.
- Dobbs completed a 57-yard pass to Wolf, with the last 25 yards or so coming after the catch. Dobbs finished the game 5-of-9 for 116 yards with the interception on the tipped pass. Dormady completed 10-of-15 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown but was sacked three times.
- Dobbs completed a 22-yard pass to Williams on a fade route into tight coverage. Running back John Kelly finished the drive with 4-yard touchdown run.
- Kelly dropped one screen pass that could have been a big gain. However, he ran strong throughout the game and finished with 65 yards on 15 carries.
- Croom had a nice catch from Dobbs that was behind him for 20 yards over the middle.
- Running back Jalen Hurd had a slashing, 7-yard run that could have gone for more. The referees blew the whistle quickly so Hurd wasn’t tackled to the ground.
Tennessee heads into the summer with one of the most highly anticipated teams in recent memory. Summer workouts will be important, especially for the Vols as they continue to try to improve their passing game. The other goal for the Vols is to be as healthy as possible when preseason camp rolls around.