By Vince Ferrara
Here are some of my observations and notes from the 2017 Dish Orange & White Spring Game.
*My literal “view” was from the press box, high in the clouds at Neyland Stadium, from the Vol Network booth contributing to the broadcast and spotting for the voice of the Vols, Bob Kesling.
*22 players were held out due to either injury or precaution. They were:
RB John Kelly
WR Josh Smith
WR Brandon Johnson
OL Chance Hall
OL Brett Kendrick
OL Coleman Thomas
OL Jack Jones
OL Venzell Boulware
OL Devante Brooks
DT Shy Tuttle
DT Kendal Vickers
DT Kahlil McKenzie
DE Kyle Phillips
DE Jonathan Kongbo
LB Quarte Sapp
LB Elliott Berry
LB Colton Jumper
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
CB Emmanuel Moseley
NB/S Rashaan Gaulden
S/KR Evan Berry
S Micah Abernathy
*We obviously didn’t get to see as much of the team in 11-on-11 settings running plays or in one-on-one competition drills because of severe weather that approached led to the cancelling of the 2nd half of the event.
*The biggest draw and curiosity all spring and going for the game was the quarterback competition. Junior Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano delivered with encouraging results. Both quarterbacks played well overall.
*Dormady seemed to be most in-control and on-time in his drop backs and the results were there as well. Dormady was 10-of-10 for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Both his 1-yard TD pass on a back shoulder throw to Jennings and his 19-yard TD pass hitting Eli Wolf in-stride were perfectly executed. Dormady carried himself like he belonged.
*Guarantano was a little off in his timing in the pocket, He was a little late on a couple of throws, one of which was nearly intercepted. He also held on to the ball too long and was sacked twice. There was no tackling of the quarterbacks so those were just touch sacks.
*It should be pointed out that I don’t think Guarantano could fully show what he might be able to in a game situation with the game rules. He wasn’t able to show his escapability because of the touch rule, and there was no QB run game, so he wasn’t able to display his athleticism and running ability that many of believe he has. Dormady has some of those skills as well, but Guarantano may be on another level with his legs.
*Dormady won the QB Skills Challenge as well, including the first-ever (in all the many years of doing that) pass dropped into the bucket by a quarterback according to Tim Priest of the Vol Network. Guarantano was whistling throws with tremendous velocity in the QB skills challenge. Freshman QB Will McBride threw it well in this as well. At the end, they set-up a target with a Jauan Jennings cut-out target for the quarterbacks to reenact the Hail Mary throw to win at Georgia last season and try to reach. You knew Butch had a different surprise up his sleeve. That tricky UT program caretaker.
*Both Dormady and Guarantano handled the postgame interviews smoothly as usual. Dormady did reference the competition between him and Guarantano, which was nice for someone to admit. We all know those are the only two quarterbacks competing for the starting job even though those two haven’t been singled out. They evenly split the first and second team series with Dormady getting the first series with the ones followed by Guarantano.
*None of the quarterbacks threw deep pass routes. Most were short to intermediate routes.
*RB Carlin Fils-aime’s best run was when he bounced outside with nice speed for a 9-yard run. At 175, even though he ran hard, he was not able to break many tackles running inside against far less competition than he would face in SEC games. It was all walk-ons after Fils-aime. Incoming freshman Ty Chandler will step in and compete for that second running back spot behind starter John Kelly.
*DE Darrell Taylor is a very important player for UT’s defense looking to replace sacks and snaps from Derek Barnett, Corey Vereen and LaTroy Lewis at defensive end. Taylor was credited with two sacks. He also had several unofficial QB pressures. He and LB Daniel Bituli were the most active players on the front seven for the Vols.
*The 1st team offensive line was as follows:
LT – Drew Richmond (Jr)
LG – Ryan Johnson (R-Fr)
C – Jashon Robertson (Sr)
RG – Trey Smith (Fr)
RT – Marcus Tatum (So)
There’s a chance that only Richmond at LT will be what you see in the opener. I’m confident that Robertson and Smith will start, but they could be at LG and RT respectively. UT certainly has options when fully healthy. I thought Smith, Richmond and Robertson played well, overall.
*The 2nd team offensive line was as follows:
LT – Nathan Niehaus (R-Fr)
LG – Tommy Sprague (R-Fr walk-on)
C – Brian Garvey (R-Fr walk-on)
RG – Riley Locklear (Fr)
RT – Joe Keeler (R-So walk-on)
*There’s no reason why PK Aaron Medley, entering his senior year after three years as UT’s kicker, should miss a 35-yard FG in a spring game with no rush. He’s an area of concern for this football team. He’s 0-for-5 from 50+ yards. 47 yards is the longest of his career. He’s 9-of-25 from 40+ yards in three seasons. Butch Jones has passed on long field goal attempts because of the lack of trust in him factoring in. We’ll see if incoming freshman scholarship placekicker Brent Cimaglia can provide some legit competition this summer and fall.
*Holder Holden Foster has apparently been working at kicker because he attempted and made the PAT on the second Vols TD.
Spend some time on our website where we’ll have blogs from Jimmy Hyams, practice reports from Josh Ward, interviews with players and coaches, videos of practice footage. Scroll through our big stories on the main page or click on the Vols tab under “All WNML stories” archived to find all of our posts saved there.