Tennessee spring football practice moves indoors: What we saw Tuesday morning

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee moved inside for the second spring practice of the season Tuesday morning.

The rain had stopped by the time practice began at 8:20 a.m., but coaches probably didn’t want to tear up the grass this early in the season.

So instead of chilly outdoor practice, it was a hot, stuffy indoor session.

Here’s what we saw:

* First things first: There was a new playlist for the Vols today. Gone were 1970s and ’80s rock hits. The first two songs played today were by Drake and Young Jeezy, artists much more likely to be on the iPod of players than coaches.

* There were several new numbers for walk-ons, but none of consequence. We will update our roster accordingly later today.

* The “black and blue” drill is definitely a ball-security drill, and it seems like a staple of practice. Every position group worked on “scoop and score” today, and you could hear cries of “Chin it!” throughout the building.

* Butch Jones walked around from drill to drill again today. Some of the younger players, already jittery early in the season, didn’t do well with Jones looking over the shoulder.

When Jones walked away from a simple quarterback handoff drill, offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian stepped in and told the players, “RELAX!”

* I watched a lot of receivers today, because that was the most interesting thing going on. Coach Zach Azzanni has his hands full with his very young group.

* Poor freshman Paul Harris is taking the brunt of Azzanni’s coaching. That’s the disadvantage of coming in early. There’s nowhere to hide, and there aren’t plenty of other freshmen around who are just as lost as you are. The good news for Harris: He’s getting all this attention because Azzanni needs him in 2013.

* As far as players who just look like they know what they’re doing in receiver drills, veteran Jacob Carter has been running sharp routes and catching balls. Once we moved to some live action with defensive backs, however, Alton “Pig” Howard and Vincent Dallas really stood out.

Howard beat Eric Gordon one-on-one for a “touchdown” (it wasn’t a live drill, but he did reach the end zone) and caught a pass against Brian Randolph on another play.

New receiver Devrin Young caught a long ball when Randolph slipped.

The most impressive defender? In the very limited action we saw (and I can’t stress that enough), it was clearly juco cornerback Riyahd Jones. He had two really nice pass-breakups. Then receiver Cody Blanc had a long ball in the corner of the end zone (it was a great pass, but I’m not sure who threw it) that Jones ripped away at the last second.

* Unfortunately, I was paying more attention to the receivers and DBs than the quarterbacks, so I couldn’t tell you who was throwing better. They were changing so rapidly that it was difficult to keep tabs on every position.

* There was a much smaller crowd on the sidelines today, probably because it was an early weekday morning and the weather was nasty.

* Tennessee practices again Thursday morning and is tentatively set for a “situational scrimmage” on Saturday.

We’ll have more coverage of today’s practice, including comments from coaches and players and plenty of video, coming later on GoVolsXtra.com.

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