KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The biggest news out of Saturday’s scrimmage came afterwards, when coach Butch Jones confirmed that Lane was out for “disciplinary reasons.”
Jones did not give a timetable for Lane’s possible return.
After Lane missed a practice last week, Jones said he was dealing with an illness in his family. After he missed practice on Thursday, coaches were more evasive about his status, and today’s announcement by Jones seems to cast doubt on Lane’s future with the team.
A junior from Daytona Beach, Fla., Lane rushed 120 times for 658 yards and caught 29 passes for 228 yards in 2012. He was the leading candidate to win the top running back job this spring.
Those duties will now fall to senior Rajion Neal. Beyond him, the depth is perilously thin. Redshirt freshman Alden Hill, who played well in Saturday’s scrimmage is currently the next option behind Neal.
We’ll have more in Hill in our lengthy notes, which begin NOW….
* Injury watch: WR Jacob Carter is wearing a boot on his right sprained ankle. He did some catching drills, but I wonder if he’ll be able to return to full speed this spring given the size of his boot.
* More injuries: In addition to the spring regulars, WR Paul Harris (hamstring), WR Jason Croom (hamstring), WR Vincent Dallas (not sure, but possible concussion), TE Brendan Downs (unknown) and DL Trevarris Saulsberry (unknown).
CB Riyahd Jones was injured early in the scrimmage and did not return. We’ll get an update on his status next week. UPDATE: Jones posted on Twitter that he was fine.
* Outstanding stretching music: “Tony Montana” by Future and Drake.
* WR Devrin Young seems to be the top option at punt returns right now, and perhaps kickoffs as well. WR Alton “Pig” Howard needs to eliminate the fumbles and get more sure-handed before he’s an option on punts.
Both Howard and Young had to catch five consecutive punts before practice ended. Howard caught two, then muffed two, and it looked like we might be here for a while. But he bounced back to catch the next five.
Young caught five in a row cleanly.
For what it’s worth, we also saw walk-on WR Winston Williams return kickoffs in a non-scout team mode. Jacob Carter, another potential returner, is hurt.
* Howard had a fumble in the offensive session after catching a pass over the middle.
“That’s why we run to the football,” Jones intoned on the mic.
After practice, Jones said he was pleased with the way the defense swarmed to the ball.
* On offense, Devrin Young was destroyed for a huge loss on a reverse (not really his fault) but bounced back after he ran through Geraldo Orta to get into the end zone after a short catch.
* First-string quarterback Justin Worley began the scrimmage with a lengthy run but then fumbled on the next play in what could best be described as a botched run option.
* Alden Hill was the scrimmage hero — which is timely, due to the Marlin Lane storyline. Hill had two big runs with the second team, including one in which he just trucked a walk-on DB. He scored on the next play.
* We saw walk-on WR Spencer Mackle with a nice catch for the second practice in a row. Walk-on Sam Cranford also pulled down a nice catch in traffic.
* Justin Coleman had a phenomenal interception in the end zone on a pass intended for Devrin Young. He broke up a potential touchdown pass not long after that.
* Quarterback Nathan Peterman gift-wrapped an interception for Orta in the end zone. But after a shaky start, he bounced back and had a solid scrimmage.
* Rajion Neal’s biggest play was on a short catch out of the backfield. He juked and made Marlon Walls (I think) miss badly. Neal was able to walk into the end zone.
* TE Justin King had two touchdown catches, one from each quarterback, including a big third down completion.
* The worst stretch for the second-team offense came in a goal-line situation when the scenario was first down from about the 4-yard line. The offense was stuffed on four consecutive plays, including the last two that were inches away from the end zone.
* There were a handful of “all-or-nothing” plays to win the game, and the ball was spotted at roughly the 15, 10 and 5-yard lines.
Howard had two nice scores, including one in which he broke a tackle and then dived across the goal line for a touchdown.
* Zach Fulton was whistled for a false start during one of the possessions, which Jones noted could have cost the Vols the game if they were out of timeouts and had to endure a 10-second clock runoff.
* Walk-on DB David Priddy, a freshman listed at 5-foot-10 who often looks like the smallest player on the field, made a nice pass break-up in the end zone.
* There was a lot of work on field goals. Quick summary: Michael Palardy was money from short distances but struggled from longer range.
Palardy hit a 34 and a 44-yarder before running into trouble. He missed four 46-yard field goals in a row, and Jones was going to keep him out there until he made one. Three of the kicks were wide left. One hit off the crossbar. His final kick was a straight and solid one that split the uprights.
Derrick Brodus hit from 46 and 48, with room to spare on both. George Bullock had plenty of leg on a 46-yarder but then kicked a very low 48-yarder that was easily blocked.
* Butch harped on making smart mental decisions, something that you can read more about in Brendan Quinn’s story later today.
In one scenario, the offense was trying to run out the clock with the lead. Yet Peterman instinctively tried to throw the ball away while under pressure. “Eat it!” Jones yelled. “We’ll take a 3-yard loss.”
Earlier in the scrimmage in a scenario near the goal line, Jones felt Peterman should have thrown the ball away rather than forcing a pass that led to an interception. “We’ve got three points in our back pocket,” he said.
* The practice ended with defensive backs coach Willie Martinez and receivers coach Zach Azzanni fielding punts. Martinez slipped while trying to catch his. Azzanni brought his attempt down cleanly.
* Final score: Offense 97, Defense 89, which I think is about right. The offense scored a bunch of touchdowns, and went through a stretch where they seemed to score easily, but the defense came up with enough stops and big turnovers to keep things interesting.
* There were more LOUD NOISES today. In addition to the car alarms and baby cries from earlier in the week, there were also a grunting pig (for Pig Howard) and what I believe was a swarm of bees.
* We’ll have more later this afternoon on GoVolsXtra.