Monthly Archives: August 2013

Tennessee football: Preparing for Austin Peay (videos)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s season opener against Austin Peay is only 48 hours away and the first week of in-season practice is coming to a close.

The video above, shot Wednesday, has a look at defensive backs coach Willie Martinez in action.

Good news! We’ve won our legal battle against Rich Homie Quan and his team of attorneys and our video from Tuesday (which had been flagged for copyright violations) is now back online. You can view it below.

As always, watch the videos in your highest available HD settings for best results.

Fans snapping up $20 flex tickets; more than 90,000 sold for Austin Peay opener

Butch Jones

Butch Jones demonstrates a point during a special teams drill on Aug. 28, 2013 at Haslam Field in Knoxville. (Photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Dynamically priced tickets — which can fluctuate throughout the season based on market demand — have helped drive the Vols over 90,000 tickets sold for Saturday’s opener against Austin Peay.

The Vols have sold about 5,800 of the 6,700 south end zone seats allotted for flex pricing, senior associate athletic director Chris Fuller said. Some of the sales have been to groups.

The tickets, which are limited to the highest rows of the upper deck, are priced at $20 each for this game. Other games are priced considerably higher, but the cost could fluctuate over the coming weeks.

Fuller said the Vols have sold about 58,000 season tickets, down from 59,700 a year ago.

The Vols drew an announced crowd of 87,821 in last year’s home opener against Georgia State. Fuller said just over 90,000 have been sold so far for the Austin Peay game, which is Butch Jones’ first as UT head coach.

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Tennessee football: Vols practice Tuesday leading up to Austin Peay game

Justin Worley, Mike Bajakian

Quarterback Justin Worley takes a snap in practice on Aug. 27, 2013, as offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian looks on. (Photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — When Justin Worley worked with the first team during Tuesday’s practice, we no longer had to get our notepads and jot down the observation.

Worley is officially the starting quarterback.

Backup Nathan Peterman will be among many players we talk to after practice wraps up this evening. Check back for notes, quotes, stories, videos and photos later Tuesday night and into Wednesday evening.

* Before practice, Butch Jones told his team about a walk-on who had taken out three loans and was $30,000 in debt in order to play football. He contrasted that with certain unnamed scholarship players who “just show up.”

* There were a few roster additions late last week. Most of the new walk-ons are covered in my blog post about the updated roster earlier today. But there was one new walk-on I missed. Defensive back Michael L. Williams of Knoxville’s Bearden High rejoined the team. He was previously a walk-on in the spring.

This complicates things because there’s another walk-on defensive back named Michael Williams — Michael F. Williams from Maryland.

When Michael L. departed, Michael F. reverted to just plain old Michael. Now he’s back to Michael F.

For what it’s worth, Michael F. was still wearing a green non-contact jersey and working on the sidelines on Tuesday.

* Other players in the Hole include kicker George Bullock, defensive end Jacques Smith and receiver Ryan Jenkins.

* Receiver Paul Harris had a massive bandage on his forehead but otherwise looked OK.

Rich Homie Quan is a popular pre-practice selection. His hit song “Type of Way” contains the lines: “I probably make more money in six months/Than what’s in your papa’s safe/Look like I robbed a bank.”

Coincidentally, a bank on UT’s campus was robbed earlier this afternoon. Quan is not a suspect.

Tennessee football depth chart: A position-by-position glance at the Vols’ depth

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s new depth chart released on Monday didn’t reveal any major surprises, but it did show the Vols’ depth issues with more vivid clarity.

The receiver spot, for example, may lack SEC talent or experience. But it doesn’t lack in numbers. The defensive tackle position has SEC-level talent, but worrisome depth. The cornerback spot? Well, some fear it has all the above.

The chart above is my best interpretation of Tennessee’s complete depth chart, listing every player on the roster. (Some late-arriving walk-ons are not yet listed, as they have not been officially added to the roster. That could happen as soon as today).

A few things I found interesting…

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Tennessee in 2013: My official predictions, game by game

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — It’s football week, which means it’s also time for me to make my annual predictions.

If it’s any consolation, my predictions are almost always wrong.

I can’t actually find my prediction from last year, but I’m pretty sure I picked 7-5. So I was off by two games.

But if you want to see some really bad picks, go back to my days covering Auburn. I thought the 2012 team would be good. I even wrote at one point that they would rebound to national contention after a rebuilding year in 2011. The Tigers went 3-9. Oops.

I think predictions for this year’s Tennessee team are a bit easier. Why? The difference between the Vols’ likely floor and ceiling is very small.

Barring disaster, UT should win at least four games. Unless, there’s a huge upset, the Vols won’t win more than seven. That leaves only a little wiggle room in the middle. And it’s why the “consensus” expectation for the season is 5-7, 6-6 or 7-5.

I went with 6-6, and you’ll see why below.  Please note that I estimated both the line and the likelihood of winning. It’s purely speculative. I have not taken them from any source other than my own hastily determined opinion.

If you think any of the odds are out of whack, let me know.

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The News Sentinel’s new subscription plan: Now activating

extry-extryKNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Already a print subscriber to the News Sentinel?

Take 30 seconds this morning to activate your premium account here. The premium account gives you access to all the News Sentinel’s coverage on any platform.

I just activated my premium account, and it was a breeze.

Not a print subscriber? Click here to sign up for a digital-only plan or a premium subscription that includes home delivery.

If you’d like to read more about the paper’s decision to switch to a subscription plan, read a letter from editor Jack McElroy.

What if you’re an avid reader but aren’t in a position to subscribe just yet? Some stories will remain free, and many stories will be free for a limited time before they are available only for subscribers. Following me on the various social media networks listed below is still a good way to keep up to date on Tennessee news. I’ll always let you know  whether links to content are free or available only to premium subscribers ($).

For now, at least, there will be no changes to this blog. Consider signing up to receive e-mail notifications when the blog is updated. Just use the module on the right side of this page.

UPDATE: I fixed the links! Sorry about that.

Tennessee football practice: Highlights from Thursday’s ‘grueling’ session (video)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The Vols will go behind closed doors this weekend for their final preparations before the start of game week.

Tennessee plans to conduct a “mock game” Friday at Neyland Stadium. The weekly game-week press conference is Monday, which is when we expect to see a final depth chart released.

Thursday’s practice lasted nearly three hours. Read about it here and here. The highlights above are from the last open practice before game week on Thursday night. Watch in your highest available HD settings for best results.

Tennessee football practice: Vols return after a 2-day break

Tennessee running backs coach Robert Gillespie at practice on Aug. 22, 2013. (Photo by Evan Woodbery)

Tennessee running backs coach Robert Gillespie at practice on Aug. 22, 2013. (Photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — After 48 hours away from the practice fields, players returned on Thursday to higher expectations from coach Butch Jones.

“Nice and fresh!” he yelled. “You oughtta be nice and fresh.”

We’ll find out later if Jones noticed any rejuvenation. For now, here are some post-practice notes:

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Tennessee’s 2014 football schedule: A closer look

Butch Jones

Butch Jones talks to special teams players during practice on Aug. 16, 2013, at Haslam Field.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s 2014 football schedule may be a tad easier than this year’s slate, but that’s only by the cutthroat standards of the SEC.

The Vols now have Florida and Alabama at home, not on the road.

A trip to Oregon is replaced by a trip to Oklahoma.

The full schedule was released Wednesday by UT and the league office.

Here’s a closer look:

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Tennessee 2014 recruiting: A look at the Vols’ needs after some additions and subtractions

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The Vols have added an elite defensive lineman since we last took a big-picture view of their 2014 recruiting efforts.

The verbal commitment of DaVonte Lambert gives UT a highly rated player at a position of need (defensive line). Plus, he’ll come in with two years of junior college seasoning and thus be more likely to play right away.

UT also lost two players when veterans Naz Oliver, a defensive back, and Channing Fugate, a linebacker, decided to move on.

Fugate has landed back in his home state at Eastern Kentucky. Because both players are seniors, their departure doesn’t affect the 2014 recruiting calculus in any way.

With about five spots left, the Vols have essentially met all their needs except for the offensive line.

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Remember the projected numbers at each position aren’t written in stone and are merely estimates of what the average SEC team might want. Teams could easily get away with fewer than 14 offensive lineman, as that’s a developmental position and not one in which players start from Day 1. However, there are only 85 scholarship spots to play with. And if UT coaches would like to have, say, 15 receivers, as I believe they do, those numbers must be deducted somewhere else.

Finally, remember that coaches have a better handle on future attrition than we do. So their recruiting aims often prepare for inevitable departures that have yet to occur.

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