Tag Archives: Byron Moore

Tennessee football position preview: Defensive backs will face fresh competition for jobs

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The eighth in a series of position-by-position reviews of the Tennessee football team with an eye toward the start of spring practice in March.

Justin Coleman warms up before the Kentucky game (photos by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee is returning all of its starters and more than 90 percent of its snaps at defensive back in 2014, which might normally be construed as good news.

But as the Vols’ defense has struggled at times over the last two years, the defensive backs have taken a heavy load of the blame.

While not all that criticism was fair, Tennessee’s lack of speed and depth were factors at times in 2013. That should ensure that no one’s job is safe in 2014.

Well, almost no one.

Cameron Sutton, who played a team-high 746 snaps on defense as a true freshman in 2013, can probably be safely penciled in as one of the cornerbacks.

Justin Coleman could be an option to shift to nickel if the Vols’ can find another Sutton waiting to blossom among their crop of new players.

Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil could also face added competition. At the very least, all the starters should have backups that coaches feel more comfortable giving playing time.

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GVX Reporter’s Notebook: Vols physical in Tuesday practice (with video)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones delivered on his promise of a physical practice on Tuesday — at least in the brief viewing period open to the media.

The Vols (4-5, 1-4 SEC) play No. 7 Auburn (8-1, 4-1) on Saturday at Neyland Stadium (TV: ESPN, noon).

Tennessee lost to Missouri 31-3 last week and Jones said the Vols were dominated on both lines of scrimmage.

Jones referred to the offensive line as “Club 90” on Tuesday for the number of rushing yards Tennessee managed at Mizzou.

He interrupted the pre-practice stretch — “Listen, we don’t need no elaborate stretch!” — for his Circle of Life drills, which are essentially one-on-one blocking competitions in front of the entire team.

“Everybody wants in (to the Circle) until you’re hit in the mouth,” Jones said.

We’d need another two or three entries for all the players who got called out as soft today. But his banter with running back Marlin Lane was most humorous.

After criticizing his weight room efforts, Jones asked running backs coach Robert Gillespie, “Robert, why do you have bigger traps (trapezoid muscles) than your running backs?”

Another line to Lane, a Daytona Beach, Fla., native: “We’re working on a trade to Bethune-Cookman.”

How much actual hitting took place after we left is unclear, but give Jones credit for advancing the storyline effectively while we were there.

* The only players in green non-contact jerseys Tuesday were true freshman tight end A.J. Branisel and safety Brian Randolph. Both players have been wearing green for weeks and still playing in games. Safeties Byron Moore and LaDarrell McNeil and cornerback Justin Coleman were all in orange.

* Lot of good music today, including B.o.B., 2Chainz and apparently unedited Young Jeezy. Song of the day, however, was “Tha Block is Hot” (feat. Juvenile and B.G.), which was on Lil’ Wayne’s debut album in 1999.

Tennessee practice wrap: Butch Jones goes to 11-on-11 work to ‘jump start’ practice

Dylan Wiesman

Tennessee freshman offensive lineman Dylan Wiesman stretches before practice on Aug. 5, 2013, at Haslam Field in Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — With fatigue setting in on players going through their fourth consecutive day of practice, Tennessee coach Butch Jones decided to throw out the normal script and launch right into 11-on-11 team work.

“I knew I needed to do something to jump-start practice and get their juices flowing, so to speak,” Jones said after Monday evening’s session.

(You can read some of our initial observations here).

Repeating a consistent theme, Jones said he’ll be watching to see which players have a “sense of urgency” as camp goes on.

“The hour glass has turned over,” he said. “Time is critical.”

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Tennessee football practice: Quick review of Monday’s session

Don Mahoney, Tennessee

Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney instructs players during practice at Haslam Field on Aug. 5, 2013, in Knoxville. (Photos by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee did some team work in the early session of Monday afternoon’s practice. The brief window offered few concrete details, but did reinforce how difficult it is for freshmen quarterbacks to win a starting job in August.

We’ll have more after we talk to coach Butch Jones and players later this evening.

* Among the notable plays from our view of the team work was a bad snap by third-string center Dylan Wiesman, a freshman, that sent quarterback Riley Ferguson scrambling after the ball.

Ferguson later threw an interception right in the numbers of safety Tino Thomas.

Co-third-team quarterback Josh Dobbs didn’t fare better, as he dropped a snap that hit off his hands in the last play we saw of the team drills before we had to leave for the evening.

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Tennessee football practice quick hits: Shells on and intensity heats up

Alex Ellis, Tennessee

Tennessee tight end Alex Ellis looks in a pass from the JUGS gun during a practice drill on Aug. 4, 2013 at Haslam Field in Knoxville. (Photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee players wore shells (shoulder pads and helmets) for their third practice on Sunday, so while full-pad hitting is still a couple of days away, there was room for a little more contact.

We’ll talk to players and coach Butch Jones when practice ends this evening. For now, here are some quick observations from the media viewing period.

* The first of several one-on-one competitions at midfield featured running back Alden Hill against linebacker Kenny Bynum. Because these scrums are surrounded by a wall of players, we didn’t see who won.

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Tennessee practice wrap: Butch Jones says Vols answered call on 2nd day


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones was critical of his team’s intensity after Friday’s camp opener, but he was much more upbeat Saturday night — even if his lost voice still hadn’t returned.

“Today was very productive,” he said. “This group is extremely prideful.”

Jones singled out the freshmen wide receivers for praise, saying the group had “improved our football team” from the spring.

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