Butch Jones challenges players on last Tennessee practice before spring break

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee -- Tennessee's sixth football practice -- and the final one before a weeklong spring break -- was just as physical as the last two.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones set the tone during the early stretching session, yelling into the mic, "The soft guys will get exposed!"

Jones was particularly active on the mic today, calling out and challenging players -- sometimes playfully, sometimes not.

"We're fighting for blades of grass today," he said several times.

Here are some notes and observations from the sidelines:

* Players walked onto the practice field by walking over and under hurdles. It sounds weird, but once I load the video, it will make sense. It was an easy task for the little guys, but for defensive tackle Dan Hood, it was an impressive feat of contortion to get under the hurdle.

* Several new musical selections, including "Bombs over Baghdad" by Outkast. (Fun fact: College freshmen were 5 years old when that song came out).

* Wide receiver Paul Harris has lost his No. 1. Maybe he'll get it back eventually, but for now he's No. 91. Based on the tenor of Jones' microphone comments Thursday, he'll have to earn the No. 1.

* Running back Tom Smith wore a non-contact jersey, but defensive back Daniel Gray was back in action after missing one practice.

* We saw the running back pass-blocking drills during practice. No one necessarily stood out, but redshirt freshman Alden Hill had a real rough go of it. Marlin Lane spent some time coaching him on the sideline. To Hill's credit, he jumped right back in the mix after a few misses and fought hard.

* At the end of a brief scrimmage session, Jones abruptly called for the field goal unit. He started counting down from 20. "Twenty, nineteen, eighteen -- managers get in place! -- seventeen..."

I thought there was no chance in the world the kicking team could get in place in time, but they did. They were lined up, ready to go, but got the snap off just milliseconds after Jones called out zero.

"We lost the game!" he yelled.

* Kicker Michael Palardy hit four field goals in a row, which Jones announced to the practice field in order to add pressure for his fifth attempt.

"Uh-oh, it's on the left hash now, Palardy," Jones said.

Palardy nailed it. We only see a small portion of the kicks in practice, but it seems like he's been having a good spring,

* More good linebacker tackling drills. We got some of it on video. My favorite part was when linebacker A.J. Johnson demanded to go against running back Rajion Neal. I couldn't say who won. Perhaps a draw.

The success of the linebackers in this drill often depended on who they were matched up against. The running backs were better at eluding tacklers, while the big tight ends just ran full speed ahead.

* Defensive backs coach Willie Martinez is always fun to watch in practice. In a drill involving a tackling dummy, he yelled, "I want more realism!"

The only DB who really got kudos in the drill we watched was redshirt freshman LaDarrell McNeil.

* Tennessee AD Dave Hart came down the elevator to watch some practice Thursday.

Hart came to Knoxville from Alabama, where longtime AD Mal Moore recently resigned. Hart said Wednesday that he had no interest in the job. In an unexpected twist, Alabama hired former UT head coach Bill Battle.

Battle coached the Vols from 1970-1976. He is also an Alabama grad.

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    Evan Woodbery on Tennessee football.

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