KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Release) - Under sunshine at Neyland Stadium, the building of Team 117 continued with a scrimmage on Saturday. Prior to the ninth practice of spring for the Vols, the team welcomed hundreds of UT faculty members to Neyland for a breakfast and tour the facilities.
Inside the Peyton Manning Locker Room, Butch Jones addressed the professors about the importance of teaching and education while putting the emphasis on the student in student-athlete with his teams.
On the field after the gathering, Jones was teaching the Vols, about the finer points of football.
"I thought it was a tremendous teaching opportunity with all the different situations," he said after Saturday's scrimmage. "We really have a lot of things to teach in terms of situational football. That is so much a part of it, the intelligence factor that really goes into playing football."
The defense dominated the action between the white lines on Saturday, which pleased Jones in one sense, but also bothered him from the offensive perspective.
"It is different when you are the head coach because obviously you want the defense to do well and you want the offense to do as well," said Jones. "I think we are taking strides defensively, which is the mental energy and the intensity that we need. I will know more when I go an access the film.
"Offensively, I am not pleased at all. I didn't think we were physical at the line of scrimmage. I was disappointed in the way our offensive line came off the football. I was disappointed with our running backs and obviously our receivers have a long way to go.
"To finish out the last portion of spring our offense needs to step up, somebody needs to take ownership. And defensively the same thing but I liked the way they flew around."
NO FLY ZONE
The trash talk started Friday night as senior defensive back Byron Moore called out offensive coaches Zach Azzanni and Mark Elder on twitter, explaining to them that Saturday would be a no fly zone for the receivers and tight ends at Neyland.
Azzanni and Elder fired back and the Vols wide receivers got in on the ribbing, but the defense went out and did what Moore promised and won Saturday's scrimmage.
"I expect it to be like this every day," said Moore. "To come out with that mentality that the defense is going to set the offense and give our best against them because they are going to give their best."
Defensive lineman Daniel Hood believed that this practice was the best the defense has had this spring.
"Yeah it looked like it," said Hood. "We have some tendencies we need to fine down but from an energy and effort standpoint, I thought it was a lot better today. We had a lot of three-and-outs today and even though when we made mistakes; we had someone making up for us."
Saturday was not a fluke for the defense, since returning to campus from spring break, the D has been preparing hard for today.
"It has started in our meeting rooms all week," explained Moore. "I think we have been having good quality meeting time with the coaches. Everyone is in sync with the game plan and the calls. There is not a lot of thinking going on. When there is not a lot of thinking going on it allows us to play fast and that is the big thing right now. Everybody is flying around with no hesitation. The guys are just reading the plays and just making them."
The defense will return to the orange jersey's Tuesday at practice, and according to Hood, today's scrimmage will be a big boost of confidence for the Orange Swarm.
"It was incredible just to be a part of it," said Hood. "We could almost sense it this morning when we came in. I saw A.J., we were joking around, had energy and intensity before we even got our pads on. We knew it was going to be a good day, and we came out and played like it."
HANDICAPPING THE QUARTERBACKING
Quarterbacks Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman continue to see the lion's share of action under center as spring practice progresses. But neither has established themselves as the early front runner as spring wraps up in two weeks.
Head coach Butch Jones has been up front about not knowing when he will name a starting signal caller for the 2013 opener vs. Austin Peay on Aug. 31.
"We are earning that depth chart every single day," said Jones. "They better have a sense of urgency. If they don't, they should have it after today and I can promise you they will have it on Monday. They do, they understand the importance and they are all prideful. They are extremely competitive."
Worley admitted he wasn't pleased with his performance on Saturday.
"I was a little disappointed," said the junior. "We came out strong and really executed in some of the situations well, but towards the end we fell off. The defense had a lot of energy and we could not really respond. I have to go watch the film but Coach (Mike Bajakian) always says, 'it is never as good as you think it was and never as bad as you think it was.' Hopefully that is the case and we definitely have some things to approve on."
Peterman praised to the defense as well.
"We give credit to our defense and love it when they make plays as a team, but you don't love it as an offense," said the redshirt QB. "We're going to get better from it. We didn't think we had our best practice and we weren't perfect today as always, so we got to get better."
After two-thirds of spring ball, the competition is relatively even according to the Vols.
"They both bring different things to the table," said receiver Cody Blanc. "I think everybody knows that Nathan (Peterman) is a little bit more mobile than (Justin) Worley. The competition has been good. I've been with both of them, and to me, it's about even."
"Somebody is going to have to step up and play offense here come the first game against Austin Peay,"said Jones.