- Tennessee held the first spring practice of the Kiffin Chimera Era, and the center head was pleased. The QBs completed 78 and 75 percent of their passes. They fumbled no snaps. There were only two false starts and only two dropped passes. There was only one offside call. Not bad for the knocking the rust off mode.
- Depth Chart? There is no depth chart. Do you pump gas for a living or something? Lane says the competition is open this spring, and he means it. The depth chart right now consists of one name -- Eric Berry -- and will be filled in as spring practice progresses. The man has a point: "All we've gotten to see them do is run around some cones, so I don't have an idea at all about our talent on offense. But I'm okay with that. If you start judging everything off of the way guys run in shorts – without pads on and without a ball – that's the reason you get messed-up depth charts. That's why we're not making one right now. If we were to make one right now it'd be based off of stuff that really isn't football." Hmm, I'll take "Stuff That Really Isn't Football" for $1,000, Alex, and my first answer is "2008." Sorry!
2008? What 2008? Never happened. The offense is getting a fresh start, clean slate, expunged record, and will be judged not on what offenses they committed last season but on what they do this spring. That has to be good news for some of these guys. Again, Eric Berry is exempt, but you know.
- Green jerseys? There are no green jerseys. What, are you some sort of sissy? "We're not good enough" for green jerseys, says Lane. Not sure whether that means the chimera isn't good enough at evaluating talent to do it on cone-running alone (which would make it sarcasm) or whether the players aren't tough enough yet, but either way, I like it.
Practice? We talkin' 'bout practice? Demetrice Morley is off to a grand start, having been held out of the first practice because he was late for a meeting. Nice, Mr. Morley. Don't blow this second chance. He'd better be at practice early on Friday because it's open to the public and only the first 10,000 are getting in.
- Throw the football? Who needs to throw the football? Nick Stephens is making the most of his broken wrist by committing to spending more time in the film room getting those mental reps.
0000000000000000000000000000000000000000. Yeah, that there's a "google" without the commas, and Eric Berry says it's a fair representation of his new defensive coordinator, calling Monte Kiffin the "Google of Defense." Ask him a question, and he returns the best answers at the top in .14 seconds. With contextual ads!
Coaching? Overrated. Teaching? Underrated. So says
coachsensei Lance Thompson, which suggests a new attention to detail.
Smack talk? Bring it! Eric Berry says that Lane's jabs at other coaches and schools gets the players amped up and makes them want to work harder for him. Which comes first, the confidence or the winning? Whichever is on the calendar first.
- Mature audiences only. Strip consistently. Dave Hooker's (heh, that's a bonus there) practice observations include (1) teaching defensive players to devote themselves to stripping the ball and otherwise creating turnovers; (2) noting that Gerald Jones is still searching for consistency, making remarkable plays on one snap and dropping a perfect pass on the next; and (3) remarking that if Brent Vinson's maturity level ever reaches his talent level, he'll be an excellent football player, as he made the play of the day, a "sensational interception, rising over Jones and ripping the ball away."
- Bruce Pearl is focusing on the positives this week, but also driving teaching points home in the process:
Guard Scotty Hopson highlighted Tuesday’s work with a thunderous slam dunk over fellow freshman Phillip Jurick. The starters erupted with joy and good-natured ribbing as Hopson hurdled the 6-foot-11 center from East Ridge.
Even seldom-used freshman wing Renaldo Woolridge joined the fun, telling Jurick, "I’m never going to forget this."
Pearl laughingly proved a point, though, whistling three starters for technical fouls and awarding son Steven Pearl six free-throw attempts. Steven made five, briefly tying the score.
- Tyler Smith is one of five unanimous choices for first-team All-SEC, and although Tyler won't say it, Bruce Pearl will: this time around, it was much more difficult for Tyler, as he was the first option instead of the third like last year, and he was always working in gridlock.
- The Vols finished ahead of Kentucky in the regular-season standings for the fourth consecutive season, which hasn't happened for any other team since 1933. Now if we could only figure out how to consistently beat them during games . . . .