Talking Points: good news and bad news springs eternal

Joe Robbins

Reports following Saturday's scrimmage brings Vols fans both good news and bad news, depending on your perspective.

The official word is that the Volunteer offense beat the defense in Saturday's scrimmage. This was apparently a result of the defense "fading" down the stretch, although that article leads with the fact that the defense forced turnovers on four of five possessions, which sure sounds good for the defense and not so good for the offense. Such is spring.

But the offense did apparently find its legs later in the situational scrimmage:

Lining up for "game-winning play" from the 15-yard line, quarterback Justin Worley dropped back and whistled a pass to tight end Alex Ellis near the goal line. A pass interference call gave the offense life. Wideout Pig Howard reeled in a Worley touchdown pass on the left sideline to capitalize.

Heads seemed to raise on the offensive sideline.

On the next play, in a similar situation, but from the 9-yard line, Howard caught a screen pass. He juked and dove for another touchdown.

The sideline began to bounce.

In came the second-team offense, led by redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Peterman. A touchdown pass to wideout Cody Blanc across the middle was followed by another touchdown pass to wide receiver Drae Bowles in the back corner of the end zone.

Well, that certainly sounds good for the offense and not so good for the defense. And this, considering that two practically brand new quarterbacks are trying to learn a new system under yet another set of brand new coaches while throwing to a group of constantly changing brand new receivers. Not to mention that they might not be able to lean on the running game because last year's most productive running back appears to be in serious jeopardy. The official word now is that Marlin Lane is not practicing due to unspecified "disciplinary reasons." I do hope Marlin returns to the team and stays there, but I also hope he doesn't steal reps from others like Janzen Jackson and Da'Rick Rogers did only to throw away their second chances and get finally booted right before the season starts.

Anyway, enter backup RB Alden Hill, who is hungry, hungry, hungry, and who actually made some positive noise during the scrimmage. And the fact that the players had a players only meeting -- something you generally only see as a desperate measure foreshadowing someone getting fired -- just because the leaders started to see teammates starting to lose the edge with which they started spring practice, is a good sign that standards have changed and accountability and responsibility are beginning to grow.

But yes, it is still a mixed bag so far this spring:

Bad news: The defensive backfield is likely to include the same personnel it did last year.

Good news: Those same guys are playing under what has to be a better coach and situation, and they are making some plays.

Good news: Michael Palardy got off to a strong start in the scrimmage.

Bad news: He later missed five field attempts in a row from the 45 before hitting his sixth.

Bad news: Alton Pig Howard muffed his first two attempts at catching punts as pig squeals blared through the sound system.

Good news: He then caught five in a row, and Devrin Young caught his first five in a row, which was the goal. Baby steps, y'all.

All of this is to be somewhat expected in the spring for a program that is building practically from the ground up. #brickbybrick

Etceteras. Jordan McRae is going to return for his senior season. Paging Jarnell Stokes. . . . Brad has everything you want to know about Tennessee's latest commitment, Lawrence Lee.

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