"You never know what you're going to get."
Those words of wisdom are from Forrest Gump's mama. I know the last half of that quote is correct. I may have messed up the first half—let me check the tape to be sure.
Checking the tape is what the Tennessee coaches say they do when asked about the team's performance in an open scrimmage. "We'll have to look at the tape and then we'll know," they always say.
Believe me, if the coaches at this level don't know what they've seen right after a scrimmage, us desk-bound, key-punching heroes ain't got a clue.
Forget the live scrimmage. The film room, that's where the real stories are! Too bad they threw me out when I tried that approach.
Though all the film hasn't yet been dissected, here are some things we know for sure. These nuggets are a combination of camp news and scrimmage footage.
The line backing group is the strength of the Vol defense going into 2012. Super impressive youngsters Curt Maggit and A.J. Johnson continue to make plays.
Reporters receive good snippets of news from coach Derek Dooley every time he speaks in public about them. He also had good words for returning senior inside linebacker Herman Lathers, when speaking with reporters on Friday.
In his recorded interview posted on the Vols website, UTSports.com, Dooley did bring up his concerns about depth at inside linebacker and the tight end positions. Both are real areas for concern should the Vols suffer an injury at either position.
Coach Dooley also stressed to the gathered reporters that it isn't wise to read too much into the statistics of these "situational scrimmages". The idea is to mimic real game-time situations—which is very helpful in having players ready—but the sequence of events makes the statistics that are generated highly suspect.
So, stats nuts—you have been warned.
Another news worthy item concerns backup quarterback Justin Worley, a sophomore. He was inserted into the last scrimmage early and got significant work with the first-team offense.
The surprise playing time came when UT coaches faked an ankle injury to starting quarterback Tyler Bray.
Coach Dooley said Worley did a very good job relieving Bray. He added that going into 2012 he feels UT has two very capable quarterbacks. In the event of an injury to Bray, he indicated that Worley is much more prepared to come in and do the job than he was last season.
As in the most recent scrimmage, the defense got burned on some long gains—and scores—early on. The defense did appear to recover later in the scrimmage.
Dooley said the early issues, while expected at this time, must be addressed and corrected before the season starts. The primary area of concern is communication on the back end or defensive backfield.
Overall, practice intensity is winding down for a few days to allow the nicks and sprains to heal up. There is no practice this Wednesday as classes resume. Beginning Thursday, the 23rd, the Vols will start on the gameplan for N.C. State.
Game day is right around the corner, Vols fans. The next time the Vols are all padded up and doing situational scrimmaging, it will be against guys with different looking helmets.
Here's hoping the UT coaching staff has mashed every chocolate in that box! They may not know exactly what they are going to get, but at least they'll know which ones have the nuts.
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