The Vols held an open practice at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, bringing out about 40,000 fans.
Tennessee went through a normal practice routine in front of the crowd. There were a few drills that seemed to be fan favorites. In one, managers hid a football under a pile of blocking pads. Two defensive backs lied on their backs on opposite sides of the pile and when the whistle was blown the players jumped up and dove into the pile fighting to find the ball. The most entertaining battle was between Evan Berry and Cam Sutton.
Rashaan Gaulden made some plays on defense, intercepting a Justin Worley pass and winning a one-on-one goal line battle with Ryan Jenkins.
Emmanuel Moseley locked down several receivers making aggressive plays on the ball.
Marquez North caught a couple of touchdowns and bullied Moseley on a one-on-one goal line matchup.
Butch Jones also got the crowd involved. Tennessee turned the Lil Jon song "Turn down for what" into "Third Down for what." Jones told the crowd when the defense is on the field on third down they will play that song and he needs the fans to get loud and go nuts.
"That's going to be a big change for us when we go on the road with the new rule change of pipped in crowd noise and our players need to learn how to play with that and learn how to block out the distractions," Jones said after the open practice. "Half of our team walked in here and they're like boy, this is the largest crowd I've ever played in front of. So when they got the energy going on third down and kind of a new thing we're going to do that was great to see."
Butch is hoping to learn a lot about his team from Saturday's practice in front of the big crowd. He'll have some decisions to make in the next few days.
"Tonight will serve as a great evaluation tool and then moving forward next week, we'll complete practice tomorrow and then Monday we'll start working on our starters and guys who we feel will be out there when we take the field against Utah State," Jones said. "Everything is about competition, defensive tackle somebody needs to step up and take complete control of that position. The other corner, even the nickel, a couple safety positions we have some younger players coming on right now."
Jones named freshman Todd Kelly Jr. as a guy that was pushing for some playing time at safety. Cam Sutton has one corner spot locked down but like Jones said they're looking for a starter at the other corner spot. Freshman Emmanuel Moseley seems to be the favorite there but Rashaan Gaulden and others could push for the job.
GoVols247.com: Wes Rucker's analysis on open practice:
WBIR partner Wes Rucker from GoVols247.com gives his thoughts on Tennessee's open practice.
Butch Jones comments after Tennessee's open practice:
Vols head coach Butch Jones meets with the media after Tennessee's open practice at Neyland Stadium.
Highlights from Saturday's open practice:
Video from Tennessee's open practice at Neyland Stadium.