By Frank Gale
The Vols started fall practice yesterday and need to make the most of all fifteen practices to get ready for their home opener on Aug. 31. It took awhile getting here but the Big Orange Nation is preparing to welcome Team 117 onto the field at the end of the month.
The pre season depth chart was made available earlier in the week. The first thing that you notice is that the upper classmen dominate the two-deep chart with the exception of the defensive cornerbacks and wide receivers on offense. Of course, the only depth chart that will matter is the one that will be released right before the Vols open the season.
There are big questions surrounding this season. Who will start the season at quarterback? Then, who will be the quarterback as the season progresses? All good questions. The former will be answered way before the latter. Coach Jones has changed signal callers in the past deep into the season. So, stay tuned and expect anything.
Right now, if you listen closely to Butch Jones, he prefers quarterbacks that are consistent and take care of the ball. He also wants a leader on the field that doesn’t let his emotions hinder his ability to perform. That most likely describes Justin Worley going into camp.
The next big question is what the record will be this season. Jones says it is more about the process. The hard work and character of this team will dictate the final record. Based on Jones’ previous head coaching stops, most of Big Orange Country could be pleased as this season unfolds.
The defense has a chance to impact how this season evolves. They can atone for the product that was on the field last season. Getting back to a 4-3 defense is a start, but returning healthy players back to the field will make a difference, too.
There is plenty of untapped potential on this team. Coaching, motivation and a fresh start could be just what Team 117 needs to succeed this fall.
So far, Butch Jones has said and done all the right things. The recruiting by his staff has exceeded expectations, so why not expect that momentum to carry over onto the field this fall.
For now, it will be watching the reports out of fall camp and analyzing a fluid depth chart. All part of a football season ready to unfold in a few short weeks. Enjoy it because it will be a memory all too soon.
It has been a while since we saw effort from the opening kickoff to the final whistle. If this team follows through with the effort that Coach Jones has promised, get ready for a wild ride this season.
Can’t wait for opening night on Rocky Top! The Vols have scheduled a live practice scrimmage for fans on Aug. 17 starting at 7 p.m. at Neyland Stadium, complete with free admission and parking. I understand that even Jim Butler can get in to see the Big Orange, and can wear his Vandy colors — if he dares! The gates will open at 6 p.m. with a big orange clad crowd expected. Go Vols!
(Frank Gale is a Chronicle correspondent and his column appears regularly.)