A boisterous crowd of over 67k (3rd largest Orange and White attendance) were treated to more than just a scrimmage under a beautiful blue Tennessee sky in Knoxville, TN on April 16th. It all started off with a spectacular show of US pride when the Navy parachuted into Neyland Stadium with ease, bringing with them both a State of Tennessee flag and an enormous USA flag. If you have not see the footage, click here to watch a helmet cam view as they jump out of the plane and come in for a landing. It's definitely worth watching!
Afterwards, it was finally "Football Time in Tennessee..." The "game" opened up with Circle of Life drills (think Oklahoma drill) which brought all the fans to their feet. The most memorable moment was when Butch called both of the Wolfe brothers up. They had a very even matchup, showing the future is bright for the TE position.
Then it was time to scrimmage! Dobbs started off slow with a few incompletions and an INT that was not his fault, but the passing game picked up from there. Overall, the passing game finished with 200+ yards, and Dobbs finished 5-9 for 116 yards. His read option and scrambling was of course limited due to the non-contact Smokey Gray jersey, but overall Dobbs looked the part of a Sr QB in the SEC. It still remains to be seen if he can improve on his key weakness from 2015, which was the deep ball. He showed much more touch than last year, but summer workouts will be important as he gets acquainted to his new receiving core.
Hurd and Kamara of course stood out in limited touches, but the 2 pleasant surprises of the game were the emergence of Sophomore to be WR Williams, and Jr. College transfer WR George. These guys look like they are ready to step up and contribute in 2016.
The one downside to the game was 20+ players sat out due to various injuries, so most of the big names on Defense never saw the field. Hopefully this provided other guys time to step up and hone their craft.
After the exciting end to the 2015 season with a dominating win over highly ranked Northwestern in the Outback Bowl, the excitement on Rocky Top is beginning to feel like the late 90's and early 2000's. Butch has been teaching patience to the fans, and pointing everyone to 2016. That time is almost here now, so it is time for Butch to take that next step, and go from ending the 2015 season with a solid ranking, to ending 2016 with a trip to Atlanta.