In a few short days, Tennessee fans will snake around Neyland Stadium as they wait to enter for the first time in 2016. The Orange and White Game on Saturday provides a fresh look at Team 120 as it prepares for an expectation-packed season under fourth-year head coach Butch Jones. The subplots abound as Orange faces White in front of thousands for the first time in 2016. What should you watch? Let us help:
There's a new guy in town, and he can run more than 20 mph and is already making an impact on special teams. Marquill Osborne will make his spring game debut on Saturday, showcasing his vast corner skill set that has him competing at the nickelback spot already. Watching him in one-on-one matchups, as how he performs will give a glimpse of the Under Armour All-American's tools that Tennessee is now tweaking as it prepares him for a bright future.
One of the biggest question marks for Tennessee heading into the fall hinges on who will bookend the offensive line. Brett Kendrick has mostly manned down the right side while redshirt freshman Drew Richmond has nailed down the left so far. Fans will get to see both players in situational scrimmaging and one-on-one drills. Kendrick already boasts a wealth of experience, but he'll still battle Chance Hall for a starting spot when Hall gets healthy. Richmond is hoping to lock down the left tackle spot after a spotty spring in which he's grown but needs more development. Their talents will be on display in front of thousands in Knoxville in their final spring audition.
Photo by Danny Parker
The three healthy quarterbacks all stayed after practice on Tuesday to work on drills that will be featured in the fan-favorite quarterback competition that Josh Dobbs won at last year's Orange and White Game. Dobbs overcame a really nice performance by Quinten Dormady, who hit the second most-targets on the field, to win on his final pass. The rising senior said he's eager to defend his crown Saturday, and Butch Jones mentioned a surprise ending to the challenge. What will it be? Your guess is as good as mine, which means it's probably really bad because my guesses are never right.
The most intriguing battle of the spring will be on full display inside Neyland Stadium Saturday. There are two open spots at safety and multiple players vying to start. Evan Berry missed all of spring practice with an injury, opening the door even more for guys like Todd Kelly Jr., Micah Abernathy and Rashaan Gaulden to compete for a starting job under first-year defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. Who wins in the end? We'll get an idea on Saturday.
Will there be enough available to field an offense? Find out!
There's an added twist to this year's Orange and White Game that hasn't happened in year's past. Butch Jones told reporters Tuesday that he'd be making a surprise announcement at halftime, but wouldn't divulge any information on what the announcement could be. So what is it going to be? Is Peyton Manning coming back to witness the unveiling of plans for a statue to be built on campus in his honor? Will the Vols break out a new alternate uniform to rival the smokey greys? Will Manning enter the quarterback challenge and beat all of the current Tennessee QBs? Will Jones announce an out-of-pocket raise for all media members who work for Scout? We'll find out Saturday (please be the last one).