Position battles, players coming off injuries, shaking up the two-deep, etc. It's all the talk of the preseason.
Tennessee is less than two weeks away and it's time for coaches to decide who's going to get a majority of the first-team reps to make sure those Volunteers are ready for kickoff on Sept. 1.
Find out what InsideTennessee learned this week from the bevy of information below:
- Sophomore Quinten Dormady retained his job as the back-up quarterback behind senior Joshua Dobbs. It doesn’t look like Dormady was in danger of losing the spot having run Tennessee’s offense his senior year of high school then enrolling in January 2015. Redshirt freshman Sheriron Jones did not enroll until Summer 2015 and redshirted last fall. Jones had the opportunity to close ground this spring but went down with a leg injury in March. Jones still isn’t 100-percent. Freshman Jarrett Guarantano could be one of four redshirts the staff is already planning to hand out, which will give the former Under Armour All-American a vital year of development under quality control coach Nick Sheridan and watching Dobbs run coordinator Mike DeBord’s offense. All four of Tennessee’s quarterbacks were Scout four-star prospects.
- Former defensive coordinator John Jancek spoke with a smile about using a dime package in 2015 with depth in the defensive backfield starting to liven up. That option went awry quickly as RaShaan Gaulden (foot) was lost for the season, LaDarrell McNeil (neck) was on the brink of seeing his football career end prematurely and Stephen Griffin was banged up.
- First-year defensive coordinator Bob Shoop may have a weapon that Jancek never had as the secondary depth is undoubtedly better than it has been in several years. Shoop calls the six-defensive-back look the “Cheetah” package. In that look, the Vols will pull off a defensive lineman, roll with two, and use a pair of linebackers. The flexibility with several DBs will be a strength in the six-DB set. Now that nickelback/safety Gaulden is back and healthy, Shoop plans to utilize the Independence (Tenn.) High School product that Shoop once recruited to Vanderbilt. That looks like it will mean senior Malik Foreman getting eased out of the starting lineup.
- Shoop mentioned days ago that Emmanuel Moseley nudged ahead of fellow junior Justin Martin as the starting cornerback opposite senior Cameron Sutton. This is a battle that’s lasted not only throughout camp and spring ball but through their sophomore seasons. Against certain personnel, there’s a chance both are on the field at the same time. Otherwise it looks like the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Moseley has beaten out the 6-1, 183-pound Martin.
- The safety competition has been talked about quite a bit from the moment McNeil and Brian Randolph graduated. On the field first for Shoop and defensive backs coach Willie Martinez at those two spots look to be Micah Abernathy and Todd Kelly Jr. Freshman Nigel Warrior and Stephen Griffin have done enough this preseason to get meaningful reps.
- The green, no-contact jerseys are set to come off of some of the key Vols, most notably running back Jalen Hurd and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin. The staff has gone to great lengths to keep those two, among others, fresh for the grind of the season each plays extremely physical positions. DeBord said he knows the physicality that Hurd brings to the table. Sophomore wide receiver Jauan Jennings is another that’s been in green and Butch Jones said he expects the former four-star prospect to be healthy and ready to go for Appalachian State.
- The door has not been closed on sophomore defensive tackle Shy Tuttle playing in September. Jones said Tuttle is on schedule. Jones left the door open for Tuttle potentially playing in the first game but sources say not to expect much, if anything, from Tuttle on Sept. 1.
- Growth and development are key facets of the Tennessee program both on the field and off it, even while a season is taking place. The 2016 signing class is one of the more impressive in several years in terms of talent per player. Jones said Tuesday that the staff has identified four players that figure to redshirt, but he didn’t say who makes up the quartet. It’s guesswork on the four but an educated guess would be Guarantano, tight end Devanté Brooks, offensive lineman Ryan Johnson and defensive end Mykelle McDaniel.
Find out more about the Big Orange by watching Butch Jones speak Tuesday in the video above and the coordinators in the videos below.