KNOXVILLE – Coach Derek Dooley isn’t ready to announce a depth chart until Thursday, especially at some of the highly-contested positions such as safety and running back.
Junior Byron Moore might have let slip a little secret on Monday.
“After our second scrimmage they really promoted me up to the starters, so I’ve been starting the last two practices,” Moore said.
Moore is battling junior Brent Brewer for the starting safety job next to entrenched starter Brian Randolph. Moore has been the standout through the team’s first two scrimmages. The Carson, Calif., native had two interceptions and one pass deflection in the Vols’ second scrimmage on Friday.
That performance followed up a six-tackle effort in the first scrimmage on Aug. 11. All of those plays added up to an advantage in the starting competition.
“Just being productive in both of our scrimmages,” Moore said when asked what he’s done to earn starting reps. “I’m just showing up each day at practice. I just try to be the guy making as many plays as I can each day.”
Dooley praised Moore, who came to the Vols in 2011 by way of Los Angeles Harbor Community College and the University of Southern California, for his effort in camp thus far.
“He’s done great,” Dooley said. “He’s been productive in both scrimmages, he’s had a great attitude, made some interceptions and he’s tackling well. He’s doing all the things we thought he could do when we signed him.”
He did stop short of proclaiming Moore the opening-day starter though. Dooley pointed out that they have experimented with multiple players as starters at each position, and currently working as a starter doesn’t mean it’s a final decision made by the coaching staff.
“We haven’t released any depth charts, and we’ve been moving guys all camp,” he said. “We’ve done that with a bunch of guys. I don’t think a lot of these positions will get settled until deep in the season.”
Music makes its return: Music blaring over the loudspeakers during practice was a regular part of 2011 practices. It made its return on Monday. Senior linebacker Herman Lathers had the honor of selecting the playlist.
“I don’t have that song, nor do I know what it is or who sang it - if you call that singing,” Dooley said when asked if it was his selection of music.
Dooley said getting music back is something the team has earned in the least week.
“They came to me about 10 practices ago and requested music,” Dooley said. “I just said music doesn’t energize you, you get music when you’re energized. It’s a privilege, not a right.”
“Q” Watson impressing: Freshman running back Quenshaun “Q” Watson has been one of the pleasant surprises of fall camp. He’s one of the smaller players on the roster at 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, but Dooley thinks there could be a role for him going forward.
“Q is doing really well,” he said. “He’s a little light and this is all new to him. He’s got good skill sets: he’s fast, elusive and instinctive. He’s made good plays in both scrimmages.”
Watson scored on a 60-yard run in the first scrimmage, and caught two passes for 30 yards and a touchdown in the second.
Practice observations: A couple observations from the open portion of Monday’s practice:
. Tight end Mychal Rivera still isn’t moving well and isn’t doing much after spraining his knee the first week of fall camp. The initial prognosis was that he would be out one week, but the injury has lingered on. He is technically practicing, but it seems that Dooley might have initially understated his injury.
. Just going off the eye test, freshman wide receiver Alton ‘Pig’ Howard is one of the most impressive newcomers. The eye test is all there is to go off of right now because he’s been rehabbing a broken foot. He’s relatively short at 5-foot-8, but he’s stout and looks like he’s been in a college weight program for a couple of years already.