Orange and White Game – Orange (Defense) vs. White (Offense)
Saturday, April 20, 2:05 p.m. ET
Neyland Stadium (102,455) . Knoxville, Tenn.
Internet Coverage: ESPN3.com
What to expect: Butch Jones and Tennessee’s marketing officials will do all they can to make Saturday as entertaining as possible.
But the reality is that only 14 practice sessions under a new coaching staff, combined with an inexperienced roster and a rash of injuries, will make it hard for the Vols to put on a high-level show.
The coaches seem to be more interested in overall effort, focus and energy rather than seeing dazzling plays and perfect execution all afternoon. The Vols have come a long way since opening practice in March, but are still far from a finished product ready to take on SEC opponents in the fall.
In terms of format, it’ll be offense and special teams (White) against the defense (Orange) all game. Jones has crafted a modified scoring system that will reward not only traditional scores, but will also award points for big plays on both sides of the ball. It will be similar to how the two sides have been evaluated in previous scrimmages and practices this spring.
For at least the first part of the game, it’ll be a normal clock and down-and-distance situation, but there could also be some situational work as well.
Quarterback Justin Worley is expected to start with the first-team offense, but offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian said that Nathan Peterman should get a chance to work with the starters as well as the two continue to battle for the starting job.
The perimeter positions have been hit the hardest by injury/suspension. There will be a lot of young players and walk-ons seeing significant time at spots such as wide receiver, running back, tight end and in the defensive backfield.
The defense has had the upper hand much of the spring and Saturday will be the public’s first chance to see if new defensive coordinator John Jancek can fix what was a disastrous unit in 2012. The early signs have been positive, but with the offense still developing, it’s hard to tell if early defensive wins this spring have been a product of offensive growing pains or true development of the D.
Quotable: Jancek: “We just want to see who can compete and take what they’ve done in practice situations, obviously there’s more adrenalin. It’s going to to be the closest thing to a game before our first game. We’ll see who can carry over from practice and drill work into a competitive situation.”
Bajakian: “We will limit it, especially with us being a new staff, it is not like we want to go in there and show every little ripple that we have. The key for us is really the same key that we have had since the first day of spring ball. We are going to come in with a package that we want to execute, play hard, play with great tempo, play fast, we are about effort, tempo, and finishing. That is what we are looking for on Saturday.”
White: QB Justin Worley; RB Rajion Neal; WR Cody Blanc; WR Devrin Young; WR Sam Cranford; TE Justin King; LT Alex Bullard; LG Marcus Jackson; C James Stone; RG Zach Fulton; RT Ja’Wuan James
Key reserves: G Marcus Jackson; RB Alden Hill; WR Vincent Dallas; QB Nathan Peterman; WR Drae Bowles; OL Kyler Kerbyson; C Mack Crowder; TE Joseph Ayres
Orange: DE Jacques Smith; DT Daniel McCullers; DT Greg Clark; DE Marlon Walls; LB A.J. Johnson; LB Dontavis Sapp; CB Justin Coleman; CB Naz Oliver; NB Jaron Toney; S Byron Moore; S Brian Randolph
Key reserves: DE Corey Miller; S LaDarrell McNeil; LB Channing Fugate; LB Brent Brewer; DT Danny O’Brien; DE LaTroy Lewis; DE Jordan Williams; CB Daniel Gray
Likely out: LT Tiny Richardson; LB Curt Maggitt; WR Jason Croom; WR Jacob Carter; WR Paul Harris; S Jalen Reeves-Maybin; DT Maurice Couch; TE Brendan Downs; TE Justin Meredith; RB Marlin Lane (disciplinary); CB Eric Gordon (disciplinary)
Questionable: CB Riyahd Jones, DT Daniel Hood
Probable: G Zach Fulton
Extra points: Saturday’s game is free to the public. The record attendance for the Orange and White Game is 73,801 (1986). Last year’s game drew 34,421. . Jones and the players will sign autographs on the field from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. as part of Fan Appreciate Day. . Dozens of recruits for the 2014 and 2015 classes will be in attendance. Notable names include DL Derek Barnett, DB Cortez McDowell and DB Nick Glass.
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter@DanielNooga