KNOXVILLE – Tennessee is holding its first two-a-day practice session on Saturday. The morning portion was open for media viewing. There were no interview opportunities, but here are some observations and notes from the hour-and-a-half long session at Haslam Field.
. Most of the work was focused on special teams and situational offense. For example, the offense would be told the down and distance, time left in the game and how many timeouts it had left. The offense would try to score, but the field goal team would be ready to sprint on the field if time was expiring and the situation called for it. The punt team and kickoff team also got some work.
. The defense held the upper hand for much of the morning. Pig Howard scored a touchdown on a short pass, Devrin Young hauled in a short scoring reception as well and Marquez North made a catch for good yardage later in practice, but for the most part, the defense dominated the drills. Defensive end Jordan Williams recorded a sack on Nathan Peterman and Riyahd Jones had a nice stop on running back Justus Pickett to keep in-bounds and prevent a score. Quarterbacks had a hard time finding open receivers all morning.
. Speaking of Riyahd Jones, he was working primarily with the second-team defense. Freshman Cameron Sutton and walk-on Michael Williams were the first-team corners. Justin Coleman and Malik Foreman were held out with injuries. Walk-on David Priddy also worked as a second-team corner. Depth continues to be a major concern at cornerback.
. Injuries are starting to take their toll as camp progresses. We’ll have a more complete update after tonight’s practice, but approximately 15 players were either out or limited this morning. Defensive tackle Maurice Couch might be the biggest concern. He was not in pads and was seen on crutches with a walking boot on.
. Kicker Michael Palardy got a chance at a couple of simulated game-winners from 58 yards out. He missed both badly. His career long is 52, so UT might not be trying too many 50-plus yard field goals this year. He did knock home a chip shot from about 30 yards.
. Senior quarterback Justin Worley, again, took first-team reps with Nathan Peterman handling most of the second-team work. It appeared that it was freshman Riley Ferguson’s scheduled day off from throwing.
. Senior linebacker Channing Fugate wasn’t at practice.
The Vols will hold their second practice of the day this evening at 6:50 p.m. at Neyland Stadium. We’ll have further updates later tonight.
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter@DanielNooga