KNOXVILLE – The orange and white will return to the gray uniforms on Saturday night against Vanderbilt.
Tennessee will wear Smokey gray uniforms for the second time this season when the Commodores visit Neyland Stadium, coach Butch Jones confirmed after practice on Tuesday.
“It was their decision,” Jones said in reference to the seniors, who will be going through Senior Day on Saturday. “Our player staff chooses what we’re doing and, obviously, I get the final say. We talked to the seniors about it and it’s their last [home] game.”
Tennessee debuted the alternate look of gray pants with orange stripes, gray jerseys with orange numbers and white helmets with an orange “T” in its game against Georgia on Oct. 5.
Though the Vols lost that game 34-31 in overtime, it’s considered one of their best efforts of the season. The atmosphere at Neyland Stadium that day was certainly one of the best of the year as well.
Originally thought to be a once-a-year look, Jones indicated that the grays are likely here to stay and could become a more regular option.
“It’s just something we’ve spoken about,” he said. “Our players, we talk about that, we talk about the gray becoming a little more standard in our football program. It’s just something our seniors wanted to do and I think it’s a reward for them. It’s not a big deal.
“The uniforms don’t have any bearing on the outcome or the game. It’s our mentality, it’s our focus, it’s our effort, and it’s how we execute and it’s our overall discipline.”
• Out: QB Justin Worley, TE Alex Ellis, TE Joseph Ayres, WR Ryan Jenkins, DE Malik Brown, DT Trevarris Saulsberry, WR Cody Blanc
• Non-contact jersey: TE A.J. Branisel, S Brian Randolph, WR Drae Bowles, TE/FB Joe Stocstill, WR Jacob Carter
• There was shuffling on the defensive front. Marlon Walls was taking first team reps at left defensive end over Corey Miller, and true freshman Jason Carr was taking second-team defensive tackle reps over Greg Clark. Walls, Daniel McCullers, Daniel Hood and Jacques Smith were the first four. Carr, Danny O’Brien, Jordan Williams and Miller were the second bunch taking reps.
• For the first time since injuring his hand at Florida in September, quarterback Nathan Peterman didn’t have any kind of wrap or brace on his thumb. He and Riley Ferguson split second-team reps at QB behind Joshua Dobbs. Justin Worley was on the field, but not in pads and he still can’t throw. With just two games remaining, it’s a safe assumption that he won’t return in the regular season at this point.
• The receivers seemed to have a good day. Position coach Zach Azzanni, rarely one to dish out a ton of praise, had plenty of compliments for the young group.
• Defensively, the Vols were focusing on adjustments for the wildcat, a look Vandy has shown regularly this season.
• Butch Jones, the insult comedian, was back at it on a smaller scale on Tuesday. He asked starting running back Rajion Neal if he even played against Vandy last year, presumably after being unimpressed with the film from last year’s 41-18 Vanderbilt victory. Neal had 14 touches for 59 total yards in that game.
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga