The clock hit zero and fans started filing out of Neyland Stadium after an exciting Tennessee spring game that featured lots of touchdowns and big plays. This officially began the Tennessee summer and moved us one step closer to the season. The 2021 version of the Tennessee spring game answered some questions but many still remained. Let’s take a look at some of the things the Orange and White showed as well as the biggest unknowns heading into fall camp.
2021 Tennessee Spring Game Takeaways
The Orange and White game made it clear that Coach Heupel and staff will put up lots of points this coming fall and will do it in style. One of the most frustrating things under Jeremy Pruitt was not that Tennessee lost a lot of games, it was that they played a very unexciting brand of football in those losses. Even if Tennessee loses under Heupel, which Vol Nation hopes is not often, they will at least score a lot of points in the process.
Harrison Bailey looked sharp completing multiple deep passes and showed off his arm strength and touch on the ball. Brian Maurer showed off his arm as well connecting on a few deep balls as well as showing command of the offense. Hendon Hooker displayed his athleticism running a lot as well as having a few good plays through the air. He did throw one interception however which put a damper on his performance. The receivers contributed to this as well not dropping many passes as well as running clean routes and getting open.
With all of the positives on the offensive side of the ball during the 2021 Tennessee spring game, there are just as many negatives on the defensive side. Three starters on the defensive line did not play in the game and it was visible. The defensive line struggled to generate push and pass rush at times which allowed the quarterbacks to sit in the pocket longer. The lack of depth at linebacker really showed as running backs often ran through open holes with no one to meet them.
However, this could all be contributed to the fact that spring games are usually designed for splash plays and the offense to look booming to garner fan excitement. It will be interesting to see what type of unit Tim Banks and staff have developed come season time.
The transfer portal is one of college football’s newest commodities but does not come without its own controversy. Many love the freedom it gives players to put themselves in the best position to succeed. Many don’t like it because they feel it discourages perseverance. Tennessee fans saw many key contributors leave through the transfer portal when the coaching staff was let go in early 2021. The Vols have since rebounded by picking up seven transfers in the last few months.
Kicker Chase McGrath and defensive tackle Caleb Tremblay both are coming from USC and will be very important. McGrath provides experience in a spot where Tennessee really needs it as former starter Brent Cimaglia has transferred. Tremblay will provide much-needed depth at the defensive line position which was arguably Tennessee’s weakest unit last year.
The Vols also added two quarterbacks through the portal, getting Hooker from Virginia Tech and Joe Milton from Michigan. Hooker has been on campus for a while and participated in those Tennessee spring practices so Vol fans are familiar with him but Milton only recently committed. Milton has one of the strongest arms in the country and can be a real player in the quarterback race when he arrives this Tennessee summer.
Wide Receiver Javonta Payton is coming over from Mississippi State and will be another burner in an already speedy wide receiver room for the Vols. He shined in some games last year and if he pieces it together, he can be a star. Juwan Mitchell might be the most important transfer as he is a linebacker coming over from Texas. Mitchell led the Longhorns in tackles last year and will be coming over to a team who lost both of their starting linebackers to the portal. Mitchell will be an integral part of the Vols defense next to Jeremy Banks and Morven Joseph.
Josh Heupel has had a strong start in Knoxville bringing excitement to the program over the Tennessee spring period. Over the next few months, Vol fans will see that excitement continue into fall camp and hopefully the season resulting in success. Recruiting will start to ramp up as the dead period ends and more players will enter the transfer portal. Should be a great summer for Big Orange nation.
Thank you for reading my article on a recap of the 2021 Tennessee spring game. As always, make sure to check out my Twitter @Vedpat1810 for more great Tennessee Volunteers content, and follow us @OT_Heroics for more sports content and information.Main image credit
The clock hit zero and fans started filing out of Neyland Stadium after an exciting Tennessee spring game that featured lots of touchdowns and big plays. This officially began the Tennessee summer and moved us one step closer to the season.