Time to figure it all out
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (email@example.com)
One kicked the game winner.
The other led his side in tackles.
Neither Alcoa High alum made the staff’s selections for the postgame microphone list Saturday as the Orange beat the White, 17-14, in Tennessee’s spring game.
Kicker Derrick Brodus booted home a 37-yarder in the fourth quarter for the only made field goal of the afternoon that proved the difference maker. Had the hero from the MTSU game made his second attempt from 27 yards some six minutes later there may well be some more serious debate raised about the walk-on’s status against scholarship kicker Michael Palardy.
The nation’s top kicking prospect when he arrived in Knoxville, Palardy’s extra points were a hold your breath affair. His 34-yard attempt into the end zone stands desolate enough to be more practice than game atmosphere lacked authority.
“Mike had a good spring but he didn’t kick as well as he’s kicked for 14 days and I told him that. He reverted back a little bit and that’s disappointing. But he’s got all summer to correct it,” UT head coach Derek Dooley said. “Brodus has had a good spring too. ... I think that was the first field goal he’s missed all spring. He hit a good kick but he just missed off the left hash.
“There’s competition there. You have to perform especially at kicker.”
Unmentioned by name, unseen postgame but obviously amongst the competitors for serious time was Jaron Toney.
After appearing in five games last season at tailback, the state-record holder for rushing touchdowns was moved to defense 10 days ago, where the other Alcoa walk-on led the White with seven solo stops from the STAR position in UT’s new defensive alignment.
“I think you look at we’re rolling a lot of corners, rolling a lot of running backs, rolling a lot of defensive lineman; those are probably the three areas where you got a lot of bodies just competing for production time,” Dooley said.
While Saturday was just a scrimmage and a far cry from a Southeastern Conference clash on the other side of summer, it was the final on-field measuring stick for some time.
The good news was that Tennessee has spirited competition at lots of places. The bad news was the Vols have so much competition that walk-ons and freshmen are putting up as good as or better numbers than older teammates with starting records and stats.
Are the walk-ons that good? Saturday’s scrimmage situations skewed by the division? Or the talent just that lacking or unmotivated to prove something in a scrimmage?
As quarterback Justin Worley put up similar numbers to Tyler Bray and collected the win; as Jacob Carter caught more balls from Worley than Da’Rick Rogers caught from Bray; and as Brodus hit kicks and Toney hit anything that fell in his sights — there’s time to wonder.
And 131 days left to figure out who needs to be at the microphone.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times and reads readers online comments posted on http://thedailytimes.com . He wrote from Knoxville.