By Alex Norman
On Saturday Tennessee will hold its annual Orange & White Game at Neyland Stadium. Tickets are free! On campus parking is available! You can boo Steve Spurrier! Peyton Manning might show up! The weather is forecasted to be great!
The one thing this weekend will not feature is a competitive football game. Sure, Josh Dobbs will play quarterback and yes Cam Sutton will be at defensive back… but with at least 15 players missing these important spring practices due to injury, the spring scrimmage isn’t exactly a proper representation of what fans will see this Fall.
“The spring game may end up being a spring practice,” said Tennessee head coach Butch Jones back in March. “We might have to call it an Orange and White festival or something just because of a lack of running backs and defensive linemen.”
With this in mind we have a few suggestions for what the Vols can do and Shields-Watkins Field to keep the fans interested and the players jazzed in a “please God don’t let anyone else get hurt” kind of way.
1) Thanks Peyton! Tennessee’s favorite son is scheduled to be at Bristol for the NASCAR race on April 17th, so it would not be a surprise to see him 100 miles west at his old stomping grounds the day before. Who doesn’t like showing up somewhere that gives unconditional love. Manning should walk to midfield and give Neyland Award winner Steve Spurrier a Stone Cold Stunner. The place would explode and the video would go viral.
2) Listen to your Chart! The most controversial coaching decision of 2015 was when Butch Jones kicked an extra point while leading by 12 points with less than 11 minutes to go in the Florida game. The much criticized decision might have cost the Vols a chance to send that game into overtime. Instead Florida won 28-27, the 11th straight loss to the Gators for Tennessee. Why not put different scenarios on the Jumbotron and ask Vols fans to select the correct option. Quick! Tennessee, down 11 late in third quarter, scores a touchdown. Go for two? Kick extra point? Take a knee? It’s not as easy as it looks, haters!
3) Tennessee Drill with a Twist! The one on one physical battles at midfield are always a fan favorite. But so many guys are getting injured it might not be the best idea to have 300 pound players falling on each other. Instead, put the players in those big hamster wheel looking balls and have them bump into each other at slow but safe speeds. Neato!
4) Catching Punts for Charity! Everyone likes catching a football. You don’t need to take a hit or tear an ACL to enjoy the magic of making sure the pigskin isn’t damaged by the cold, unforgiving ground. How about allowing ten fans to make $1000 donations for the chance to catch a few punts from Trevor Daniel? That’s ten large for the athletic department! I’d of course suggest that this money goes to the unpaid labor that actually risks their health and plays the games but I’d be laughed out of the stadium by UT compliance.
5) Make Me Laugh! Have Tennessee’s defensive players take part in a series of skits in an effort to make new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop laugh. Anyone that has seen Shoop’s picture with that ice cream cone during a recruiting trip knows this will be a futile exercise.
6) Overreaction Fandom! Let the fans that come up with the biggest overreaction from the Spring game get free tickets to the worst home game on the Tennessee schedule. Go on twitter after the game and see what fans are saying based purely on a pretty much meaningless scrimmage. Dobbs is gonna win the Heisman! Dobbs should be benched! Why aren’t they throwing deep! Kahlil McKenzie should return kicks! Seriously, it’s a mess on social media. Join in on the fun!
The Orange & White Game is what it is… the good news? After it’s played there will only be 4 ½ months to go until a real football game…