Tennessee wrapped up spring practice in style as the Vols hosted the annual Orange and White game on a beautiful day inside Neyland Stadium.
The White team picked up a 17-14 victory over the Orange team as JT Carver hit a 40-yard field goal with three minutes remaining.
“What a beautiful day inside Neyland Stadium for the future of our program,” Tennessee Head Coach Josh Heupel said. “Obviously, what we were doing on the field with a lot of things going on this weekend, beautiful day, over 58,000 people showing up here on Rocky Top. Unbelievable turnout from our fanbase; absolute best in the country. I thank them for the energy they created outside the stadium with everything we had going on this week.”
Over 58,000 fans joined in the festivities inside the stadium – despite part of the stadium being closed due to construction.
“It’s a combination of everything,” Heupel said of the spring crowd. “The spring game is the first time our fanbase has had the opportunity to congregate together. In some way, it was a time to celebrate the success of last season. They haven’t had the chance to experience that inside of Neyland Stadium together.
“It’s an opportunity to get their first look of what our Vols are going to look like next season, and you get an opportunity to see some of the young guys that haven’t had the opportunity to play a ton of meaningful snaps. You throw all that together and the environment that’s outside the stadium, it’s a great day on Rocky Top, and can’t thank them enough for showing up the way that they do. This fanbase is truly special.”
On the field, Tennessee saw three quarterbacks take turns behind center.
Freshman Nico Iamaleava was 8-of-16 passing for 112 yards, while Joe Milton III finished the game 9-of-13 for 79 yards and a score. Gaston Moore tallied two touchdowns and was 8-of-11 for 94 yards.
“It’s not real football at the end of the day,” Heupel said. “The defense is going to say the same thing, too. You know, those guys do a great job of trying to pull off and make sure that we’re not putting the quarterback in a susceptible position where they get a hand that goes into the helmet, so it works and cuts both ways.”
“For the quarterbacks today, I thought there was a lot of game management that was really good. You know, all in all, their eyes and decision-making were pretty sound. There are some things accuracy-wise that we have to continue to get better at.
“I love what they’ve done this spring, but we’ve got to continue to grow. That’s the reality of where you’re at when you end spring ball. You have a long way to go before you’re ready to play a football game. We have time, we’re got to be urgent in the way that we prepare. That starts when we get rolling next week.”
DeSean Bishop led the running back room with 24 carries for 88 yards, while Cameron Seldon had 10 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown while adding three catches for 43 yards.
Moore opened the scoring as he hit Dayton Sneed for a six-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and then added his second score of the day when he found Hunter Salmon for a nine-yard score.
Milton hit Kaleb Webb for a short touchdown in the second, while Seldon ended the first half with a 24-yard touchdown.
Carver’s field goal were the lone points in the second half.
Tennessee now turns attention to summer workouts and fall camp to get ready for the 2023 season.
“For us, our guys will get back in the weight room next week,” Heupel said. “There are some gains they’ve got to make. This is a unique time of the year where they’ve got the chance to be very intentional and add size and mass to their frames. They’ve got a couple of weeks off, and then they’ll be back here to get ready for summer. Late April, May, June, and July–you’ve got to win those months if you’re going to have a chance when you get to September.
“This group has been very mature in how they’ve handled themselves. It’s one of the things I love about them. Love seeing them when they come into the building. They’re super competitive and have done things the right way. I anticipate us continuing down that stretch as we get into May.”