April 21, 2013
By Brian Rice
It's time for a special spring edition of Four Downs as we go inside the DISH Orange & White Game. This week, a whole lot of fans, former players in the house, and the countdown to kickoff gets going in earnest.
First Down - 61,076 - Fans in Attendance at Neyland Stadium
Butch Jones said all spring he wanted a full house at Neyland Stadium for the DISH Orange and White Game. While the crowd didn't fill every seat at Neyland, the gathering in Knoxville made waves nationally. The crowd of 61,076 ranked third in all of college football among spring games, trailing only Auburn and Alabama.
The crowd marked the second-highest in Tennessee history, behind the 73,801 that saw the game in 1986. The 1986 crowd was part of a Tennessee attempt to earn a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest crowd to ever attend a spring football game.
Where does the number stand against regular season crowds? Based on average attendance in the 2012 season as compiled by the NCAA, the 61,706 would have been 27th in the country, just ahead of Washington, Oregon and Texas Tech. The crowd was larger than any regular season crowd in 2012 at Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, and larger than all but one game at Ole Miss.
With the crowd on Saturday, the Vols passed the million-fan mark for spring games, drawing a total of 1,049,234 fans since the event's inception in 1961.
Second Down - 500 - Estimated number of VFLs on hand
The Vol Football alumni gathering included including NFL Pro Bowlers Arian Foster and Eric Berry. Foster, the all-time rushing leader for the Houston Texans, made his first trip back to Rocky Top following his career that ended with the 2008 season. The NFL's 2010 rushing leader also added a new title to his resume - DJ on the giant stage set up in the northeast corner of the field.
Former players attended a pregame breakfast with the current Vol seniors as part of a continuing effort on the part of Jones to connect the program's past, present and future. The group was addressed by several alums, including Al Wilson and Erik Ainge.
A list of who's who in Tennessee football lore was on hand including the likes of Heath Shuler, Joey Kent, Johnny Majors, Chad Clifton, Chip Kell, Charlie Rosenfelder, Larry Seivers and hundreds more spanning the last five decades.
The VFL crew also formed a tunnel on the field as the squads returned to the field for the second half.
Third Down - Individual Numbers of Note
101 - Alden Hill rushing yards on 18 carries. The redshirt freshman capped an impressive spring with an 100-yard day on the ground, while also grabbing three passes for 14 yards.
10 - Different players to catch a pass, led by Hill and Devrin Young, each with three receptions. A positive note for Jones, who has stated that depth at the receiving position is both a concern and a focus for the offense going forward.
59 - Receiving yards on two catches by Cody Blanc, the top performer at the wide receiver position. Blanc, who made his Vol debut in the 2012 DISH Orange and White game with 38 yards on three catches, also had the lone touchdown reception for the White team.
3 - Michael Palardy field goals, perfect on three attempts. Palardy hit from 52, 42 and 36 yards,
37 - Yards covered on an interception return by Brian Randolph, who just so happens to wear #37.
62 - Yards on a Max Arnold interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, a 19-point play to give the Orange the lead for the final time.
Fourth Down - Sights and Sounds
3 - Plays called by celebrity playcallers. A young fan chosen from the crowd called a trick play, a reverse that was stopped for a loss by Jacques Smith. Justin Martin, a longtime Vol fan known for his role on the A&E series "Duck Dynasty" called a screen play that resulted in a 19-yard gain for Alden Hill.
1,296 - Days since the last appearance of the all-orange uniform combination worn by the defensive squad on Saturday. The combo last saw the field on October 3, 2009 as Tennessee hosted Auburn.
25,000 - Estimated number of fans to participate in Fan Day on the field before the game. Fans began lining up in the early morning hours to be sure to have a change to meet the 2013 Vols and Butch Jones.
36 - Sharpie markers available to Jones in his hour-long autograph session (24 black and 12 silver).
132 - Days until Austin Peay comes to Neyland Stadium and it's once again Football Time in Tennessee!