KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The only certainty about Tennessee's four-man quarterback competition is that the winner will throw to a vastly improved receiving corps.
A Tennessee offense that lacked playmakers last season showed more firepower Saturday in the Orange & White Game that closed spring practice. Freshman receiver Josh Malone led the way by catching six passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns.
The game matched the offense against the defense, with the offense representing the White team and the defense representing the Orange. The White team won 129-100 in a scoring system that awarded each unit points for various achievements.
"He adds a whole other dynamic to our offense," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said of Malone, regarded as one of the nation's top receivers in the 2014 recruiting class. "I said it in the offseason. We have to be able to throw a 5-yard pass and turn it into a 20-yard gain. That was missing from our offense last year."
Malone's performance delighted an announced attendance of 68,548, the second-largest crowd in the Orange & White Game's 54-year history. Tennessee's 1986 spring game drew a crowd of 73,801.
Tennessee didn't have anyone catch more than three touchdown passes or accumulate as many as 500 receiving yards last year as the Vols posted a fourth straight losing season. Malone and sophomore receiver Marquez North should give Tennessee a more potent passing attack this year, though the quarterback position remains unsettled.
North had five receptions for 106 yards and caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Justin Worley. The offense created numerous big plays as the defense struggled with its tackling.
"The explosiveness out of our skill group has been impressive," Worley said. "It's been a huge change from Year One (of Jones' tenure) to Year Two."
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