Postgame Quotes: Orange 95, White 71

April 20, 2013

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(Opening statement)
"I would like to thank all of our great fans. 61,000-plus (fans in attendance) is what makes this the best place in all of college football. Thank you to our fans. "We had over 500 former players back on Friday night, and you saw them all here at the game today. We are all in this thing together. They understand the work that needs to be done. But, you can just feel their presence around this football program, and it's great. This was the greatest weekend since I have been head football coach here. It started with a 7:45 a.m. knock at my door, and it was Arian Foster--his first time back."

"Everything is about developing leadership with our football program. We have a new tradition on gameday, and it is Captain's Breakfast. I asked three individuals to come back and speak to our team. Charlie Anderson has been a great friend to the program, Eric Ainge, who has a great story to be told, and Al Wilson--the first time that Al has been back in a number of years. That is part of character development and leadership. They spoke about what it means to be a senior in our football program."

"I think that our players see the amount of work that needs to be done in the summer months. We have to be in game condition, and we aren't in game condition in any form. I told the team that we played about a half of football, today."

"Our tempo has to increase, our physicality, our overall timing in the throw game and our overall endurance, as well. Football is a game of field position, and I was encouraged, especially in the first half. I am very encouraged by what I see, but obviously; over there is a lot of work that needs to be done over the next couple of months. I can feel this football team growing closer and closer together, but we have to get a lot better over the summer months."

(On the message the program sent)
"The message is loud and clear: There is no other place in the country like Tennessee. All you have to do is look at the evidence--the success of the program, the leadership from our administration, the fan base and our coaching staff. "We are going to attract the right players to come play football here at Tennessee. Why would you not want to come here? You see the environment, the chance to build something special. I think that today spoke volumes."

(On the quarterbacks)
"It is wide open. Just like every position, it will be open. The growth that a football team can make from May to the end of July can be monumental, if they buy in and work exceptionally hard. Plus, we have our freshmen reporting in June. That is one thing--we were able to attract a top-25 class, we were able to tell them that they could come in and have the opportunity to compete and play."

(On the areas he has been encouraged by)
"Upfront. Defensively, I thought that we did some great things at the line of scrimmage. Big plays on defense either occur on missed assignments or errors, or lost leverage on the football field. There were a couple of times that we were doing a good job, but we didn't leverage well and the ball bounces on the outside. That's all discipline and aiming points.

"We have had a grueling and grinding spring football session. On Wednesday, we strapped it up and got after it. I just think that the overall mentality of our football team is positive. You win with team chemistry. You win with being disciplined. You win with being a team that doesn't hurt itself.

"What we have to find is playmakers. You can't be perfect, in today's world of football, especially in the SEC. You need individuals that can step up and make a back-shoulder catch or one-handed grab.

"We didn't have balls on the ground, defensively. We have to force turnovers. On the other side, I like that we didn't have very many fumbles. We have to force turnovers and generate that.

"This football team is as eager and as willing as any football team that I have ever coached."

(On the development of Alden Hill)
"Today's performance summarizes his spring. He has been a great surprise. Does he still have a long way to go? Yes. Did he leave some yards out there? Yes. But, he has been an individual who has had great consistency in his performance. "He comes with the mentality to get better each and every day. He has become much more physical."

(On the penetration of the defensive front seven today)
"That was great to see on defense. Offensively, there are times that the back is making a wrong cut, or slipping. There might be guys not holding on the double team enough and that all comes with timing, chemistry and repetition. Repetition is the mother of all learning, and that's why this summer is going to be critical moving forward."

(On the performance of Corey Vereen)
"Corey Vereen is the type of individual that we want to recruit to come here to Tennessee. He does well in the classroom, he's quiet, but his game speaks. He has a great motor and he is going to do nothing but get better and better and better. He is quick twitch, he is explosive, but now he needs to get bigger. When we start in August, and it's about winning football games for real, his level of play has to increase to be able to compete day-in and day-out, at this level."

(On injured players)
"When you have the amount of receivers that we have out, you can't make excuses because what if they are out during the season. That's when individuals step up. It sounds cliché, but the names on the backs of the jerseys may change, but our level of expectation does not. It doesn't matter if it's the first, second or third (string) individual in there. Our standard of performance doesn't change. That's why we need to continue to recruit and why we need to develop depth, moving forward."

(On Justin Worley starting)
"I still need more time to address that. I thought that he did some good things. Nate (Peterman) was kind of in a challenging situation, so you have to take that into consideration. Obviously, when we move forward, this summer will tell me a lot.

(On Nathan Peterman)
"I have not seen any frustration. He did get excited the one day we did make him live. He has been typical of our entire football team. Just tell me what to do Coach and we'll do it. That's why I'm encouraged with what I see with this team."

(On Brian Randolph)
"Brian is slowly starting to work his way back and really be in game shape. He's still hampered a little bit from the recovery of his injury. But it was very encouraging for me to see his play. I thought he really elevated his play today and we're going to need that, obviously down the stretch here in the summer and in the fall."

(On having players on the roster from Tennessee)
"We do so much team building stuff. I think it does help though when you're a local player, when you're a player from the state of Tennessee or even Atlanta, which is two and a half hours away. It's unique for the parents. They really develop a special chemistry with the rest of the players on the team. They bring them over for barbeques and all that. That's one of the great things about our proximity of where we're located. We're able to recruit and go into cities in a vicinity that are two and a half, three hours away and I think that's really rewarding for the parents."

(On having guest fan pickers)
"We have done that in the past. Everything we want to do, especially in events like this, is fan friendly. I think it's a way to have fun, keep your serious side, but also a way to say thank you for your support. Those young people, those little kids, will remember that for the rest of their lives. It's all about growing up with an affinity for the University of Tennessee and that just helps that process."

(On Dontavius Sapp and Mack Crowder)
"I think first of all, high level of consistency. They didn't miss one rep in practice. Mack has been hurt. He hurt his thumb and he's a center. He didn't say anything. They didn't miss one rep. They've had a very high level of consistency, but they progressively got better from practice one all the way to practice 14 and they were very deserving."

(On challenging the quarterbacks for the summer)
"Everything. Everything needs to be worked on. Taking ownership in our receivers, tight ends, running backs and developing that trust and timing. Overall leadership, overall command presence, being the alpha male and understanding that. Growing their leadership, the overall knowledge of the game and letting the game slow down a little bit when it comes to them."

(On quarterbacks being an alpha male)
"Name me a good football team or a great football team whose quarterback wasn't a great leader. Usually your average to below average teams, the quarterback brings no leadership value. Everything is at quarterback as the coach on the field. The quarterback sets the entire temperament for the football team, not just the offense."

(On how Cincinnati prepared him)
"That's what makes this job special. When you look at the media coverage we have here at Tennessee, it's very important. I think it's evident by the amount of people in this room and having 61,000-plus. I think Cincinnati really prepared me for this opportunity to be in a pro market and the scrutiny that is there. That 4-8 season was probably the hardest thing I've ever endured in my life. I think that prepared me. A lot of times when you suffer adversity they say, `If adversity is the greatest life lesson, how come nobody wants to experience it?' I think that helped me prepare and I love it. As a football coach, you want to coach, and as a player, as a recruit, whatever it is, you want to play in a program that is important. Obviously, the magnitude of Tennessee football is nationwide."

(On the need for play makers)
"I think we do have some play makers. I think Alton Howard can be a play maker, I think Devrin Young can be a play maker. I think Rajion Neal in his own way can be a play maker. I think we have some play makers. Alden Hill can be a play maker, but it's just a level of consistency. We need to get back some of the wide outs. They can't miss valuable reps. We have to have the ability to spit a five-yard throw out and turn it into a 25-yard gain. The only way you do it is with our slot receivers. Every time we have had success in our offense, our slot receivers have been dominant. You look at Antonio Brown, three years at Central Michigan and is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had 100-plus receptions each year. You look at Anthony McClung at Cincinnati. You can go around and around. That's what we need from Devrin and that's what we need from Alton. They have to play themselves in a great physical shape. You do that by really demanding of yourself, each and every day."

(On Dan McCullers being pushed)
"I was really encouraged by Dan McCullers today. We have probably pushed him the hardest. We need him to be a dominant defensive tackle. We need him. He has the ability, but we have to get his motor running on every snap. It's that endurance. What is it when it's 4th and 1 and it's the seventh play of the drive. Daniel McCullers can be a play maker. You don't have to be a play maker just offensively, we need those defensively too. I was really encouraged by his play. He's been attentive in all meetings. He has been willing. He wants to be coached. I think he's very blessed to be coached by Steve Stripling, who I feel is the best defensive coach in the country. I've felt that way for a long time. They're really listening to the coaching being done."

(On offense heading into fall camp)
"I think we're right on schedule. I think too much is made of scheme. It's all about execution. We're going to be an execution-based offense, defense and special teams. Why would you even put even more stuff in if your players aren't executing it at a high level? We have to be able to complete the hitch, we have to be able to complete the three-step slant before we can graduate. I thought at the end of spring we started to be more consistent, but we have to master the tools of the trade, the fundamentals and the small details. You look at the offenses that don't execute and they probably have a high volume, but never master anything. They don't own anything. When it's 4th and 3 and the game is on the line, whether it's Austin Peay or Oregon, Florida or Georgia, it doesn't matter. When we call that football play, our players have to have a high level of confidence that they've repped it over and over and over again. It doesn't matter what the coverage is, they're going to execute it."

(On incoming players competing for the quarterback spot)
"I think Joshua Dobbs coming in and also Riley Ferguson as well. We have two very outstanding young men coming in. I think that's going to add to the overall quarterback competition. Charlie High as well. I think the big thing is we're still behind in our scholarship numbers there. We just talked about the quarterback sets the temperament of your program."


(On what he saw today from Cody Blanc and Vincent Dallas, was he encouraged by it)
Yes. We've been stressing playmakers on the outside, at running back and at tight end, so having some of those guys make some big plays and show a flash and some signs of what could be, it was good to see.

(On how the offense played and what they need to work on)
It was a little sloppy. Too many penalties, too many missed assignments, that we can easily fix. They're just small things. This summer is going to be huge for us as an offense to work on those small things and progress in our tempo and things like that.

(On how much Jones has talked about the QBs setting the tone for the entire program)
He'll come into our QB meetings and burst through the door and write leadership on the board. He'll touch on small things about how we can help the team and influence others around us. He's put a lot on us from the standpoint of being leaders and it kinda falls back on us, too.

(On how the injuries affected the team's performance today)
We've had those guys hurt for the past week and a half, so the guys that we played with today have been playing with us previously. So i wouldn't say we were handicapped, but it was a little bit sloppier than we were expecting. These guys know the offense, they know what routes or protections need to be filled

(On if its hard to stay loose with the competition for starting job being so tight)
It wasn't about the competition today. It was about performing in front of the fans and showing a glimpse of what this team is going to be.

(On how far they've come this spring)
It's been gradual, starting in January. Coach lawson and the strength staff did a good job of putting Nathan and I in leadership positions and try to develop the respect of our team.


(On what he saw today from Cody Blanc and Vincent Dallas, was he encouraged by it)
We do have to work a little bit more, but it was great to see that playmaking ability.

(On what it was like playing in front of a big crowd for the first time-)
I was just excited. I was really appreciative of the fans. I heard it was 61 thousand and we appreciated that. It was a great opportunity to go out, have fun and play football.

(On how the offense played and what they need to work on)
Justin hit it on the head. Summer is going to be big for us. I go back to what Peyton Manning said. He stressed the summer. It was big when he was here. You have to get on the same page with the receivers. Coach Jones stressed that, too, after the game. He said he's handing the team over to us and Coach Lawson. We have to take ownership and get better.

(On how the injuries affected the team's performance today)
I wouldn't call it handicapped either. i would say it hurts on numbers, the guys are getting a little bit tired, and maybe we need to get in better shape with the uptempo offense, but we still have playmakers out there. We just need to make plays and focus on the details a little bit more.

(On the defense showing so much pressure and how that helps going into the fall)
It definitely helps. They're giving us a great look on the other side. Having that pressure and being forced to move in the pocket in a game situation is very important for ourdevelopment.

(On if Peterman has shown all he can do from mobility standpoint since QB is rarely allowed to be hit)
I think the coaches are good evaluators of it. He has put me live a couple times in spring practice so they've seen a little of it. All I can do is do my best.

(On if its hard to stay loose with the competition for starting job being so tight)
I don't think so, I think we're just having fun out there playing football. I had a pretty good time today to be honest. To get the opportunity to play in front of 60,000 for a spring game, you have to enjoy it.

(On how far they've come this spring)
All we have to do is keep earning our respect. The respect isn't over yet. You have to come in day in and day out and give your best. You have to make sure you bring it every single day.


(On leadership)
Last year we were really more of a coach lead team, and we didn't have any real leaders. We had a good team, but no real leaders. This year we had leaders step up like: AJ Johnson, Curt Maggitt, Brian Randolph, and Ja'Wuan James. They basically took over the team, want to see effort from everyone, and it's hard to let your teammate down so you have to give it your all.

(On the moment that changed his mindset)
I feel like when Coach Jones came in, he hammered it into our head. We are going to play this way and nobody is going to step on us. We're going to do the stepping on and let everyone know we're a great team in the SEC.

(On today's atmosphere)
It's just basically letting us know that everyone is all in, including the fans. The fans are important to us too.

(On going forward from the spring)
We should develop more of a family atmosphere, because as you can tell, this family atmosphere is helping us play a lot better.


(On stepping up to a leadership role)
"I've taken more of a leadership role on the offensive line. Maybe not so much with the 'ones' because James (Stone) does such a great job with that, but with the 'twos' definitely. I think I've stepped up in that area and have made a lot of strides since last spring."

(On his spring game performance)
"I think I played well. There are things to improve, but that's what the offseason is for. I think more than anything I have to improve some techniques, inside-zone runs and outside-zone runs."

(On Coach Jones)
"Really, it's all about bringing that old Tennessee back. Whoever were going to face this year is going to know we are going in there to beat them. We are going to have a swagger about us that I think we lost over the past couple of years, and we're getting it back."

(On things to improve)
"Just getting in shape. We didn't go nearly as fast as we would like to, so during the offseason, we're just going to be getting in shape with the mindset to outwork everybody."


(On speed of the offense)
"I think we are just not consistent. We have days where we look good, and we score well. Then, we have days like today. It's just a new offense, and we're just still adjusting to all of the change. At the end of the day, we just have to get it rolling."

(On potential success of the offense)
"Definitely, it's been successful everywhere else it's been. (Justin) Whorley and Nate (Peterman) played really well and are starting to come into a leadership role. Somebody we can expect to lead us down the field to score a touchdown; we just have to put all the pieces together."

(On playing the slot)
"Coach has constantly told me how important it us for me to do my part as a slot. The slot has to be on point. I (am going to) work on my routes, get stronger, get faster and work on my conditioning. For me and a lot of us, it isn't really a physical hurdle but more of a mental hurdle that we have to overcome."


(On his celebration after a made FG)
"I'm like that with almost every single one of my kicks. Whether I show it to people or not, making the kick and getting the three points is the biggest thing for me. That's my job, so when i go out and perform to the best of my abilities, it's like a quarterback throwing a touchdown or like a receiver throwing a touchdown. It gets me excited but at the same time I have to stay focused and try to stay calm."

(On how much he needed today's performance for confidence)
"That was the biggest thing to me. I know a lot of people came out to watch the game and want results but the biggest thing for me personally is to perform to the best of my ability and perform how I know im capable of. Internally, I'm satisfied with today, but there's still a lot more things that need to go into my performance, still a lot of work to do. But I'm happy and satisfied with my performance. That was the biggest emphasis coming into the game was showing everybody what I was capable of doing."

(On what he thought of the spectacle of today--former players, DJ booth, etc)
"It's one of the best atmospheres I've been around since I've been here. We had a senior breakfast this morning where Al Wilson and Charlie Anderson and Erik Ainge came to speak to us. Stuff like that really motivates us, not just me but the coaches and my teammates as well. The atmosphere was the kind that people want to see and people enjoy, especially recruits that come in here and see that energy. They love that and want to be around it. It was huge."


(On how it felt to only give up one scoring play to the offense)
"Our philosophy is we want to stop them as many times as possible. Even if they drive a little we want to force them to a field goal. I'm pretty proud of what we did today."

(On if it was difficult to stay focused with all the extra stuff going on--DJ booth, etc)
"It was just another day of work, its the day we've been working for all spring. We knew we wanted to work but come into the day and have fun and show what we've been doing all spring."

(On the pass rush's improvement over the spring)
"We knew coming into the spring we had to improve our pass rush. Even today, after the first half, the defensive line got together and we knew we were doing good but we wanted to do better. We figured we had as many sacks in the first half as we did all last season. We just want to build on this game and do it throughout the season."

(On Corey Vereen)
"He's young, but he's good. He can play. He's quick off the ball and he's good at getting up the field and getting to the quarterback."

(On if he's encouraged by the defense's performance over the spring)
"Definitely. We know a lot of people counted us out but our goal this spring was to go and prove that we are capable of playing at a high level."

(On if it helps going against such a talented offensive line everyday in practice)
"Definitely. Coach always said "you're going against the best every single day. When game day comes, you're going to know what it feels like going against the best."

(On how he feels about the depth of the defensive line)
"I feel good about our depth on the defensive line. A lot of people don't undertand what kind of players we have backing up the starters. We have people that can rotate in and it showed today."


(On improvements)
"The fact that we still have things to focus on and work on, I feel like that's a good point that we can and hone in on and actually have key coaching points to focus on as far as bettering ourselves and everything."

(On conditioning and improvements)
"I mean really that. I feel like our conditioning dictates our whole offense and defense just from the tempo that we try to run."

(On offensive play)
"I would probably say it's a little bit of both. Us leaving some things out there, defense making a couple of plays. There was some loose footing and a lot of shots being fired out there, so I felt like it was a little bit of half and half."

(On adding players to lineup)
"Possibly. When those guys are out, we need our young guys to step in and show us what they have. It's been done before. Younger guys can come in and play as quick as they want to."

(On today's game)
"I'm my worst critic. Overall, I thought I had an okay day. A couple of my teammates said they felt I did pretty good, but I don't know. I'm just out there playing, trying to have a little fun."

(On being a leader)
"Oh yes, definitely. That's some of the key things that we stress and focus on is really taking our blocks to the defenders, helping our o-linemen out versus last year it was just hit it and go, and we were kind of messing those guys up. Now we're trying to actually bring defenders to the blocks, helping them out, setting them up, so we can be more successful in our running game."

(On coaches stressing to make plays)
"Every time. I actually stressed that to the coaches that it got under my skin a little bit. I feel any good competitor, any guy that thinks anything of himself should kind of take a shot at him a little bit."


(On communication)
"The guys, we're still working on our communication and everything like that to the point where everyone is out. Coach and Devrin, Pig and everybody, we've all been relying on each other as to where when everyone was here, we could help each other, substitute out, talk to Coach Z in between a drive and he could give us pointers and tell us what we could do better and then we could go back in and work on it then, as to where now we go the whole drive, we come off and then he tells us what we need to improve on."

(On completions)
"We have to get on the jugs a lot more. We could barely focus on what the coaches say CTT, we have a lot of guys who try and catch it and turn up field before they secure the ball, just little things like that. Catch, tuck, turn."

(On wide receivers)
"It's not really anything to do with the quarterbacks. I feel the quarterbacks have been very consistent all spring. It's really been us. We're the ones who have been slow and inconsistent, dropping passes, not being where we're supposed to be on our routes. Absolutely, we know both quarterbacks can put the ball where it's supposed to be."

(On offensive tone)
"It was great. That was my first touchdown I've actually scored in front of a big crowd, in front of Neyland. To get the offense a little momentum, because like you said, we weren't having the best drives and things like that, so it was good."

(On defense)
"Absolutely. The defense have been playing the orange swarm. They've been playing fast and physical and that shows the offense where we need to be fast and physical, because the defense has really stepped up compared to last year. The offense just really needs to step up now."

(On touchdown)
"It will be a big deal because we don't really have, everybody doesn't think we really have guys who can run out to the catch and things like that, but that just shows we have a bunch of guys who haven't made a name of themselves yet, but that doesn't, we all can, we're all play makers."

(On going into the summer)
"We still have a long way to go, but there's definitely qualities that each player has, me personally, that's a big confidence booster going into the summer."

(On atmosphere)
"Absolutely. I think today they said today was the second biggest crowd we've had for an Orange and White game. That just goes to show that everybody is curious as to what Coach Jones has to offer, what they've been coaching and teaching us so far for the spring. So I think everybody, fans and everybody, are all in and just want to see what we have."


(On his performance today)
"I came out here and did some good things, but you have to go watch film. It's not always as good or bad as it looks and I know there are some things I know I need to work on out there; conditioning and some little things like that."

(On the motivation to move up the charts)
"I know I just have to be consistent. Come out here looking at pre-snap reads, your alignment, and your steps; Coach calls that "APES", alignment, pre-snap reads, eyes, and steps. You just have to focus on those little things and I think that helps you with the right schemes."

(On playing with the different teams)
"I just play like it's the first team either way. Looking through the little things is how I break everything down. That helps me deal with the big scheme of things; breaking it down whether its twos, threes, ones, it doesn't matter."

(On the offense today)
"That's the thing with scrimmages, especially in spring, offense is either going to be good or bad. It's going to be a win lose situation. We did some good things, but I think momentum and things we need to work on was lacking a little bit today. We did good things and it's hard to tell until you look at film, and I think that's a big factor. I think we came out here and gave effort. As long as we give effort, we win."


(On adjusting to adversity on the offensive line)
"A lot of guys showed different things that they can do. I felt like a lot of guys embraced it; I haven't played on the left side of the line since high school. It helps a lot in this league if you can have seven lineman and be able to play them. I feel like we have a lot of guys we are capable of playing."

(On the defense)
"I'm actually excited and proud. I've seen the come a long way. Brian (Randolph), who bounced back from with his ACL, has been keeping everybody positive on the defense. A.J. Johnson, he is pushing everybody. It feels good to compete everyday at practice."

(On offensive struggles)
"It can definitely be frustrating, especially when you're playing somebody else's defense. As an offense, we need to get together as a team and have a great summer."

(On the fan turnout and atmosphere)
"I want to say, 'Thank you to the fans.' I know a lot of guys where trying to get people to come on Twitter and stuff like that, and people answered today. I really appreciate it. The second biggest turnout, it really shows the message to our fans. and what Coach Jones has been saying."

(On the environment)
"Coach Jones was the president today. He was kissing babies and stuff. It was fun. It felt like a concert. He told us before that we were going to perform, that we've been working to perform."


(On confidence level)
"The defense especially, they want the ball on the break and aren't afraid of competition. I feel like our confidence level is out the roof. We've had a lot of success in practices, and there is a lot of confidence when we go out there and know what we're doing."


(On improved pass rush)
"Coming in from last year, that was one of the goals of the defensive line and Coach Strip definitely made that a goal for us as a unit. We've been working on it all spring: getting better on our takeoffs, our hand movements, and reacting to the quarterback, and being in our positions on the quarterback. I think defensive line showed up today and we're just getting better. We're taking it a day at a time and it was a good day for us."

(On Corey Vereen)
"Corey is a great player with a motor that doesn't stop and his work ethic is very tremendous. We haven't seen trouble out of him. You know coming in as a freshman and have that mentality that you do whenever you're leaving high school, Corey is a very humble individual. He's a very talented young man and I definitely think he's going to help out this defensive line this year."

(On the difference in the defensive line)
"I think we are very comfortable because of the scheme. It's a 4-3, something that we're use to, and a lot of guys played in while they were in high school. You know it's just a natural fit. Just like defensive end for me, playing the "leo" is a natural fit for me. Everyone is comfortable and we've seen it before; you know it's the same concepts, just different terminology and it's just something we've gotten better at. I think it just fits us better personnel-wise than a 3-4."


(On motivation from the former Vols attendance)
"You always talk about when come back about what your legacy is going to be. Just seeing those guys come back and talk to us; from Peyton Manning, to Arian Foster, Al Wilson this morning, and Erik Ainge... that was probably some of the best talks we've had from my time being at Tennessee."




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