April 18, 2009
"Today was a really exciting day for our players and our staff. Most of our players have been through this and have had this experience. But for our staff, I can tell you, we have had a lot of coaches who have been to a lot of good places and won a lot of games -- when we were done with that Vol Walk, they came into the locker room and they didn't want to say anything in front of the players, but I had some guys come to me and say, `I have never seen anything like that.' And these are guys who have been to some really special places."
"It was really unique, and the energy out there was unbelievable and I didn't know if the walk was ever going to end. It just kept going. It was neat to see, then all of a sudden I looked up to the left and there was a parking lot that was full (of more fans)."
"I really thank our fans. That is exactly what we needed to today. We needed that environment. We needed to find out, among our players, who was going to thrive in that environment, walking into the stadium and coming out to the crowd noises and playing well, and who was not. We will determine that from the film, obviously."
"It was really powerful today the way people came out and supported us; it was huge. And as far as the scrimmage went, I'm really excited about the turnovers -- one turnover, and a full game for the most part -- was really good to see. And it wasn't Jonathan's fault on the interception, we kind of broke something a little different, so I was very pleased with that.
"I'm sure you can tell the scrimmage was set up for the offense a little bit because we didn't want to show very much. The game is going to be rerun on TV, so that's a powerful tool for our future opponents -- especially early in the year. So our defense was very vanilla and our offense was very vanilla today. When you do that, it does help the offense.
"I was proud of our guys' energy and effort. We really tried to get them going and do it just like a game. From pregame in the locker room to half time in the locker room, I thought our guys responded well."
"I know we have a long ways to go. We have a lot of work to do; we are a long ways away from where we need to be. We will go back to work here on Monday." (On the defensive drives): "Yes, there were some lengthy drives; it was good to see. That is what happens when you don't turn the ball over and you don't make mistakes, when you make good decisions. We didn't punt in the first half -- that is a pretty neat thing to have. I had to ask Eddie Gran in the third quarter, `Have we punted yet?' It was good to see, but once again the format did help that and helped our players. And my being out there on offense helped our offense a little bit and the (defensive) coaches had to be off. Our defense is going to be really good. Don't let today make you think anything different about our defense, we are going to have a great defense."
(On the quarterbacks): "I have to go to the film to really break them down exactly because there is so much going on out there that you are watching. I thought they protected the ball well, and they made good decisions for the most part. They moved us in and out of the huddle, not very many penalties at all on offense, and that was good to see. A lot of times you get into the settings and you have a lot of fumbled passes or false starts, but I'm very pleased with them today."
(On misdirection plays on offense): "A lot of that stuff is really just what we know works for our defense, and we wanted our offense to play well today -- and a little bit of that is just my background on the defense. We did run some stuff that obviously gave them problems and I knew they were only allowed to play a few defenses, so I kind of new the answers to the test. That helped a little bit. We probably ran 20 percent of our offense today."
(On Fans Day): "The whole day was unbelievable. I'm just upset because we couldn't stay longer. Unfortunately, we weren't able to touch everybody and get to everybody. I know they got to the players and stuff, but I wasn't able to see everyone. We did see so many people; they just kept coming. The best thing for me, we were in our meeting this morning and I walked by the window and I could see all of our fans lined up down the road. And I looked at my clock and it is like two hours before Fans Day starts. I was just blown away by it. I actually took our players down through our team room by our fans to go to our pregame meal so they could see this. I was like, `Guys, think about how much support you have for the team here.' The whole day was just really special for me."
(On the Vol Walk, hearing Monte's name called): "I didn't hear that, but I did have one of our younger coaches, one of our GA's, say, `I made the biggest mistake of my life.' And I said, `What was that?' He said, "I walked behind your dad on the Vol Walk and we couldn't get anywhere. It was crazy.' It must have been pretty neat back there. We will put him in the front next time and I'll stay in the back."
(On running a simpler offense and defense): "I kind of hit on that, and it is because it's on TV. We have a contract to do that, so as much as you wanted to see stuff today, what matters is that you win games in the fall. We were very simple because of that."
(On spring improvement offense and defense): "Overall, just tremendously. I think on defense, our pass-rush really improved, the defensive ends especially. Inside, we are not as strong. On a side note, what was interesting to see today was those long drives, where you saw some of our defensive linemen that have been making a lot of plays, all of a sudden when you don't turn over the ball and keep moving, all of a sudden they get tired and they aren't making as many plays. It's a great lesson for our guys to see. But I thought our linebackers, for not having any guys that have played and have moved around a bunch in different areas, really started to play well. Also, our secondary's a real strength for us, even with Eric out. They still play really well for the first unit. And on offense, we have a ton of work to do. Every time we seem to do something, we take a step back. It will be a long off season before we play. Some of these freshmen that were floating around here today that will be here in the fall, we will get them to help out too."
(On stopping point for spring practice): "I wish we could keep going. We have so much to do to become a championship team. I wish we could just keep practicing forever. It is what it is. We will maximize our time, and our guys will hit the road recruiting for the next season."
(On grading the offense and defense): "That is really hard to do because of the format. I'm sure you all are going to look at it and when these stats come out I'm sure they are going to be really heavily offensive sided. Understand, it makes it a lot easier when I know what they (the defense) are doing. It would just be too hard for me to (grade)."
(On making plays): "Yes, the guys did make some plays. Brandon made some, Gerald made some, Quinton made some. It seemed like whoever was in there was making plays, so that was really good to see. It was something we wanted to do -- push the ball down the field, with some play action and see if our guys could make some plays down there."
(On Brandon Warren): "I think it is a pretty powerful story. Here is somebody that wasn't doing everything right, wasn't doing things that we felt to be a great player, which is off the field. To have good habits, by the way, which you go about to be who you are, you're representing us, the University of Tennessee, and he wasn't doing it. You know, single digit numbers here are very powerful to have, so we took it away from him. I like it; it is a pretty cool story. We look Lennon's (Creer) away from him. One guy responded one way and came out and had a great spring game and the other one quit. I like the story of the way Brandon responded."
(On Chris Donald): "He really did not have a bunch of snaps coming into camp. We just had to give him a chance and really run, just learn the system. It takes a little bit of time. I think as he continues to learn, he is going to improve more and more. He has all of the tools."
(On any concerns looking back on spring practice): "That is too hard for me to answer. I think that's everything. Our standards are so high on the way we expect our players to play and our schemes to be run. We have to get better at everything. I wish we would have done everything better, but we did a lot of things well."