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VOL REPORT: Scrimmage Two Looms



April 13, 2012


Here are a few of the most important quotes of the day from selected players and Coach Dooley:

HEAD COACH DEREK DOOLEY

"It's hard. I think the players, they've been out there so much that they recognize it so they know to let up and that sort of thing. It's a lot easier for the defensive guys like Prentiss because he can protect himself easier than an offensive player. We're going to try to figure it out, but they've been doing good and they've been practicing. We'll see."

"We're going to do it all and work every phase. We have it all in."

"He's doing solid. He has that nice role in there at fullback. He plays a little tight end. Justin Meredith has been hurt so we need another body at tight end. He's doing good. He's a real dependable player."

"He's back. He's been out there practicing. He should scrimmage tomorrow."

JUNIOR QB TYLER BRAY

"Coming together as a team. Before it was some guys would do ok and some were struggling and didn't know the offense. This year everyone knows the offense. Everyone is helping out everybody."

"I wasn't throwing the ball how I usually do. I was a little worried about the grip and how I was going to grip it. I'm back to normal now."

"He's not back to where he was, but he's getting there. He is one step away from being there."

"We have a stable of receivers, like they say `Wide Receiver U.' We have a bunch of receivers that can run great routes and get open so we are never hurting for that."

SOPHOMORE LB CURT MAGGITT

"I'm still learning and Herm (Lathers) is still helping me and coach Sal (Sunseri) and coach (Brandon) Staley are still helping me. I'm definitely learning a lot more and getting a better feel and understanding of the concepts of what our defense is all about."

"I'm trying to learn a few different positions, more mentally. Going out there when I get a few reps and being able to do those reps 100 percent."

"It's tough. On tough days to see Herm (Lathers) and A.J. (Johnson) out there getting too many reps and knowing that I could have been in there to sub in for them and make plays with them."

JUNIOR OL JAMES STONE

"I feel like we are more physical this spring as opposed to last offseason. I feel like as a whole we have grown some, we are being more physical out there and there is a lot of good."

"It's really good. It really fuels everybody because now you have the ones and the twos out there and you are seeing good football being played on the field. You are seeing guys really trying to get better and I feel like there is no room for anybody to be complacent in this environment."

"I like being versatile because you have options somewhere and you will be able to fill in wherever anything is needed. If you get to focus on one position that is something you can really hone down on, but if you hone down on fundamentals, it will help you in any position."

JUNIOR DL JACQUES SMITH

"I would say about 81 percent. There's so much within that defense that just flips and flops and definitely all the sub packages that we have.It's a lot of learning, and it's definitely a class. Every single day after my classes I've been coming up here and studying with Sal and all of our defenses coaches, and just learning what my main assignments are and my main objectives on each and every single play and knowing the little details within the defense. That'll give me the best shot at doing my job out on the field."

"It feels a lot better; I feel a lot more comfortable. At first, when you're at linebacker you've got the sensibility that `okay, I'm the person that's supposed to make the tackle.' That's like the simplistic view of football, but whenever it comes down to it, you're just one guy out of 11 that just has a job. In order to do your job, you're going to have to follow the rules that Coach Sal has set within the defense. Just by studying and going over and over and reppin that rules and assignments, you begin to just, the stress level just begins to minimize as you continue on. "

"I think there will be a lot more energy on the defensive side. I think we'll be a lot more confident because we've studied so much. Also, he's actually made the play calls around what are defense has run best so far in the spring. So, it's going to be a lot of fun and a lot of confident guys on the field."

SENIOR DB PRENTISS WAGGNER

"They threw a lot at us. They didn't throw that much at us before the first scrimmage. There are going to be a little bit more plays, so the only thing they're really throwing at us this week is getting a lot more communication, and just continue to progress from the first scrimmage."

"The chemistry is real well. We feel like we're a unit, we feel like we're meshing together well. We have about two or three years under our belt. When those new guys come in, we're going to bring them along as well."

JUNIOR DB ERIC GORDON

"Very hungry, we're all hungry. Everybody is hungry. I mean nobody really knows who we are as a defense as a whole or as individuals. We've got to get our name out there, and we all have to swarm to the that ball."

"I take pride in everything. Every day of practice is like a game to me and my teammates. We take it very seriously. Everything we do is very important."

Photo Gallery

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - With its final practice Friday morning at Haslam Field before the second scrimmage of spring camp, the Tennessee football team worked towards what it needs to improve upon in Saturday's trip to Neyland Stadium.

For the Vols, it's not only enhancing what they struggled with in last week's scrimmage, but mirroring what went right as well.

"I told the players they need to reflect back to (Friday) after the first scrimmage and think about the things they did well and let's build on them and then think about the things that we really emphasized that needed improving this week," head coach Derek Dooley said. "Let's go out tomorrow and try to show that we did it. All we're looking for is steady improvement and I hope we'll see that."

As the Vols have installed more throughout the duration of camp, Friday served as an "addition by subtraction" type of practice.

"What we do is we add a lot and then before the scrimmage like today, `OK guys, let's scale it down,' so they can hone in on these calls for the scrimmage," Dooley said. "We still want them to play fast. We add and then when we get to the scrimmage, we tighten it down. We add more and we tighten it down."

Tennessee's secondary - a strong point during the first scrimmage - kept the Vols' quarterbacks in check with their unique style of play.

"We need better play by the quarterback," Dooley said. "That's where it starts. If we get a few more accurate balls and the receivers pick up the route running a little bit, that's the key. They're going against a real different style of secondary than what they're used to and it's been good for us. It's a lot more aggressive. It's a lot more deny the ball, hands on them. That probably has set them back a little early."

Junior quarterback Tyler Bray acknowledged as much, but also heard his head coach's message loud and clear when looking ahead to Scrimmage Two.

"We struggled last week in the scrimmage," Bray said. "The running game prevailed. This week, we're still going to try to get the running game going, but the passing game as well."

BRAY STRESSING FUNDAMENTALS

Heading into the second scrimmage of the spring on Saturday, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray will be going back to the basics, focusing on fundamentals and footwork after not being as crisp as he would have liked in the first run-through.

Although he threw for 142 yards on 13 completions last week, Bray's accuracy wasn't at the level to which he is accustomed as he needed 32 attempts to do so, a completion percentage of just 40.6 percent.

He has his eyes set on a slightly higher goal come Saturday.

"Anything over 70 percent," Bray said. "When the accuracy gets off, it's my footwork just dropping back and being lazy. I just need to pick up my tempo and the team tempo will pick up too."

While he has worked extensively on his mechanics in practice, the scrimmage will provide him a more accurate benchmark of his progress against a defense going full speed in a game-like environment.

"(The scrimmage) is going to help," Bray said. "It's just like the game so if I get my footwork down for the game it should carry over into practice.

"It just takes a little time. I've been doing the same things since I was little so it creates a habit you have to break."

HUNTER TO SCRIMMAGE SATURDAY

For the first time in 217 days, a Vol wearing No. 11 will grace the Neyland Stadium field in action on Saturday. Junior receiver Justin Hunter will take part in the Vols' second and final scrimmage, although he will be wearing a red non-contact jersey. The rising star was off to a sensational start to his 2011 campaign before tearing his ACL at Florida on Sept. 17.

Hunter has been cleared to "do a couple of reps," and hopes to make an impact in his limited duty. It will be his first action at Neyland since the Cincinnati game on Sept. 10, when he hauled in a career-high 156 yards.

"He's doing good. He really is," Dooley said. "He's on track, but he's not 100 percent. He doesn't have his strength levels. He doesn't have his weight. I think all that, it just has to come in time."

When asked by the media what he hopes to gain out of Saturday's scrimmage, Hunter's simple response was: "touchdowns and yards."

Hunter was hopeful of being able to go full-out and not have be non-contact, but that will not be the case. He compared how he will be treated on Saturday to a flag football game, but understands why he will be treated different than if he was 100 percent.

"I think getting tagged (instead of tackled) off is like flag football," Hunter said. "I am not here to play flag football so if I get hit, I get hit, it is not like they are going to come at my legs because they know I am hurt."

Dooley is anxious to see more out of the Virginia Beach native, but knows it won't be until the start of regular-season training camp.

"Actually, I want him to push it a little more, believe it or not," Dooley said. "He has to get past that `I'm still hurt' mode. We also have to be careful. What you don't want to have happen is he never pulls the pin and it's August. Then, he's still thinking about it. At some point, you have to get over the hump that you're doing well."

Hunter says he still has limitations when it comes to making cuts.

"Basically when I try to come out of a cut it comes really slow," he said. "When I am with defenders it is hard for me to get open because they are all over me."

He is trying to put the injury behind him and hopes it is justa few more months before he is at full go.

"The trainers have told me that it might feel weird now but by the summertime it should be normal," Hunter said.

BUSY SIDELINES

Tennessee's practice was a little busier than usual, with `over 350' extra people roaming the Haslam Field sidelines.

The Vols are in the midst of hosting the 2012 Tennessee Football Coaching Clinic, which began Thursday and finishes Saturday.

"It's exciting because we have all these coaches here," Dooley said. "It was good to have them out there for some professional development. We have a great speaker lineup. Of course, Jon Gruden is our keynote guy. We have some excellent coaches all throughout the day. This is a fun time. It's good for the players to get out there and see all those coaches. It was a good practice today."

Gruden, who served as a graduate assistant for the Vols from 1986-87 and coached the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl XXXVII victory, will speak to clinic attendees on Friday evening.

DISH O&W GAME SET FOR APRIL 21

The DISH Orange & White Game will take place on Saturday, April 21 with a 2:30 p.m., kickoff. Admission and parking will be free for all fans. In addition to free admission to the game, Fan Appreciation Day will feature an autograph signing with head coach Derek Dooley, assistant coaches and Vol players. The signing, held in recent years at Haslam Field, will be held on the field at Neyland Stadium from 12:15-1:15 p.m.


 

 

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