April 13, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Check out the entire transcript of Butch Jones'media session on Saturday after the team's scrimmage Saturday.
"I think the big thing is every play is a teaching opportunity. One side of the ball is going to have success and the other is not. The one thing that stuck out to me is we tried to put our defense in some really challenging situations today. We generated some turnovers in the red zone which is great. I think the greatest teaching point of the spring came true when we finally swarmed the football. WE have a thing called blind tackles. We created a fumble and we created a turnover. We have to understand we're going to play like that on each and every snap. Obviously on offense, we have to avoid the catastrophic plays. We cannot turn the football over in the red zone. We can't turn the football over period. A lot of great teaching with four-minute offense. The big thing is I really like the way our players approached today. I could feel the energy. I could feel the intensity. Right from the get go in our meetings to warm-ups. That's a step in the right direction. That's progress. We're going to be a football team that our fan base is going to be proud of the way we play and the way we represent this institution and this state, and everyone across the country. But it's going to be a work in progress in terms in how we play, but I thought we took a step in that direction. It's the little things and mistakes that we can't have."
(On the consistency of intensity and effort this spring)
"It has. I was not pleased the last couple of practices as an overall team. One side will bring it one day and then the other side. But consistency and collective energy, intensity, physicality, I started to feel it was tapering off. That's why coming out here today, our bodies are sore and it's been a grind. To see their approach today is very, very encouraging and I liked it."
(On both sides of the ball responding today)
"I think we've challenged our leadership. We need to demand more. We need to expect more. We've watched video clips of the last two days defensively, that's of third and one and swarming to the ball defensively. It's a standard and an expectation by which we're going to play and live day-to-day, practice-by-practice, game in and game out. There can be no off days. You get 12 opportunities a year hoping to get to 12 and 14. Everything is a level of consistency so that's why I was really encouraged because we really challenged our players on Friday of really come out here and I thought they brought it."
(On the quarterbacks)
"I'll have to see the film more but I still think there is many teaching opportunities in the red zone. You have three points in your back pocket. Throw the football away and let's take three points. Those are the things you can talk about in meetings, on the grease board, through film study, but really there's no substitution for live game speed repetitions and that's what we tried to create here today."
(On where the team is and where they need to be)
"This week is going to be critical. We're nowhere we need to be, but I thought we took major strides and just our overall mentality, our effort, our accountability. We're no way game ready, but I do see progress and I'm really encouraged walking off the field here today. But then, you go back and again, we cannot have the turnovers. WE have to take care of the football defensively. I believe it's a 3rd and 18, 3rd and 22 situation, we allow a deep ball. Then obviously the offense goes on a 4th and one and gets it. Those are the things we talk about. We talk about snapping clear. When you make a mistake, move on. Peyton (Manning) called it getting back to ground zero. So much, I think is lost in the game of football. It's a mental game. When you make a mistake, you need to learn from it and move on. You can't let that first mistake become your second mistake and beat you down the road."
(On Alden Hill steadily improving)
"He's worked his way up there. Alden continues to get better and better. He still needs to continue to learn the little nuances of how to run the football and not bouncing things to the sideline. He's an interior runner. He's an individual who brings it every day. You can see individuals who have a mentality get better and bring it every day, they usually get better. He's one of the those."
(On similarities between first springs at Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Tennessee)
"I think about that all the time. The one thing that is invaluable and you can't put a price tag on is experience. Every situation was a little different. Taking over different programs in terms of leadership and team dynamics. Every situation is a little different but there's been a lot of carry over too. At this stage of the game, I've been really pleased with our players willingness. I got lectured by my wife, I don't like to use the term buy in. I think it's belief. It's trust. We've pushed these young men. They've continued to try. I think the trust and belief has been there. You find out in adverse situations and that's what we tried to create today. I've been encouraged by what I see. I see a team that wants to continue to get better. When you tell them something, they take heart to it. When you do that, you can continue to improve so I've been encouraged."
(On the quarterbacks shifting momentum)
"It's being able to turn momentum and make a big play, extend plays, but just overall command presence. I see it, but I need to see it more on a consistent basis. It has to become innate. It has to be habitual. It has to be engrained in them. It comes with reps, it comes with confidence and it comes with putting the time in. That's why again this week is going to be critical. The spring game is going to be critical when we actually get bodies in the stands to see how they perform. I'm a little concerned from our injury situation of really what we're going to be able to do for the spring football game. It's a balancing act for the football coach. Obviously, you want to give your fan base something to see, but you need to keep in mind the health of our football team and having a healthy team going into spring. So it's a balancing act. I also have to see players who haven't had a lot of game speed repetitions to be able to see how they react when fans get in the stands, especially our punt returners and some little things that way, our kickers and punters as well."
(On naming one or two quarterbacks for the spring)
"I want to see it continue to be openly competitive. I think that's extremely healthy. I think in the world of football today you can't have just one quarterback. You need to have three quarterbacks and two quarterbacks minimal. I think that's healthy going into the spring."
(On open competition for freshmen at the quarterback spot)
"Absolutely. It's open competition. That's why we really haven't paid a lot of attention to the depth chart. Depth chart is really for the first game where you line up. Everything in our program is based off of competition. We're going to play the best players that we feel fit that will give us the best opportunity to win on Saturdays."
(On Marlin Lane)
"Marlin continues to be out for disciplinary reasons. We hold our players to a very high standard of accountability here at Tennessee. No matter what it is. The way we play, the way we win off the field, the way we go to class, the way we excel in the classroom. It's a high level of accountability in all aspects."
(On accountability of players)
"Every individual is different. I don't believe you treat everyone the same, but you treat everyone fairly. Like I told our players coming in here, they're building their own identities. They're responsible for what they create by the way they perform on the field and off the field. But what we're going to do is we're going to treat every individual fairly.
(On Marlin Lane's return this spring)
"There's a possibility based on what he does."
(On Alden Hill)
"He continues to be steady and continues to improve. I think he has to continue to learn he is a physical style running back and he needs to learn how to play that way. I think that's an ongoing process but I've been really encouraged with what I've seen and he's been a great surprise this spring."
(On Alden Hill being quick enough)
"I think it's knowing his strengths as a football player. He's an interior runner, an inside runner. I think a lot of young backs want to bounce everything into the sidelines and that's what we're trying to teach them - how to run behind his pads, get north and south. He's an individual who should be able to get one or two yards moving forward because of his power."
(On Inky Johnson)
"I love him. He's one of the greatest illustrations of what a Vol For Life is. He loves this place and his message was inspirational and from the heart. It was tremendous and our players needed to hear that. It's a pride and that's who we are and it's what makes us different than any other program in the country. That's why we're Tennessee: because of individuals like Inky Johnson. I learned very early about Inky and I've really tried to reach out to him, especially the last couple of weeks with getting him to come over from Atlanta to spend time with us. You're going to see him around our program a lot."
(On playing pig noises at practice)
"That was Joe Harrington's (idea). That was kind of a surprise. He got me on that one. I didn't know he was doing that. Sudden change."
(On Pig Howard on punt return)
"We're pushing him on everything. Alton has so much skill and ability but it's about a level of consistency and that's what makes good players. Before you can be good, you have to be average and before you can be great, you have to be good. It's nothing more than a work ethic every day and he understands that. We're just stressing a high level of consistency with him."
(On the quarterbacks at practice)
"I thought they did (do better than at last Saturday's scrimmage). I thought they took steps moving forward, but again, it's the overall management of game situations. That's our job as coaches, to put them in those situations and then teach off of it. But I thought they took a step forward today."
(On game situations)
"It's both (teaching and coaching). Obviously you try to manufacture situations like these as coaches, but sometimes they don't materialize. When they do materialize, you have to take full advantage of that and use it as a teaching opportunity. That right there costs teams games. It's a four minute offense, you need one first down to win the football game and you take a knee in a victory situation. How many times do you see a back get a run and he's running down the field and the ball gets stripped from him? When that opportunity presents itself, it's a great teaching moment."
(On team standing of base knowledge)
"We're a work in progress and we still have a long way to go."
(On defensive backs)
"I thought they did a good job at being opportunistic, but it's just a level of consistency. Obviously, the interception by Justin (Coleman) is one of the best plays I've seen in a long time. But it's just making the routine plays. That's what being a great football player is about. It's easy to be average, it's hard to be good and it's harder to be great. It's a snap and clear mentality, but you're always thinking of how you can improve. Justin Coleman is one of those individuals who wants to be good and he wants to be great."
(On Riyahd Jones' knee)
"We anticipate to get him back, but right now, walking off the field, it's nothing too serious. I'll know a little bit more on Sunday, but I'm encouraged with what I've heard."