Preseason Presser Players Transcript

July 31, 2013

Junior Quarterback Justin Worley

(On if he had heard about the depth chart and being bracketed with Nathan Peterman)
"No. The whole offseason we've been working, both Nate (Peterman) and I. I guess the quarterback battle is going to continue on into fall camp. Both of us are going to try our hardest to win the spot and earn the trust of the coaches."

(On if he really had not seen the depth chart)
"No. I haven't seen it."

(On if Coach Jones has said when he would like to name a starter)
"I think he just wants to see how fall camp plays out and that's his decision to make. Hopefully one of us (Worley and Peterman) can persuade him to make a decision sometime soon I guess. I don't know."

(On if the quarterback competition was really close during the spring)
"Yeah. I think both Nathan and I played at a high level of football, especially towards the end of spring. We were really pushing each other and bouncing things off each other. I think the competition was really strong."

(On how organizing summer workouts have been different with an open quarterback competition)
"It's kind of been the same thing this summer. Just organizing throwing with the wide receivers and tight ends and throwing some to the running backs there, some of our screens and bubbles here and there. It's been very similar to summers in the past, just with a different workout schedule and things like that. We organized throwing and got all of that going."

(On if he felt he was organizing summer workouts with a chance of being the starter)
"It's been good seeing the turnout from guys too. With our workout schedule it's been easy for guys to show up and be there. We've had better attendance than we've had in the past."

(On why they have had better attendance this year than in the past)
"I think a lot of it is the schedule we've had. We've been very organized this summer. Also, we don't have any starters, I guess, that are announced starters for wide receivers, so everybody is vying for a position. Everybody's looking to get better. I think everybody's hungry right now."

(On if he can tell the cohesiveness of the coaching staff in practices and meetings)
"Yeah, in the spring we had Coach Elder sitting in our meetings at times just because he knows, at Cincinnati he was a defensive coach at one point, so when we were going over defenses he knew a little bit more about the ins and outs of it to help us learn, as well as Coach Jake (Bajakian). So, I think them having a cohesive relationship has really helped and you'll see it as it goes on in to camp. Just last night, Coach Mo (Mahoney) had all the offensive linemen over just to hangout and get to know them better. I think all the coaches are trying to do that with us and try to get on their level because they've already been around each other. They just want us to get on board with what they do."

(On if there is a sense of confidence instilled from seeing the coaches work together)
"Yeah. Coach Z (Azzanni) knows what Coach J (Jancek) is saying. Coach Mo (Mahoney) knows what Coach Jake (Bajakian) is going to say and Coach Jake (Bajakian) knows what Coach (Butch) Jones is going to say. It is good to see that and it instills confidence in us."

(On team goals with this being a transition year)
"Well right now we're just focusing on the process of week one of camp, then week two of camp, and week three. Just working on refining our skills and what we can do better to help us improve our game and improve from results last year. Everybody wants to win, so I think that's a huge goal for us to win games, make it to a bowl game, win a bowl game, the SEC Championship, the whole nine yards."

(On how difficult it has been to make the transition to this offense)
"It hasn't been too drastic from last year. A lot of it is just terminology. A lot of it is procedure as well, learning the up-tempo offense and what Coach Jake (Bajakian) expects out of us. Schematically, it is similar in some ways and different in some ways. A lot of it has just been terminology, learning that."

(On what he thinks is key to handling a group of young receivers)
"I think a lot of it is their confidence level and just trying to build them up and teach them positively, not get down on them and cuss them out, things like that. A lot of it is building them up, building confidence in them, and just letting them know that there's a reason they're here. They didn't just get here by accident. A lot of that is just build confidence, build confidence in their hands, their route running, the whole nine yards."

(On the difference he sees in confidence from first day of spring practice to fall camp)
"I'm very pleased with where they're at. They've come in all summer and worked hard and really tried to refine their route running and worked on adjustments, worked on their hands, distraction drills, things like that. I'm really happy."

(On if there's any of the younger guys who have jumped out in practice)
"It's all been a collective effort. Getting those young guys in and in the fray of a Coach Lawson workout, it's tremendous to see. All of our wideouts have put in tremendous effort this offseason, trying to get better and get stronger and faster. I think for our offensive linemen, the new guys came in and did a good job as well. I'm excited to see what they can do when we get out on the field and put pads on and see what they have to offer us."

(On what Cody Blanc does well right now)
"He's a very good route runner. He finds ways to get open and I think the spring game exemplified that with his touchdown. He's also got good speed out on the edge for us."

(On what the toughest thing is for a young wide receiver while adapting to a new college offense)
"I think just not getting frustrated when things start going bad. Like week two, week three of camp things are going to get tough. Our wide receivers have to run like no other position in this offense. Just trying to stay positive and stay on top of knowing the offense and knowing what I expect out of him and also Coach Z and Coach Jake expect out of him."

(On his early impression of the freshman quarterbacks)
"Both of them are really smart. They've really picked up the offense well. Both have transitioned onto the field throwing the ball well. Getting on time with these receivers - that's a hard thing. Getting on time with new guys that you've never thrown to before. They've transitioned well from high school to the college setting so far. It's been exciting to see and it's been exciting to be exciting to be a part of it."

(On if the team has improved more physically or mentally as a team)
"I think it's been both to be honest with you. Going into the summer, we've set up a Big 3. One of them was mental toughness and one of them was team togetherness. I think we really made strides with our mental toughness. We overcome adversity when Coach Lawson adds another sprint to the workout or things like that. Also, physically, we've gotten a lot stronger. We've set new personal records - squat, bench, vertical jump, everything. So just seeing the transformation from the spring, trying to feel our way around, to the summer working with Coach Lawson and really meeting his expectations and going above and beyond, it's been fun to see. I think we've made huge strides in both of those.

(No. 3 of the Big 3 was...)
"PRS - personal record summer. Just trying to be stronger and more physically fit that we've ever been."

Senior Offensive Lineman James Stone

(On if there is extra pressure on the offensive line this year)
"Yeah, there's more pressure going into it other than the fact that we're the oldest unit on the team and we've got so much experience. So I feel like we have to lead on throughout camp and in to the season on offense and as well as on the whole team."

(On how they have responded to the added pressure over the summer)
"I feel like we just continue to use our work ethic and continue to try to affect other groups, especially other groups on offense. In the offseason we'll get out there and do our drills and just try to affect guys positively and set a good example as well try to guide them."

(On what the offensive line has done to further their run blocking skills)
"We've really just been focusing on it with our offseason. Whenever we get to work as a group, that's what we kind of focus on a little bit more this offseason. That's something we're going to harp on as camp goes on because the fact that we're going to be the balanced type and we've got some good backs that we'd like for them to get in to open field."

(On what he takes out of the coaches working together in the past)
"It makes it easier for me to trust them because you know they all trust each other and they've worked as a unit. So, you only get one answer back. You're not getting mixed signals from the coaches. It helps us trust them and it's always easier if you trust the coaches."

(On if he can sense when a coaching staff is disorganized and not working together)
"You can kind of sense when it's a disconnect between coaches. It's easier to know that they are working cohesively as a unit."

(On the biggest difference in this year's summer workouts and previous years)
"I feel like the attention to detail was a lot more focused this year and I feel like it made us hold each other more accountable as a whole. You weren't just relying on the coaches direction, you were relying on your teammates to make sure everybody's doing the right thing and being in the right places at the right times."

(On running 52, 110s in training)
"It was a good experience. It was a time where you really had to be somebody, be a teammate to rely on when you really had to focus on the task that was at hand and mission accomplished is key in everything."

(On if there is an emphasis on developing the linemen behind him in case they have to step in)
"Yeah, because Coach Mo (Mahoney) always tells us that we're one play away from having anybody from the second team on, so we try to treat them just like they are going to be starters and treat everybody like they're going to be starters because nobody has a guaranteed position on the line. I feel like we've got some really talented guys so we all try to make each other better."

(On if he's been surprised at the publicity and accolades the offensive line has gotten)
"Yes, we are kind of surprised because we've had some success as a group, but the team and the seasons haven't been going as we had hoped. It just kind of gives you something to work for and something you can use for motivation."

(On what area he has improved the most in this summer)
"I feel like I'm most improved in my run-blocking mechanics. That's something we really focused on - our steps and our combos together and just being in sync as a front, not just in passing but in the run game as well."

(On what area the team is most improved)
"I feel like as a team, we really fixed our focus. I feel like we have a lot more attention to detail. I feel like guys are starting to understand that you have to hold each other accountable out on the field and off the field as well. I've seen that. I feel like the team has grown together. We're a closer team."

(On building a winning mentality)
"That's when you have to just focus on the process. Coach Jones and the staff - they lay out the proven process on how you go about becoming a winning football team. You have to take it day by day and get better each minute and focus on the process. You can't really worry about last season. Just focus on the process of what develops winning teams. If you do it every day, you're going to get better every day."

(How much emphasis there is on the running game)
"There's a lot of emphasis on that because we do have a younger group of receivers and we do have three backs that are capable of carrying the ball very well. It's actually exciting as an offensive line when you have three backs that you can trust to carry the rock. It's exciting for you and it puts a fire to motivate you and go out and get better in the run game because you know you have three backs that are capable of running the ball."

Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Back Brian Randolph

(On his health heading into training camp)
"I'd say I am pretty close to 100 percent. I feel like my speed is back and my agility and quickness. I feel like my last thing to come back is my jumping ability. I'm about 95 percent."

(On the final five percent)
"I'd say it is my jumping ability. We did the vertical jump a couple of days ago and I was a couple inches off where I was before my injury. It is not much different, but I feel like it's about five percent."

(On the new defensive scheme)
"I feel like we got the concept and the basic of the defense down in the spring, so we can build off what we learned in the spring. I am excited about it."

(On the defense this season compared to last)
"Our team togetherness is better. I feel like we trust each other more. Talking about leadership roles, we don't have just one. Last year, Herman Lathers was our main leader. A lot more people have stepped up this year and we have a lot more leadership on the field."

(On comparing this defensive system to the previous)
"This year I feel like we have a much better handle on the defense. Last year, we had a lot of changes to make and that often causes confusion. So I feel like this year it's a lot simpler and we can just play faster and be more confident in ourselves."

(On this 4-3 compared to 4-3 of two years ago)
"It is a lot like it. I feel like sometimes the plays are the exact same but I understand it more now that I am older. I feel like it is pretty much the same thing, but I was just a freshman."

(On adjustments made by defensive backs this year)
"I just feel like we have gotten closer. Before every single workout, we remind ourselves of what people think about us and know it was not true. We know we are not the weakness of the defense. Before we get out there and start working, we get together and remind ourselves that people consider us the worst secondary in the SEC, so that has been a motivator for us. So we have gotten much better this offseason."

(On pressure playing free safety in this new system)
"I would say there is a lot of pressure, because the safety has to know what everyone is doing all the time. But I feel like the system gets us in a position to make more plays. It just puts a little more responsibility on our shoulders and I like it."

(On preparing and studying more)
"We have been in the film room a lot more, it has helped our togetherness. After practice we aren't in a rush to go home like we used to. We go spend a couple extra minutes in the film room trying to teach the new kids what to do."

(On group-specific things for the secondary)
"We go bowling every Wednesday and Friday night. We try to hang out a lot more and get to know each other a lot more. We also have little brothers on the team. We take them out to eat and try to get closer to them."

(On how that helps the team)
"When the fourth quarter rolls around or when workouts get tough, if you feel like that is your brother you just don't want to let them down."

(On how that compares to environment last year)
"Sometimes on the team, instead of brothers it was more of a father/son relationship. Sometimes we did not click as much. Being on the same level as the younger kids helps our relationship more."

(On how little brothers were assigned)
"It was assigned to us. It was basically by position and personality type."

(On importance of the corners)
"The corner is a big position for us. We need all the talent we can get because you never know when someone is going to get tired or slow down, so they are very important to us."

(On preference of morning practices versus afternoon)
"I don't really have a preference. I like coming in and getting my workout done and the rest of your day is dealing with class, but I can see the upside to workouts in the afternoon and practice in the afternoon because you can fully wake up and get food in your stomach. There are advantages to both."

Senior Defensive End Corey Miller

(On the new defensive scheme)
"I would say I am pretty excited about the 4-3 defense being brought back. Especially for my position, playing defensive end I feel like it is a little easier for me, but the scheme overall I feel it will be a good deal for all of us. Coach (John) Jancek has come in and done a great job teaching and explaining it to us. We are getting to where we understand it and I think it is going to be great."

(On communication with the new staff)
"I feel a huge difference between this staff and our previous staff. Both staffs are great guys, but this staff actually shows you a more family oriented type of relationship and they express it with the players as well as they do with the fellow coaches. You will see guys who have known families for a long time and been great to one another and they have grown together and it is a really great experience for all of us."

(On the new staff on the field)
"They're definitely on the same page. One might call a play and the other knows exactly what is going on in the back end. From the back to the front to the middle, everybody has the same idea."

(On leadership this offseason)
"We have had a lot of leadership. We have had a lot of guys come up, step up, and take on leadership roles. We didn't have it before, but right now we have a lot of guys who are really serious about what is going on and understanding the seriousness of winning games here and being successful at Tennessee."

(On why more leadership this season)
"I feel like it is maturity as well as understanding from the coaches. These coaches, Coach Jones and Coach (Dave) Lawson our strength coach, they have drilled it into our minds that you have to have leaders. You have to have guys who are going to lead this team, and I feel like that has made a huge statement."

(On feeling at home at defensive end)
"I really do. A 4-3 is great for me because I can play the field and play the boundary. I feel like defensive end is exactly where I need to be. In the 3-4, I really wasn't comfortable. I wasn't small enough to play linebacker and I wasn't big enough to play D-line, so now I feel pretty happy."

(On the family relationship of this staff and team)
"We've had cookouts together, we've gone on rafting trips, we have been together 24/7. For the D-Line, we have a D-Line group chat. We all stay in touch. We have never done that before and I feel like as far as being a family we have become so much closer than before."

(On impression of Justin Worley and his leadership)
"Worley has come a long way, a very long way since last year. He is exhibiting these leadership qualities day after day. He is taking his receivers outside, he is working routes and working formations, he is doing a great job with them. I feel like he is teaching our other quarterbacks as well as our other quarterbacks are teaching him. They feed off of one another."

(On differences between Worley and Nathan Peterman on the field)
"I don't see a difference at all right now. We are going to head into fall camp and see how these guys operate. As far as right now goes, both guys are doing pretty well."

(On what it feels like going into a senior year)
"The main thing to me is, and I told Coach Jones this, when recruits came into the stadium I looked around and saw the videos playing and it made me tear up because there are seven games left. It is the last go-around. We have been through a lot of trials and tribulations as a team, and a good season this year it will really send us off."

(On defensive confidence after the spring)
"The defense is ready to play ball. Going through the spring helped us a lot. We don't like to discuss what happened before, we are focused on this season and trying to get better because our defense wasn't where it needed to be last season or the season before. So this year it is on our shoulders."

(On if the team pays attention to what is said and the difficulty of the schedule)
"I don't personally look at outside expectations. I don't like reading the message boards, I don't like looking at anything like that. As a defense, I tell the defensive line all the time that it starts up front. We tell the offensive line the same thing, it starts with us. So if you want to get the ball rolling, you have to push. On defense you want to stop a running game, we have to push. And collectively, it rolls back into the secondary, quarterbacks, and receivers. Everyone feeds off of us up front."

(On how this team will respond differently than teams before)
"Coach Jones has established a foundation with this team. He always preaches plus two, plus two, 63 effort, 6 seconds for 3 great efforts. He always preaches finishing. The difference with this team compared to last year's team is that we understand that we have to keep driving no matter what. There are going to be bad plays or turnovers, bad things happen during games, but we have to overcome and keep moving forward."

(On lessons learned from the close games from last season)
"Rather than going 5-7 we could have won 10 games last season. It is all about finishing in the fourth quarter. There were games we should have finished and we know we should have finished and that leaves a pain in your heart with a little bit of regret. At the same time we have a long season ahead of us. We have to keep driving and finish each game. We can't have any regrets."

(On confidence coming out of the close games of last season)
"It is all about what you could do differently during the game. After you lose a close game like that, I don't believe in moral victories. There are no moral victories in my eyes. If you lose a game, you lose a game. There were things that happened throughout that game that you have to change, whether it was a wrong step you took or you messed up the play or messed up the formation. There are things you have to fix and that comes through watching film and studying the playbooks. Things like that can stop you from losing games in the future."

Junior Linebacker A.J. Johnson

(On being the center of defense this year)
"I wouldn't say that I am the center of the defense. It's been a good summer, and we have been working hard. It has been one of the best summers since I have been playing football. With the new strength coach and coaching staff, they have been pushing us very hard."

(On what is different)
"The environment of the new strength coaches. They came in, and let us know that we aren't playing around, and we will have to do everything right like touching the lines and finishing each rep. If someone doesn't finish a rep we call them out, and start the set over until everyone does the right thing."

(On the difference with Brian Randolph could have made last season)
"He would have made a difference, and maybe we could have won a couple more games because he's a great player and always does the right thing."

(On participating in bowling and rafting during the summer)
"It has been a good experience. We go bowling on Sunday or Wednesday. The rafting experience was really fun. When we got out on the lake, we had a tackling drill by trying to knock people off their rafts. I got to hit "Big Dan" (McCullers). I will probably never get to hit him again."

(On embracing being the main voice of the defense)
"I embrace it a lot. It is a road that I had to come on and take. It hasn't been very hard to take because I have older guys beside me. They have been stepping up and talking as well. I know I am the MIKE linebacker and I have to make the calls. You always have other people beside you and help you so it isn't too hard. You are simply out there just doing your job and having fun with the guys."

(On not being able to speak with Herman Lathers being the leader last year)
"I wouldn't say that. He probably would have wanted me to speak more last year, and I wasn't as vocal as I should have been. I looked up to him, and he taught me stuff on and off the field. It is just something that I embrace and I am used to now."

(On Dontavis Sapp being a linebacker)
"He has made me step my game up! In practices, he is going to work just as hard as me, and one of the things we do is try to beat each other to the ball each play. It doesn't matter if it is a 60-yard pass, we are running full speed trying to beat each other there. It's getting us in shape and making us better players overall. I am glad he is beside me playing, and I know we are going to be a good combination."

(On staying focused with all the preseason attention)
"I don't really get into all that. It's a blessing to be known nationwide, and get the accolades. It isn't anything I would take to my head. I am going to come in each day to work and try to be the best and push my teammates to be the best."

(On what Coach Jones has brought to produce better results)
"The simple stuff like competing and the passion. Coach Jones came in here with a lot of passion. That is what you need out there playing. You have to have passion out on the field. If you aren't playing for anything then it is pointless. I think he came here and brought a lot of passion to the team and brought the best out of all of us."

(On passion of coaches last year)
"The coaches had passion last year, but it is a new year, and everyone is coming in with more heart and a little more tougher this year."

(On reaction to successful recruiting so far)
"It's like what we first said, Coach Jones came in with a lot of passion. We watched little clips of him speaking to his players and how excited he was. I feel like he is going to be a good fit for us, and everything does is for the University of Tennessee, us, and nationwide to build us and help us out. He wants to get the fans more involved."

(On Brent Brewer moving to linebacker)
"I think he is doing very good. He has been helping us out and learning the position. He is going to be a big part to the linebacking crew."

(On Curt Maggitt coming off injury)
"He worked hard in rehab, and he works hard each day to get back to 100 percent. We will see when the count comes how he will do. He was strong through the injury, but sometimes he wouldn't be able to work out with us. For the most part though, he's been leading and being vocal, sometimes more vocal than me. I look up to him as he tries to lead us even though he can't be out there with us, and he is still working hard to be the best."

(On confidence in defense this year)
"I feel like we are very comfortable, and we are going around each day working hard in practice. I know everyone is ready for camp. We are just ready for everyone to come together and put on the pads to work hard to be the best."

(On hitting the ground running once camp starts)
"I feel like we have learned most of the stuff that we need to know to hit the ground running. We have the little stuff left that we will be able to do."

(On defensive communication)
"It is going good. Our defense is simpler this year. Again, we have to work hard and have a check here and there. We are just lining up and playing. We know the call, and everyone knows what they have to do to make plays."

Senior Linebacker Dontavis Sapp

(On what difference Brian Randolph could have made last year)
"It is always great to have an injured player come back. He was a solid player on the defense the year before, and having him back will be a big help on the back end."

(On being farther ahead going into fall camp than last year)
"I definitely agree. The defense is a lot simpler, and the concept is a lot easier to grasp. We have kept the "vocabulary" the same on all the defenses. I think the speed we are going is right on."

(On confidence gained after spring practice)
"Not only myself, but the whole team has a lot of momentum from this spring and summer going into fall camp. We are going to try and keep rolling through the camp and into the season."

(On being comfortable in linebacker spot)
"I have been there since my sophomore year. I just want to play football. I try my hardest at everything I do, and it just worked out for me."

(On waiting your turn to start and pressure placed on yourself)
"It was kind of tough waiting on my turn. I know the playbook, and I feel like I could have played ever since I got here, and everybody should. There have been times that I thought didn't want to play, but I wake up each morning with a guy next to me, and I work hard for each, and every one, of my teammates. In this spring game, all of the chips fell for me in the right spots. It isn't really pressure on me. At the end of the day, you just go out and play football."

(On confidence in defense this year)
"I feel like last year we "statistically" had a bad defense. We had all the players to do things right, but we had a lot of mental errors and communication problems out on the field. With a new staff coming in, we have trimmed that down, and started communicating a lot better, the concepts are a lot easier to grasp for all the players."

(On communication of defense)
"It is more of everybody knowing the defense and knowing what to do. If everyone knows the call, then it is easier for us to communicate rather than everyone knowing different calls. It makes it easier for everyone to know what is going on."





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