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#VolReport: Reflecting On Day 1

Aug. 2, 2013

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VFLs at Practice

Here are a few of the most important quotes of the day:

HEAD COACH BUTCH JONES

Looked like freshmen. I think the speed of the game; I think everything was happening very very fast for them. So kind of what we expected. I thought Peterman, I thought Worley showed good poise. I thought they showed a lot of confidence from having the spring but I still need more leadership. I still need more take charge - more assertiveness from them.

It stems up front. We have some players up front that have played some football up here. We're going to rely on their leadership; their experience. But I just think the overall intensity defensively has to pick up.

We're not changing our stripes. It's nothing with the uniform conversation. One of the best things we do in our personal development program here at Tennessee is - a lot of our players have already talked about it - is our big brother program. And that's part of our big brother program. Every newcomer in our football program has stripes on their helmet and they have to earn their stripes in our football program. We they earn their stripes - their big brother dictates it - they'll come up and pull that stripe off their helmet because they've earned that stripe. So again it's part of that personal development and growth which is the big brother program.

Intensity. Bursts and explosion. Body position whether you're still in blitz pick up mode or you know understanding your assignments. Being assignment sound. But I think bursts and acceleration, still pad level, overall knowledge of the game and competitiveness.

" I think what you have is a great sense of urgency and every day we have to have a great sense of urgency but it gets back to being process oriented. You know the phrase that everyone uses - 'how do you eat an elephant? One day at a time.' It's the same thing at training camp. Every day is critical and every day is more important than the next. So tomorrow when we leave this football field again we have to show great strides. Those improvements that we need to move forward will be pointed out tonight in meetings."

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE BAJAKIAN

"What I was happy with was the retention from the spring and the summer. We challenged them to come in and not take a step back mentally. I wanted to, we described this as practice 16 of spring. We wanted to continue forward, continue to make progress and from the mental standpoint, we did. I thought the retention of the information was good, but we didn't execute. Like I said, I think it's shaking the rust off, I think it's getting used to game, speed reps and the timing with defensive guys in your face and across the ball from you, but I was happy with the overall retention of where we came out of the spring."

"They've worked hard all summer. That's evident in their mental preparation and what their bodies look like. Our timing wasn't very good today. Our execution wasn't very good today, so it's hard to get a feel for that."

"I'm happy. Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson, boy they are further along from a mental standpoint than any freshmen I've had before. Physically, they are both very talented, so it should be interesting to see how they progress as training camp goes on, but they stepped in in their reps and in a lot of ways, managed the offense like veterans and I'm happy to see that. That's a testament to both Josh and Riley but also to what Nathan and Justin did with those guys this summer."

WIDE RECEIVERS COACH ZACH AZZANNI

"I mean you can tell who has got some natural ability from the freshmen, you know who's got a chance to play early a little bit. You know, kind of but not all the way. You've got an opportunity to really see who's been cranking up this summer and maybe who hasn't. So you can see those things and what they've retained from the spring time."

"You know what, just the little things we've talked about. From our stance and starts to our style of play I can see it start to show up little by little. Those are the biggest things. As a team just them kind of knowing what to expect now you know. If they get yelled at or get patted on the butt they know why."

"Physically he's what you're looking for. I mean he's a big receiver who can run. You know what the great thing about Marquez is he doesn't say a word. He says yes sir, no sir and goes as hard as he can so I like that. He definitely has a chance to be really good here."

"I definitely saw some progress. The great thing about our guys is they're willing. They want to. There is no resistance. They want to get better, they want to work. We're just still teaching them how, that's just how it is. And now, with a bunch of new freshmen, we're teaching them from ground zero."

TIGHT ENDS/SPECIAL TEAMS COACH MARK ELDER

"Sure I think it might be some of that but it also might be that he needs to get going a little bit. He has to play at full speed. With guys in their first day it could be a little different; our practices can be a little bit different. When he is hollering it at guy it usually means that he thinks that that guy has some ability but it is also that he isn't necessarily doing everything tremendous, that is for sure."

"The fast paced does affect the way we substitute. There are certain times when we will not sub people if we are trying to go at a certain speed and the things along those lines. It is a lot easier when it is a scripted practice and not a call it up kind of practice because you can look through the script and you can decide what you substitution patterns are going to be and when you are going to be able to make those substitutions because of the tempo we are running at it is in there. It is a little more difficult when it is a call it up situation but we didn't have any of those today. So today was an easy day to flip people in and out and get exactly the amount of reps you want on each guy."

"Everybody is going to have their shot and have their opportunity to prove what they can do. I can't speak for every coach but I can talk about my position and one great example of that is Alex Ellis. He is a walk on for us and he took reps with the ones today and he will continue to do that. Not every rep was with the ones but he had some reps that were with the ones. Obviously, not every walk-on and not every scholarship guy will take reps with the ones. Guys that prove that prove they are deserving of it will. I don't think there is a single guy on our staff and not a single guy in this program that cares whether a guy is a walk-on, a scholarship guy, a fifth year senior or a true freshman. The guys that are deserving of those reps are the ones who are going to get them. When you perform at a high level you are going to get more of them. When you perform at a low level you are going to get less of them. In the end, all we care about is putting the best team together out there on that field so we can win ball games."

RUNNING BACKS COACH ROBERT GILLESPIE

"Smart kid, you can tell he is definitely not a kid that is his first time. You can tell that he has been at a major program, very smart, was able to pick up the protections and the different things that we do from a run blocking scheme. Now it's just him getting the rust off, from the adjustment, the tempo, the speed that we play at. It's going to be interesting to see what he does, but hopefully he can add some depth and some maturity to the running back group."

"Great effort, I think these kids have done a great job in the offseason, in the weight room and I think today they were proud to go out there and show how their conditioning is going to allow them to be better football players. So, the intensity was good. We have great kids here at Tennessee. As coaches we want these guys to have success because they're such good kids."

QUARTERBACK JUSTIN WORLEY

"There was a little more sense of urgency from the coaches, demanding a little more out of us. I think last, in the spring, it was more, kind of learn the system, learn how the coaches do things, but now it's gearing up and getting ready to go for the season."

"I think the more comfortable we get with the offense, the faster we can go, and that's at every position. Being able to communicate on the sideline from my part to the offensive line and them making their calls quick, as well as the wide-outs getting lined up and knowing what to run quick, I think it can progress pretty fast."

"They're seeing what I'm seeing. In the one-on-one drills, it was good to see what they can do against our DBs and things like that. They're still feeling things out, especially in the team periods and the seven-on-sevens. The coaches are seeing what we're seeing, so they know when to put them in and what they can handle."

RUNNING BACK RAJION NEAL

"I went up on bench and squat. 435 on bench and 605 on squat."

"It is good. We missed him. It is a guy that we are comfortable with and that we know, we interact with a lot, on and off the field. So it is good to have him back. He is happy to be back. I can honestly say, being away from the guys for too long you start to miss them. You start to realize how much you actually enjoy being around them."

RUNNING BACK ALDEN HILL

"We will find out who the real running backs are when we get pads on, but right now there is no room for error. We cant be making mistakes now because when the are on it is real. thats when we see who the real guys are and the warriors. Right now, we are making now mistakes, taking notice, and staying in the playbook."

"I am confident in what I can do, what is asked of me. I am not content with where my position or as a group. We are still hungry. I play as if I am on the scout team."

"I feel like it is the same. I haven't played yet. So, I might have a name. People might know what I am doing, that I am a hard worker, but I haven't played yet. As long as I stay consistent, doing what I need to do, I think people will recognize that, and right now we have to focus on that and not the depth chart."

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN ANTONIO RICHARDSON

"Last night I think I just got about three hours of sleep. I tried to sleep but I kept waking up, the anxiety levels are high and you just can't wait to get on the field. We were able to get those first day jitters out and come back tomorrow and get better."

"Those kids are really good kids. They are smart, they learning really quickly and when they are learning quickly you can't be in their butt all the time. We have to be nitpicky about how we get on to them because they are catching on really fast."

"I don't think it is just from the spring I think it is from last year, this offensive line has been together for a while and the chemistry is there. We met as an offensive line yesterday, sat down and talked about what our goals are, and we are just going to come out here every day and work at them."

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN ZACH FULTON

"I always have my belly showing during practice. I have had that going since high school. You can call it whatever you want. I am just trying to survive out there and trying to breath."

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN DANIEL MCCULLERS

"The coaching staff is picking up their intensity, but we know it's closer. We only have 20-something days left, so each day we have to get better to get ready for the first game, Austin Peay."

"If I get my weight down, I'm going to be a lot faster and quicker. So they're on me, they want me to be better. I need to listen to their direction and take their coaching and get better."

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN MO COUCH

"Today I would say was an average day, but as far as the freshmen go, it was an excellent day for them. They made mistakes, but were able to move on. It's not the football team Coach Jones wants though. We just have to take it one day at a time and get better."

"Being older guys, it will help this team. We have been through it all and have the experience. Having all of us back will benefit not only the defense but the team also."

CAMP CENTRAL

New Visuals Add Meaning To Practice

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Day one for Volunteer football began Friday as head coach Butch Jones and his new squad took to the field in their first day of fall practice.

In keeping with the Vols' new mantra, the `bricks' were on display and the base level of the Vols' rebuild has begun from ground zero.

"I thought we started off exceptionally well and as practice wore on I thought we lost our mental intensity," said a near voiceless Jones in his post-practice address.

"I still like the mentality of this football team we just have to continue to preach and learn how to play winning football."

Although no pads were worn on the first day, Jones said that there was still plenty to develop and was pleased with what has carried over from the spring and summer.

"I saw some great retention from our older players," said Jones. "I thought our freshmen for the most part did a great job but as we continue to move forward, our installation will continue to move forward as well."

Jones praised the offseason work and conditioning that has been a product of director of strength and conditioning coach, Dave Lawson.

Jones also said that he'd like the speed of the offense to go faster than what he saw today but ultimately was impressed by how much bigger, faster, and stronger his players were.

"Our players are in the best shape they've been," he said.

If Friday was the initial level, the first step in completing the blueprint of the 2013 Tennessee Football season, building on top of it tomorrow will be just as important.

"The big thing we have to come back tomorrow," said Jones. "We have to be a much better football team in terms of our mental effort and our mental intensity that it takes for sixty minutes."

WORLEY READY TO COMPETE

Going into fall camp, Butch Jones has made it clear that each player must compete in order to earn his starting position and Justin Worley is no different.

Worley is one of four competing for the quarterback position this fall and the junior knows that he must make the most out of every opportunity he gets, on and off the field.

"I mean with the two freshmen coming in, we're definitely splitting up the reps a little more to incorporate them, so the reps have been a little bit different, but I mean, everybody is getting them," Worley said.

Quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian agreed with Worley, saying that each quarterback will have equal chances to prove himself.

"We'll keep shuffling until a guy steps up. So, we'll evaluate the video, rate each guy--Justin, Nathan, Josh and Riley, all of them. As they demonstrate a grasp of what we're doing, then they'll get more reps."

Bajakian seemed most pleased with the retention of information that carried over from the spring and looking forward to how each quarterback has improved.

"I'm happy. Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson, boy they are further along from a mental standpoint than any freshmen I've had before. Physically, they are both very talented, so it should be interesting to see how they progress as training camp goes on, but they stepped in in their reps and in a lot of ways, managed the offense like veterans and I'm happy to see that." Bajakian added, "That's a testament to both Josh and Riley but also to what Nathan and Justin did with those guys this summer."

Worley and the Volunteers did not treat today's practice as their first but rather their sixteenth.

"We're just trying to retain our info from the spring and go out there and have a little fun today," Worley said.

While today's practice was similar to the spring, Worley knows that the intensity and the urgency will increase each day.

"We know what to expect and we need to meet those expectations and surpass them as well."

Communication is also a key factor that Worley knows is important for the team's success. One way that Jones is implementing this into the program is by the black stripes appearing on the freshmen's helmets. While the freshmen must earn their orange stripe, it is the upperclassmen's duties to help them.

"I think it's a great idea. That way, seniors and juniors and the upperclassmen, we can evaluate the freshmen and really watch what they do and watch how they progress. I think once they earn their stripes, rip it off and they'll be (more of a) part of the team."

LINE GETTING BACK IN FOOTBALL SHAPE

The Vols have been working out constantly this offseason to make sure that they are in shape for the fast paced tempo that Head Coach Butch Jones has set in place on Rocky Top.

One of the more massive positional groups that struggled a little during the spring, is having an easier going heading into fall camps.

The offensive line as a whole, like everyone else on the first day of camp, is tired. But they are also pleased with their conditioning.

"I can really tell," said junior Antonio Richardson on the shape he is in. "First half of practice I wasn't really tired as far as being winded. My legs might have been a little fatigued. Other than that I wasn't winded at all. That is most definitely paying dividends and we are going to continue to get better."

"I felt a lot better today than I did in the spring, we knew what we were supposed to do," echoed linemate Zach Fulton. "I felt a lot more conditioned, I will tell you that. It was a lot easier running down the field."

As the Vols took their first steps on Haslam Field as a team Friday afternoon, they felt in shape, but knew that after not playing football for over three months, they would need to return to football shape.

"I think our lapses were more physical," said Fulton. "We knew what we were doing and where we needed to be but we didn't execute the way that they wanted. There is a difference in being in shape and being in football shape."

The Vols also know that this isn't day one of practice. They have echoed the sentiments of their coach saying that this is day 16 of the 2013 preseason.

And the intensity needs to be there.

"We felt it in the spring, but now it is even more," said redshirt senior Alex Bullard. "This isn't the first practice, this is like the 16th. We are just picking up where we left off and the sense of urgency has to be on point."

"It is go time now," said Richardson. "That is what you want from the coaches, for them to push you. That is what I want from my coaches - to push me every day. Our first game is in 29 days. Our anxiety is up, but I am just ready to get back out on the field."

FREEDOM UP FRONT

The Vols defensive front is under the microscope in 2013, and two men that will play a MASSIVE role in the group's success will be seniors Daniel McCullers and Maurice Couch.

Because their seniors, the pressure is on. And both players know it.

"It's been a long four years and it's time for me to step up to the plate," said McCullers. "The defense depends on me - that's what [coach] said, so I'm going to give it all I've got.

"I knew it was coming. Since the spring, he's been on me to make me better, so I knew it was coming. I'm going to take it on and give it my all. I'm key in the middle to get penetration and make plays, so that's what I'm going to do for the defense."

Couch, the Vols second-leading tackler in 2012, echoed his teammate's sentiments.

"The seniors - myself included - have to step up," Couch said. "We have to get the younger guys motivated and do anything possible to help this team win. We have to prevent mistakes."

Coach Jones also added why he believes McCullers and the whole defensive front is so valuable.

"Well I think you look at his size, you look at how hard he's played and how hard he's worked to get to this point," said Jones. "Again it starts with stopping the run. It stops up front. That's where it begins. So obviously he's going to be a big part of that. If we could get him to develop and improve, that's going to lend itself to being a better defense."

Both have played in a similar system before, but they've taken an early liking to Coach Steve Stripling's 4-3 defense for one reason in particular. Freedom.

"I like the 4-3 with Coach Stripling because he gives us more freedom," said Couch. "In the position I am playing it gives me more freedom to get to the quarterback.

"Coach Strip won't let the D-Line be massive bodies taking up space. He wants playmakers. That is what I really like. Holding up bodies and letting the guys behind us make plays is not going to benefit us up front."

McCullers went into specifics on his role in the 4-3.

"We get more freedom. We don't take on as many double teams like in the 3-4," McCullers said. "The 4-3 is more penetration and getting up field and getting sacks. That's going to be key. It's going to be a big thing for the D-Line to get penetration to the quarterback, and we have to work on that."

AN OPEN FIELD

Just like every other position on the football field, running backs Rajion Neal and Alden Hill are competing for playing time this fall.

Neal and Hill are coming from two different directions. Neal played in 10 games in the 2012 season, leading the team with 708 rushing yards while Hill redshirted his freshman season.

"I haven't played yet. So, I might have a name. People might know what I am doing, that I am a hard worker, but I haven't played yet. As long as I stay consistent, doing what I need to do, I think people will recognize that, and right now we have to focus on that and not the depth chart," Hill pointed out.

While Neal may have more experience, the senior knows that the same thing is expected out of each player and that they must prove themselves.

"Just knowing where to be at, from protection to run-fits, and reading our defenses. I think going out there prepared you can kind of play with no doubts. Playing open-minded and you are just going. I think that is one of the big things that we are stressing, knowing what we are doing before we go out there."

Running backs coach Robert Gillespie expects to see both players compete to the fullest in fall camp.

"I want to see the guys compete. I want to see them, obviously I want them to be great friends off the field but I want those guys to be great competitors on the field. I want those guys to have a nasty edge to them when they come and have to compete for playing time."

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!

The Vols will open the 2013 campaign against Austin Peay on Aug. 31. To purchase season tickets, go to UTTix.com.

For more information about Tennessee football, visit UTSports.com/football, follow @Vol_Football on Twitter or like the Vols at Facebook.com/VolFootball.


 

 

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